After our warm up today, the group decided to move right into Act I Scene ii and make sure we really got it. We discussed the need for a “rehearsal schedule” moving forward, as our deadline to cast the play in December is getting closer, and we have a lot of work to do to make sure we understand the story and characters. We broke down the scene bit by bit together, and then we put it on its feet.
Almost immediately, one of the women, who is newer to the group, leaned over to me. “Why is she (the woman playing Petruchio) pointing at the door? Grumio can’t be confused if she’s being so obvious about it.” I stopped the action so that this woman could give that very constructive note and encouraged everyone to do the same if they had feedback. More people entered the scene, and this same woman whispered to me again, “It don’t look right.” I asked her what would make it look better, and she responded, “It just don’t look like a conversation. They shouldn’t stand like that.”
“Do you see in your head how they should be standing?” I asked. She nodded. I called another hold and encouraged her to go ahead and direct the scene, which she did. This was a really exciting moment, as this woman spends a good deal of time talking herself down (I can’t read, I shouldn’t be on stage, etc.), but here we seem to have stumbled upon a strength – and that is being able to identify how actors’ physicality affects our ability to tell this story. She’s got director’s instincts (not to mention the fact that she CAN read and is great on stage!). The group encouraged her to continue giving direction in a constructive manner, as not everyone has this ability. I’m hopeful that she will gain confidence in more areas than just this, as she’s now feeling empowered to give feedback from this perspective and knows that it will be appreciated and honored.
Another participant showed a great affinity for Grumio, as she consistently and hilariously “threw shade” throughout the scene after her “ear wringing” from Petruchio. “I LIKE this guy,” she laughed. We were all thrilled to see her connect in that way.
We seem to have a good grip on Act I Scene ii now and will move forward now, hopefully efficiently enough to meet the casting deadline we set for ourselves.
We began work today on Act II Scene I. We read it through without stopping, then went back to break down and analyze it. The women have some great insight into the characters already.
The first thing the group wanted to discuss was Petruchio’s and Kate’s instant chemistry. They interpret Kate as being very intelligent, and feeling that finally she’s met someone who can keep up with her. “Some people who are incredibly intelligent have no social skills,” said one woman. In terms of their behavior, one woman said, “Maybe they’re both shrews that need taming.” They see Petruchio as being potentially just as rough as Kate in terms of his behavior. One woman introduced the idea that Kate’s shrewish behavior is a defense mechanism to protect herself because she’s so intelligent. Likewise, several of the women believe that, on one hand, Kate behaves the way she does to protect Bianca from marrying the wrong man, and, on the other hand, that she may be resentful of her little sister getting more romantic interest than her. One woman talked about her discomfort knowing she was being pitied by relatives at her younger sister’s wedding.
At this point, many of the women had left because of mandatory scheduling conflicts, and those of us who were still there decided to explore the beginning of the scene with Kate, Bianca, and Baptista, leaving the meat of the scene to explore with a larger number of people. This dynamic is proving to be one to which many of us can relate. Some of the women feel that the “abuse” from Kate to Bianca is playful, while others do not. We all feel that Baptista is a “big powerful presence” that changes that dynamic when he enters. But, as one woman said, “He loves the crap out of Kate.”
We began a brief exploration of the scene between Petruchio and Kate, which we determined needs a lot of movement. We’re all looking forward to exploring it more!