Tonight I distributed our cast list as people came into the room. Fortunately, everyone was cast in a role that was on her list, so we did not have any drama or tension.
One woman who auditioned for Richard and Buckingham breathed a sigh of relief as she saw that she had been cast as the latter. She sat next to me and said how glad she was not to have been cast as Richard. I asked her why she had volunteered for the role if she didn’t really want it. She said that she had raised her hand because there was only one other person who was interested in the role, and she felt it would mean more to her if she earned the role than if it was handed to her. But then she thought, “I have a 50% chance that I could get this. Oh, crap! I had ten lines last year. But I guess [the woman who played Othello] didn’t think she could do it last year, and she did. So I guess I could, too. But I really just wanted [the woman cast as Richard] to feel like it was something she’d worked for.” What an extraordinary gesture!
Another woman who had been quite vocal about wanting to play Margaret wound up cast as Elizabeth, her second choice. I was a bit concerned that this would be upsetting to her, but she told me that, after the audition, she realized that she actually preferred Elizabeth, and it would be a better role for her.
We gathered for check-in, and afterward we discussed our game plan for the next phase of the program. The first order of business is to do a first round of cuts to the play – we need to perform in 90 minutes or less, so we always end up cutting quite a bit. The woman playing Richard, who played Othello last year, said, “This year I’m gonna work super duper hard to be pro-cuts. ‘Cause I have way too many lines.” Last year she was very resistant to cuts because she loved the language so much, and it’s good to know that she’s gained perspective and will be more flexible this time around. Another woman, who is our resident cutting queen, offered some advice to the group: “Remember that you’re cutting for your audience. If we have trouble understanding it, they probably will, too.” We decided that everyone who is comfortable making cuts will bring them on Friday so that I can gather them and have a bound rehearsal script for us very soon.
We also discussed how we want to explain the history of the play to our audience – it’s very hard to understand the relationships and much of the plot without prior knowledge. Some of us favor a spoken prologue, while others think a visual guide would be better. We’ll keep discussing it – we always figure out how to overcome these challenges, and I know the ensemble will come up with a great solution.
The next topic of conversation was costumes. The group is mulling over how close to period we should go. Usually we do a hybrid modern/period mix of costumes, but there is potential this year to stick more to period pieces, with the prison’s approval. This is something we’ll continue to talk about over the next month or so until we need to make our decision.
One of the woman gave a little pep talk to the group, reminding everyone that, now that we’re in rehearsal, it’s important for everyone to behave well in order to remain in the group and have consistent attendance. We wrapped up playing a few games and left feeling good about where we are in our process.