Written by Frannie
We had another night of making cuts to our script tonight, and although it’s tedious, we had some fun along the way, joking with each other about the process.
We got to a quintessential Iago monologue, and Kyle remarked, “I love this speech.” Our Iago, who is a ruthless cutter of Shakespeare, replied, “Well then, you’re gonna hate what I did to it.” Her cuts were good, though, and well thought out.
We kept to our resolution of not cutting anything belonging to people who weren’t present, although several members of the ensemble told us sincerely that they wanted us to go ahead and cut things. “Whatever’s best for the play,” said one.
One of our ensemble members found it intriguing that Othello talks about women’s appetites during his unraveling, and Emilia talks about men “eating” women later in the play. She was concerned about cutting those lines of Othello’s, but after talking about her discovery being more literary than performance-oriented, she felt better about it.
When people became hesitant about making large cuts, I encouraged them to be brave. I reminded them that we own this script; it doesn’t own us. “I can be brave,” said one woman. “I’m not brave, said another.
“I’ll be brave for you,” said a third member of the ensemble.
And that’s a really important aspect of this process.
Written by Lauren
Today we started out continuing to discuss possible cuts to the script. Many of the women admitted that they had not been doing cuts on their own when not in class, but those who had seemed fairly engaged in the process at first. During this portion of the session, we discussed how important it is to be familiar with any material that doesn't make the cut since that is still information that can shape how a person plays their character. During cuts, the focus seemed to start shifting and people started to get more and more distracted, so we stopped doing cuts and moved on. Everyone present agreed that, in the interest of time, Frannie should complete the first round of cuts, keeping each person’s preferences in mind.
Frannie took a couple of women aside to do more cuts while the rest of us started to play around with staging strategies. A couple of people at a time would go on stage while those of us in the audience would suggest blocking. We observed how stage positioning can completely change how a scene feels from an audience member's perspective. Discovering different planes of action shifts an audience member's focus and it can completely change the action. It was observed by some inmates that changing levels, such as having some folks kneel or sit on the floor while one character is standing and walking shows the standing actor's dominance over the rest of the actors. Some comparisons were teacher vs. students as well as prison guard vs. prisoners. One woman observed that the person standing looks like they're attentive and "ready to go."
We ended the session working on a specific scene with Iago, Emilia, and Desdemona. Desdemona is openly distraught. We ran through the scene a couple of times. At one point, it was suggested that the woman playing Iago should try playing the scene as if she feels sorry for what she has done to Desdemona. It changed how the scene felt for the actor, and she said she would explore this interpretation more in the future. It was observed that it's interesting how little changes can completely change how a scene is played out.