Session Four: Week 17

Today began with a “presentation” of the Katharina/Bianca/Baptista scene at the top of Act II Scene I. Two of the three actors were off book, and they had done some brainstorming about how the scene could work on its feet. Their instincts toward physical comedy and relationships made for a REALLY funny scene, and it sparked excitement in the rest of the ensemble, who were very vocal about throwing out suggestions for how to go even farther with it. We were so enthusiastic, in fact, that we decided to veer away from our “rehearsal schedule” (which is tentative at best, anyway) in order to spend more time on it. It was great as a facilitator to be able to take a back seat to the rest of the ensemble, as one of our goals is for exactly that to happen as often as possible. We then continued our work on the scene as we moved forward. The next entrance presents a challenge, and we explored various ways of doing it in order to find what works. Ideas include everyone entering at once from the same place, staggering entrances from that one place, or having each “team” come in from a different place in the theatre. We’re not sure yet what works best and will have to keep exploring.

Another challenge we discussed is that of needing to be on stage in a scene without any lines. I suggested that each person focus on her character’s objective and find “something to do” from there – whether it’s eavesdropping, staying very close, keeping a distance, giving the space the once-over, having a side conversation – and it seemed to lessen their discomfort a bit. We’ll have to keep going with that as well.

After this, we worked on Act IV Scene III. There are several ways in which to interpret this scene, and we explored them – do Kate and Grumio enter together, or is he already on stage? Is she imperious or pitiful? We found that our favorite entrance was when Grumio was already on stage, cleaning with his back turned, and Kate entered silently, blowing her cover by trying to get the last crumbs out of a bag of chips. This provided added motivation for Grumio’s first line (No, no!) and gave Kate an immediate, physical activity. We also found that we believed the scene more and Grumio had an easier time changing his mind about giving Kate food when she invoked empathy rather than servitude.

We spent some time, then, brainstorming about costumes, props, and set. We’ve landed on setting our play in Elizabethan times but having lots of modern flourishes, like the bag of chips. Several of the women have specific costume ideas for their characters, and others are still thinking. We’ll continue to discuss and hope to nail everything down within the next month or so.