Written by Molly
After getting through the gate a little late, I walked in to find the women playing Juliet, Romeo, Capulet, Lady Capulet and the Nurse rehearsing Act III, scene V -- from memory! This complicated scene begins with pillow talk between Romeo and Juliet (famously including the “it was the lark” and “it was the nightingale” banter) and ends with Juliet being admonished and threatened by her parents and abandoned by the Nurse. It was clear that each of them had spent a lot of time over the past week committing their lines to memory. Their dedication and commitment were impressive and they probably only need to spend a little bit more time on that scene before they are entirely off-book.
In memorizing this scene, the women hoped to show the other participants in the group what the play might look like when it is more polished. Unfortunately, attendance was a little low on this Tuesday, so hopefully they will be able to show their fellow actors their accomplishment in the future and it will serve as a motivating factor. The women realized that being off book allowed for greater potential for movement and dramatic choices. They seemed eager and somewhat antsy to have this scene completely memorized, without calling for lines, so they could really intensify blocking choices and amp up their acting.
These five actors are making interesting dramatic choices and it is a joy to see how they are developing each of their characters. For instance, there are many ways that the actor playing Lady Capulet could play this scene – as an obedient wife blindly supporting her husband, as a cold woman whose only wish for her daughter is to find a good match. The woman playing Lady Capulet is both thirsty for revenge against Romeo and somewhat of a battered wife, fearful of what her volatile husband might do. It is fascinating to see how these women are identifying with their characters and how they are transforming them into multidimensional, complex people as they take the stage.
For next time, they decided on their own to try to memorize the party scene from Act I, scene V. It is really impressive how motivated they seem to be, which portends well for the actual performances. The play is really coming along!
Although attendance was again light today, those of us who were present were very productive!
We began by noting that the role of Apothecary was still vacant, and one of the newer members of the group, who is already committed to Lady Montague and Page, decided she would give it a try, since we’ve edited the scene quite a bit, and it isn’t a large number of lines. We used the door to the right of the stage as the Apothecary’s front door, and we worked with each character’s objectives and tactics. Perhaps the Apothecary is a woman with starving children to feed (we know from the text that this character is very poor). The actress playing this part experimented with her reaction to the amount of money Romeo offers, inserting the phrase, “Oh my god…” Sarah encouraged her to work with that phrase for now, but eventually to put all of that emotion into Shakespeare’s words instead.
We moved on to Act IV Scene II, which is brief and deceptively simple. We found that it is not, in fact, simple at all, as we continued to work with objectives and tactics. Juliet needs Capulet to believe her – this is her primary objective. But what about Capulet? We asked the woman playing this part if he is surprised by Juliet’s coming around. She decided that he is not – he is used to getting his way, and he’s proud of her for seeing the light.
We then went through and cut a whole bunch of lines that are not working for the women and are not necessary to the plot. The more comfortable and confident they become, the more ownership they take, and that includes being confident enough to know what the play needs and what can probably go.
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