Written by Frannie
Before we began tonight, one of our ensemble members came to me for a private conversation. She feels like she’s been wasting the ensemble’s time because she hasn’t been participating very much. She has been focused on introspection and learning about herself recently, having been reunited with a family member with whom she hasn’t had much contact in years. She loves Shakespeare and doesn’t really want to leave the group, but she is concerned that she’s getting in the way. I reassured her that she isn’t in the way at all – that there have been participants in the past who have literally sat in the back of the auditorium doing crossword puzzles, and that that was a problem, but that her being more quiet and reflective has not been brought to my attention by anyone as troublesome. I promised to tell her if it gets to be a problem and reminded her that everyone is in the group for different reasons, to accomplish different things. It’s okay if she hangs back for a while.
I also had a one-on-one conversation with another ensemble member who is concerned that much of her part was cut from the script. She was wondering if she could add anything back in. I reminded her that all cuts have been made in the interest of streamlining the play – we need to perform it in 90 minutes or less – and that if she’s going to add anything back in, it needs to be brief, and she needs to be able to make a case for why we need it. I also reassured her that these cuts were not personal – that they were made in the best interests of the team. I encouraged her to find some other small roles to fill, and also to volunteer to fill in when people are absent. This will make it easier, if someone leaves the group, for her to jump in and replace that person in a larger role. I encouraged her to be the first to volunteer in that instance. She seemed to be relieved by our conversation.
We worked on a scene between Richard and Buckingham, making cuts as we went. We got a little distracted talking about other Shakespeare plays, but this was fruitful in that we do need to explore our options for next season. There was also some confusion about the play’s timeline, which led to a brief discussion about making fiction out of the history and how the two don’t always match up.
Written by Kyle
I began Friday night having a longer conversation with one of our newer members who has spent the majority of her child’s life incarcerated. It was incredibly frank for such a spur of the moment conversation. She said that motherhood has been a double edged sword; on one hand going to prison changed her life and she has been clean ever since, but on the other hand she worries what toll her incarceration has in her child’s life. It is a constant ray of sunshine that also seems to cast shadow of pain at the same time. This is my third season, and, especially once we begin rehearsals, it can be tempting to forget that this isn’t an ordinary theatre troupe; we get working on the production, we laugh, have inside jokes, and sometimes it can seem so commonplace to my experience working in theatre. Tonight I was really reminded just what is happening not too far below the surface of any given rehearsal.
After check in and warmups, we started to work on Act 1 Scene 4, in which Edwards learns of his brother Clarence’s death. It’s a difficult scene because there are lots of people on stage who have compelling backstories and conflict, but that are secondary to the central conflict of Edward learning of the death. It made for difficult staging, which tends to be the ensemble’s weakest link anyway. There was a lot of discussion as to just how sick Edward needs to be; if she is too sick to stand, how can we put the needed movement in the scene to make it move along? If not, what other kinds of sickness can King Edward display that makes her condition clear? It was getting disproportionately heated for such a seemingly small matter, and some people felt like their suggestions were not being heeded; we had to stress that it is ultimately up to the actor playing King Edward to make the final decision, and we moved on to the next scene. The actor playing Richard was having somewhat of a difficult night - there was definitely something off, and she seemed a little short tempered. I pulled her aside and asked if something was wrong. I think she may have apologized twenty times. She was having issues with a family member and didn’t realize she was being as short as she was. It was really positive, and I’m glad I talked to her about it. We only had a little bit of time to work on Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess's scene, in which they learn of King Edward's death, but I had a pet idea for staging that the ensemble was kind enough to humor me and try. It’s always a delicate balance trying to be an ensemble member myself and a facilitator. I want to have ideas, but I want to facilitate their ideas as well; unfortunately tonight, the former won out. We didn’t finish the scene, but I was glad we worked right up to 8:30.