Tonight was another “divide and conquer” night. Several pairs of people split off to work on lines, I worked with our Desdemona on her song, and the majority of the group worked together to refine blocking in Act One, including plugging in our new Othello, who powered through admirably despite being extremely tired. Her commitment is inspiring.
The group is working together extremely well to prepare for our first performance at the end of May. There is the usual “under pressure” feeling we get each year, but, rather than letting this stress us, we are focused on just getting the work done as best we can.
I didn’t take many notes this evening, as I was working separate from most of the group for much of the time.
After we had gotten through all of Act One, we had a little time to spare. Rather than beginning Act Two, for which we were missing some of the main players, we decided to play a game. This provided a much-needed opportunity to blow off steam and laugh together. We ended on a positive note.
There was some concern at the beginning of tonight’s session about absences, late arrivals, and early departures. This is normal for us at this time, as some people get into programs or work schedules that start to preclude their attendance at our group, others begin to feel under some pressure due to the upcoming performances, and others’ morale begins to suffer because of these circumstances.
I reminded the group that if we lose anyone at this point (and we always have, although of course this year could be different), I am ready and willing to jump into any role (as I always have thus far).
Some members of the group voiced their nervousness and frustration with those whose attendance is holding us back. A long time ensemble member reassured them and encouraged them not to stress about other people, as she used to. “Don’t worry about the people who aren’t here – focus on who’s in the room,” she said. “If the ensemble is strong, we’ll be all right.”
Because many of the primary actors in Act Two were missing, we decided to work on the long scene in Act Three in which Iago manipulates Othello to the point of wanting to kill Desdemona and Cassio. We worked on the scene’s dynamics, making sure we understood the words, and stage pictures/movement. Our Othello and Iago did great work, taking notes from each other and the ensemble, committing fully to their roles and taking great risks. “This is the most connected I’ve felt in awhile,” said our Iago. And we all agreed that we felt connected as well.