After warms ups and check in, we returned to our monologue and scene exploration.
The first group read the scene in which Clarence begs for his life and is then killed. The woman reading Clarence remarked that she had really started to feel it toward the end. One of the women reading the second murderer said, “I can relate to this guy. He’s a total douchebag. He wanted the money, but he didn’t want to do the work.” Another woman asked, “Did he maybe have a conscience?” The first woman thought for a moment and then said, “I don’t think so.”
A new participant read a short Margaret piece. We asked her why she chose it. “It’s like Margaret was seeing her revenge,” she replied. “The kingdom is crashing down and she’s like, ‘Yes.’” She said she had chosen Margaret because she’s “kind of awful” and “it’s different.” She also admitted that she’d been very nervous, and a returning participant suggested that next time she bring others on stage to talk to.
Another woman read Richard’s monologue to Anne in the wooing scene. “We know that Richard’s not a nice man,” she said. “This is one of his most vulnerable moments.” We talked about whether he is lying in this scene or if any of it is truthful. There is some disagreement there that will likely be cleared up when we read through the play together. But this woman maintained that it actually doesn’t matter whether or not he was lying – the objective, to get Anne to marry him, is the same either way.
Last year’s Othello read a Richmond monologue. “I always really like when people lay out battle plans. They’re always strong characters in the moment,” she said.
Three returning participants then read the scene in which Richard is visited by ghosts. The two ghosts went back and forth between partially closed curtains, and it was very effective. Then the woman reading Richard jumped up and performed the ensuing monologue. Her delivery was clear and intelligent. She was the one who had chosen that scene. “It’s one of my favorite scenes,” she said. “He’s finally getting what he deserves. He caused so much misery, and now misery comes to visit him.”
One of those participants then read Anne’s monologue over King Henry’s body. “I’ve never been so upset that I’ve wanted revenge. I like how she goes through so many emotions,” she reflected.
One of the women who read a Richmond monologue rousing the troops for battle last weektried the same piece again, with more gusto. She said that it felt better that time. She gravitates toward the language in the piece: “He’d be like HUH and HUH and WOMEN!” We all laughed.
Then a returning member read part of the Anne/Richard wooing scene with Sarah, one of the facilitators. “It’s disgusting,” she said. “It was different with Richard in it (the scene). We’ve all been in situations where you’re angry, they’re nice, and it makes you more and more mad.”
We decided to spend one more day exploring in this way before hunkering down to read through the play together. This has been a really valuable way for people to get their toes wet and begin to take ownership of our project.
Tonight we welcomed two new people into the group. We then warmed up and went right back into our monologue and scene work.
Two new members read a scene together in which Clarence describes his dream. One of them said, “I felt like I was gonna puke. I was nervous, shaking… but it felt really good. When he went down to the sea is when I really started feeling it.” She also shared that she has suffered frequently from nightmares, and that’s what drew her to this scene. The other woman in the scene shared that she felt like a good comforter. She is clearly nervous to be up in front of people, but she did a wonderful job.
A returning member read Richard’s “Was ever woman in this humor wooed?” soliloquy. She read it with a great deal of humor, causing many of us to laugh. She also mimed eating an apple. We asked her about that. “I feel like – ‘cause he’s talking shit, you know? An apple is a perfect prop.” She continued, “He’s, like, so cocky… a jerk… He thinks he’s the baddest ass ever… So it’s kinda like me, and I like that.”
Two other returning members read part of the Richard/Anne wooing scene. The one who read Richard remarked, “Richard is an a-hole.” The woman who had just read a Richard monologue argued, “No, he’s not. You don’t know his struggle.” The first woman pressed on, “I felt that same arrogance. He left her no choice – if you want to continue to be royal, you’re gonna come with me.”
“I don’t know,” mused the woman who had read Anne. “I felt drug into it. I feel like she’s not as mad as you would think… She’s mad and she’s upset… She’s a little dramatic. I think she’s getting off on it… Enjoying being nasty to him.”
Three new members read a scene between Margaret, Elizabeth, and the Duchess. The woman reading Margaret was particularly powerful, instinctively working with the meter, playing with emphasis, and varying the volume and quality of her voice. We were wowed. “I don’t know what it is about this character, but I really identify with her,” she said. “There’s a lot of pain there. Sometimes when you hurt so much and someone else is going through something, they finally understand you.”
Our new brand new members each read a scene with a returning member. One said that although she had been nervous, it was fun, and she liked it. The other remarked, “It was a little bit overwhelming, but I liked it. It was something new – I needed that edge, that spark.”
Two returning members read part of the scene between Richard and Elizabeth. The one who read Richard said, “He’s so creepy. In this scene, he’s comparable to me when I was in my addiction. He really worked to make it make sense.”
The woman who’d been working so hard on the opening soliloquy decided to try the piece without her script. Another woman stayed on book for her, and she made it through the whole thing. “It was daunting without the script,” she said, “but it was okay!”
As we wrapped up, a woman who has been in the group for almost five years remarked, “This is a good group, full of participation. Normally people need to get comfortable, but y’all got some boxing gloves on!”