Session Four: Week 32


Today we were excited to welcome a camera crew to our group. They are filming a project that will be posted online, and you can be sure that I will share it here when it’s ready! Our group, though nervous, really brought it for this meeting – we got a lot accomplished and felt very good about our work.

To begin with, I have to take it back to last Tuesday, and a situation that I did not record in that entry. Our Baptista has been wanting to work on the scene between her character, Bianca, and Katharina for a few weeks, and we’ve kept putting it off for various reasons. Last Tuesday, we were all set to work it when our Bianca raised a concern – with the previous woman who played that role, the blocking was developed to include her being dragged on the floor by her ankles. This woman wanted to work around that part of the scene, as she’d just had her hair done. The other women in the scene (and a few who are not in it) were impatient with this, and the conversation quickly devolved to a place that was not constructive – I would characterize it as bickering. No one wanted that, but the vibe in the room was such that it was better to leave it for the time being and hope to resolve it later.

This Tuesday, our Baptista began the session by stating that she had thought about that situation, and that she realized that she and our Kate had been unfair to our Bianca. “That’s how we did the scene with [the previous actress],” she said, “But we never asked you how you felt about it. Maybe you want to do it a different way.” She apologized for being inconsiderate and jumping on her and asked if they could work the scene, possibly in a new way. This self-started conflict resolution on her part is huge – not only is it a skill we hope to develop together as an ensemble, but it’s something she’s personally been working on since she first joined the group two and a half years ago.

We did exactly that – we reworked the scene in a way that makes our Bianca more comfortable and actually makes the scene funnier and more active. And then we just kept going. It’s a long scene, and we found that we were able to just barrel through it – and it mostly works! And then we kept going after that into the next scene, which we refined and got to a place where it’s working well, too.

The cherry on top was a quite reticent group member stepping in as the servant and completely stealing the scene with just one line. We all dissolved into laughter and applause when that happened. I hope that she can internalize how effective she was and use that experience to give her more confidence going forward – we’ve all known all along how great she is with this material, and we’ve been hoping for a moment like this.


Written by Vanessa

It was a special session today, Shakespeare's birthday. Class started with only one person who isn't officially a member of the cast but attends the sessions when she can, though work duties call her away early. I get excited by the idea of someone showing up even if it's only for a few moments to check in - it shows how sacred this program is to this group. Every session I attend I feel the sense of honor and integrity the group brings with them into our rehearsals. It is really remarkable and it continues to humble and inspire me. I am a relatively new facilitator and this is my first blog post. I sometimes feel myself just in awe and not saying much in our sessions. I don't need to! For once I am speechless while I watch this group uncover new ideas and make strong clear choices that make me have a-ha! moments all over the place. It never fails when I ask them, "What just happened in this scene?"... all of them will have their own short and sweet analysis. Hearing their perspective is my favorite part of the day. Using their own words to describe what's going on in each scene shows they are doing their homework and striving toward translating it on the stage for audiences to enjoy. The process of putting up a show is a beautiful thing and they get it. Seeing the ladies progress in getting off book is making it more real that soon they will perform and showcase all the hard work they've put in and I'm ecstatic for them.

I've been told Thursday meetings are lighter because of the daytime schedule and how it corresponds with other activities, and today was one of those lighter days. However, it didn't stop us from diving in and working.   I heard about the success of Tuesday's session - they had blocked and worked up to around page 30! I requested three of the women show me the tail end of Act 2 Scene 1 (rumor had it that some hilarious moments had been born). There was a bit of resistance because they felt they had already worked that scene so much - but of course I begged and they obliged me. Although they weren't quite off book - they knew what they were saying and were comfortable enough to make strong, clear choices that had me laughing from start to finish. The three of them had a great sense of ensemble - one facilitator even said it was reminiscent of the Marx Brothers. Just a few tweaks had to be made for the physical comedy to work smoothly. Once some ideas were tossed around by all team members - they listened and tried it and beautiful magic occurred. A "bit" was born! And now they have a solid scene. Even though they weren't quite excited to work something they had gone over a few times, they knew their hard work paid off.   Once they solidified body placement, some good old slapstick comedy shined through and they learned (and I was also reminded) that repetition equals success and it was beautiful to watch. I can't wait for opening night when they hear the audience roar with laughter.

Curiosity is golden when it comes to Shakespeare and this group is never lacking of that. Someone asked, "Tell me something no one knows about Shakespeare" and a few facilitators gave some facts off the top of their heads - and this is when we had a group tribute of: SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHDAY – someone led us into song and we all joined in. It was a great moment of thanking the man who brought us all together.

I'm honored that this team let me in so late into their efforts. I learned today that this group has been working on this project since October and I find their dedication to be the most inspiring thing in my life right now. I feel like they have welcomed me with open hearts and minds, which is exactly what good artists do, and that's who they are. I was pretty excited to get my official badge before walking into the session today, to have tangible proof of my being a part of this team. But the truth is, I didn't need a badge for it to be official. From day one, they took me in and we all have been striving toward goals together ever since. I have so much to give to my other projects thanks to the inspiring injections I get from these ladies every week.