We split up into groups again this evening, with people branching off in groups of two to work on lines, while a few of us continued scene work on stage. We began by reading the “give me the handkerchief” scene in chairs at a table, but soon our Othello was so moved that she had to get up out of her chair and hover over our Desdemona. “I couldn’t help it,” she laughed afterward.
We worked together on blocking the give and take of the scene, finding that our Desdemona has some fight in her, and trying to find the balance between that spunkiness and fear of this new side of her husband. When should she shy away, and when should she be bolder? “Follow her like it’s a dance,” advised a longtime ensemble member.
We continued our work, and as the scene began to make sense to our Othello in the context of the play’s arc, she began literally jumping up and down with enthusiasm. “It’s clicking – I get it,” she said excitedly. And, indeed, her work was so strong and powerful that it caused many of our group members who had been working on lines to fall silent, watch, and then applaud.
Tonight we took pause to try to figure out what to do now that our Lodovico has left the group. The conversation meandered into our Othello mentioning that it seems like the previous Othello has worked out the time conflict she had, and it might be a good idea to give her the role back. The Othello who had taken on the role has a lot going on outside of the group – she is in other groups and classes, and she writes on her own. She has been concerned that she will not be able to give the part her all due to these other commitments, but has also been very firm that she will do it if it’s what the group needs. She now was wondering, though, whether it might not be better to switch back.
The woman who previously played the role stated that she’d successfully changed her shift at work and would do anything to take the role on again. She has missed playing the part and believes she can do it justice with the time we have left.
A longtime ensemble member stated her disbelief that we are talking about switching up the main character three weeks out from our first performance. Unfortunately, this led to a verbal altercation between her and our Othello, who thought her commitment to the group was being called into question. Some hurtful things were said; it was not a constructive exchange. But another longtime ensemble member stepped in, acknowledging that we’re all under a lot of pressure, but it seems like the best solution is for the first Othello to step back into the role.
Things calmed a bit then. One of the women who’d had the argument left early, I presume to cool off. Kyle and I both spoke with the other, who agreed that she hadn’t handled things well and apologized to the group for it.
All that said, we got some really solid work done. We finally staged the “drunk” scene, and our Cassio’s work was truly beautiful. She has dealt with the loss of her reputation and feels the scene poignantly, and she’s doing very well drawing on her own experience without re-traumatizing herself.
We also got started on Act III Scene I, but ran out of time to finish it. It’s where we’ll pick up on Tuesday.
We are thrilled to have been given permission to rehearse together on our final two Thursdays before the first performance. I think we’re all breathing a sigh of relief to have five extra hours of rehearsal. Even though there was a confrontation tonight, and I hope it will have a better resolution on Tuesday, the group quickly moved on from it and did not waste time continuing their invigorating work on the play. It’s always an honor to be a part of this process.