Written by Matthew
Tonight we had low turnout, but the women who showed up were ready to go!
We even had a couple of new members, who had come into the group after spending a long time on the waiting list. They jumped right into our exercises and seemed to enjoy time on the stage. They were a natural fit for the program.
We began with an energetic warm-up—including a round of Dr. Know-It-All in which our newest members readily participated—then decided that the best thing to do was rehearse a scene we hadn’t looked at before.
The scene we chose was Act I, scene iv, origin of Mercutio’s baffling “Queen Mab” speech. The chemistry of Romeo, Benvolio, and Mercutio was fun and energizing for all. In the scene, they are making their way to the Capulets’ party. Benvolio and Mercutio played up their excitement, which allowed Romeo to drag his feet comically.
A woman commented while we worked that the first two acts of the play really are a comedy, which helped inform our choices in this early scene. There is no hint yet of the devastating fate that awaits our characters. In the spirit of comedy, Romeo played up his heartsick moaning, while Mercutio experimented with several ways of delivering his big speech.
After we tried several ideas—most of which simply ended with Mercutio pacing frantically on stage while the other two watched—we decided that Mercutio should deliver the speech to the audience. Not only to the audience, in fact, but in the audience.
This day, we solidified the relationship between Mercutio, Benvolio, and Romeo. The women had some time to enjoy the friendship before it gets tarnished by death and despair.
Written by Sarah
We started our day with a good physical, vocal, and focus warm-up. We added a new vocal/improv warm up into our mix that integrates voice, body, and improv. The ensemble responded really well to it and helped out when I forgot the lines! As always, showing empathy and patience and team work...
We settled into a discussion of costumes where almost everyone had a strong sense of what they should wear to support their work in their role. Our Tybalt has requested a belt as she is a fighter and will need a place to hold her sword. Our Lady Montague has requested a crown to allow her to enter into the regal mindset. Romeo wants preppy khakis or dress pants to help her feel Romeo's privilege. The women are still thinking about whether the back drop wants to be representational and show Verona or whether they would like it to be a collage of words that convey the themes of their Romeo and Juliet.
After our costume and set discussion we worked on the Crypt death scene with Paris, Romeo, Juliet and Friar Lawrence. At first Romeo and Juliet were working very hard to make themselves FEEL the scene. They kept saying, "I need to be more emotional." It was clear that it was not clicking for them. We stopped and we asked them not to "act" it. We asked them to forget about what they thought they should feel. We asked them to focus instead on what they WANT and WHERE they are in the scene. Juliet and Romeo know their characters and the scenes well and, of course, knew what they wanted. They could imagine how being in the crypt with dead loved ones affected them as teenagers.
We promised them that Shakespeare's language will do all the "emotion" work for you as long as you know what you want and where you are. We asked them to just say the words and try to get what they want. We were hoping they would trust that the scene would play that way. They dove in with great courage and TRUST and very simply played the scene while trying to get what they wanted. And all the emotion was there. They played the scene so beautifully and simply and it was heartbreaking and true.
One of the most valuable gifts that acting bestows is trust. Trusting your cast mates to be there for you if you mess up. Trusting your audience will respect you and go on a journey with you. And most importantly, trusting yourself - trusting that you are enough and what is true in you is enough and you do not have to make yourself feel something to act, the feeling will happen if you listen to and work with and open your heart to another person.
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