We revisited Act IV scene ii and the ongoing debate about Lady Macduff’s son’s age. We are still divided on this – some really think he’s under the age of 11, and some feel firmly that he’s older. We discussed textual evidence for both interpretations, and then one woman said that she thought he might be a young teen with the mentality of a younger child. I asked her what evidence there was in the text for that – I hadn’t seen any – and she pointed out specific passages that illustrated her point. So it’s there.
One woman likened this interpretation to the child in Mad Max, also humorously offering, “Back then, the life span was, like, thirty… So at ten, you’re, like, half dead.”
Things started to get a bit heated, and I reminded everyone that there are many aspects of this play on which we’re never all going to agree, and this is one. It’s going to be up to the woman who ends up playing the character.
One woman was extremely frustrated with the whole conversation. She came down on the side of him being a young child, and she really didn’t see the merits of the other interpretations. She was sitting next to me, and I leaned over and said, “I can see that you’re upset. This is a little frustrating for me, too, because I agree with you. But there really are openings for other interpretations. And you’ve gotta ask yourself, how much does this matter? Is this a hill worth dying on?” She cracked a little smile, visibly relaxed a bit, and said, “No, it’s not. You’re right.”
In the meantime, I discussed some things aside with a couple of ensemble members. I talked through where we were on casting with a longtime member, who had some great input. Another woman asked me what I thought about a woman who dropped earlier this season due to a conflict rejoining – it turns out her conflict isn’t happening. We are going to put it to the group to see what they think.
At that point, programming for the evening was canceled per the facility, so we ended about an hour early. It was an abrupt end to the meeting, but we’re not in a time crunch right now, so it won’t hurt the work we’re doing.
It turned out that tonight needed to be a time for sharing and support, as well as some planning, so we never got around to scene work. As previously stated in this blog, though, it’s very typical for us to ditch productivity in favor of accommodating heightened emotions this time of year, so it was still a very positive night.
Our check-in was extremely long. Usually it takes about 15 minutes, and tonight it took 45. The things that were shared were very personal, and I can’t record them here, but I do want you to know that the ensemble was as wonderful as usual about lifting each other up, giving advice where appropriate, being encouraging, and giving whatever space was needed.
Finally, we caved, grabbed chairs, and sat in a circle. We talked about some potential projects for the group, and we talked about casting. It was decided that we would cast the play on Tuesday with whomever is there. The people who were present said they would try to get the word out to everyone else not let them know.
Many people were also concerned about the number of others who have recently dropped. That has happened for a variety of reasons. I realized that most people in the room have only been in the group this year or since last year; the latter was an outlier in that no one left the group until very late in the season – and then it wasn’t very many people.
I asked them to try not to get discouraged – that it’s actually typical for us to lose a number of people over the holidays. I suggested that we go ahead and cast most of the roles and then consider adding a new group of people in January or February. My guess is that that’s what we’ll do. It’s impossible to anticipate who might drop and when, so, even though we have enough people to cast the play right now, there’s no guarantee that everyone will still be around for the performance. Particularly because a few ensemble members want only small roles, it’ll probably be our best bet to add 5-10 more people.