After today’s warm up, the facilitators asked the ensemble if they would be interested in trying some different types of exercises – we always learn and have fun with our usual theatre games and improv, but our thought was that, since the group dynamic this year is more “buckle down and do the work” than in sessions past, they might enjoy more challenging activities. They opted to try this approach and see how they felt about it. Today’s exercise was one in which two people sit face to face, and both tell stories (and listen) simultaneously. It’s a great exercise for developing listening, clear communication, eye contact, and multi-tasking. While no one found it to be an easy exercise, and many found it to be very difficult, the feedback overall was that the group enjoyed it and would like to do more things of this sort. They feel that as they explore activities like this, they will improve, overcoming whatever social “training” is making it challenging for them.
We then moved on to script work. After some discussion about the play in general – how it should be staged, how it should look, etc. – it seems that the group is moving in the direction of staging it in the style of a farce or broad comedy. Since some ensemble members are nervous about how to work with the play’s themes of abuse and misogyny, it seems that our approach will be to use our staging to comment on those things. This could well change, but the ideas are flowing in that direction. Several of the women feel strongly about breaking the fourth wall and using the entire theatre as playing space (even more so than we have in the past). The idea was also floated of having a “Vanna White” type character who doesn’t speak, but moves in and out of scene changes with signs to tell the audience what’s going on or where we are. I’m very excited to see how these first ideas evolve as we move through our process.
We began work, then, on Act I Scene i. The concept of “pre-beat” – or, what characters are doing just before they enter a scene – is one we need to continue to explore, as many characters enter in the midst of conversation or activity, and it influences how the scenes will be played. We are already making good progress.