We were pleased today to welcome back two members of the group who had had scheduling conflicts but worked them out. Both of these women were in the group in its first session and provide great perspective on the work this ensemble is doing, not to mention wonderful individual contributions. It’s good to have them back.
We tried splitting up into two groups with mixed success. The group in the back of the auditorium made good progress on a very funny scene, but that meant that they were often so loud that those of us in the front of the room couldn’t hear each other! We didn’t want to try to decide which scene was “more important” (the answer truly is neither), so we muddled through it.
Kyle worked with that group in the back, while I worked with the others. We worked on the “seduction” scene between Katharina and Petruchio, clarifying the meanings of certain lines and working to make the scene a sparring or chess match – since we are limited in what we can do physically, we need to be creative, but this actually proved to be less of a challenge than we thought it would be. The woman playing Kate is very thinking-centered, and that’s the way she’s playing her character – which we all think is completely accurate to the text. We’ve been discussing for months that the reason she goes with Petruchio at all is because, in this scene, he proves himself to be her intellectual equal. To that end, we just need to work the scene to be sure that all of the barbs land each way. It works.
We continued on with the scene and discovered a funny bit in which Gremio and Tranio shove each other around a bit as they vie for Baptista’s permission to marry Bianca. The ideas flew among the ensemble, and the groundwork of the scene has been established.
We took time today to run lines and do detailed scene work. We were very proud of one ensemble member who, despite nagging self-doubt about being able to read/understand Shakespeare and memorize lines, has her lines nearly memorized, and they are nearly word perfect. We were very vocal about our excitement – this is a big accomplishment for her, and one we’ve been encouraging her to be open to since we began in September.
We returned to Act II Scene I, specifically the end of the scene featuring Baptista, Gremio, and Tranio. We got into more detailed work on the scene. Although our Gremio was very tired, she kept plugging away, not wanting our time together to be wasted.
We ran into some challenges with the word “argosy.” For one thing, the ensemble realized that no matter how our actors play that word, our audience may not get its meaning. For another, our Gremio is consistently mispronouncing it. Rather than give up on this part of the scene, though, we arrived at two solutions, both of which add to the scene enormously: First, we decided to embrace the mispronunciation, as Tranio can follow it up by pointedly pronouncing it correctly. Second, our Gremio is going to pull a cartoonish picture of a boat out of her pocket to show Tranio and Baptista, and then the audience; Tranio will then take out a bigger picture of the same boat and show that off.
I love these solutions because they were arrived at in the spirit of teamwork and effective communication, both of which are skills we all hope our ensemble will improve during their time in the group. Additionally, rather than finding a solution that might have made our Gremio feel badly about stumbling over such a foreign word, we found a way to take that “mistake” and build on it rather than condemn it. That’s a really important part of what we do.