Tonight the ensemble checked in and played some games as I gathered with some new folks for an orientation in a nearby classroom. I chatted with them about SIP’s goals, how it works, and I answered all of their questions. Then we headed into the auditorium to observe the work already in progress and chat about it.
That had been the entire plan for the evening, but when I checked in with two longtime ensemble members, they said that they thought the newcomers might be bored. I asked if we should include them in a game or demo some Shakespeare, but one of the women said, “No. No! Three questions!” The other woman nodded vigorously, so I invited the first to ask everyone to circle up.
What brings you to Shakespeare?
What do you hope to get out of the experience?
What is the gift that you bring?
As usual, many people have joined us to try something that's out of their comfort zones, to open up, to make friends, and to learn something new. Most of our newbies have been recruited by past and current ensemble members.
One longtime ensemble member joked, "Shakespeare is like a marriage you cannot get out of… It’s such a commitment. The good days outweigh the bad days… Your mood is gonna get better just by being here.” Another said, “I’m just good, you know? Turns out I’m naturally good at Shakespeare.”
A woman who joined us in the fall shared that there are many reasons she joined and stays in our ensemble. "I needed to try something new – not get out [of prison] and do the same things over and over again... I know nothing but the drug life. This has actually helped save my life. If I hadn’t done this, my state of mind would have been the same as it was: getting out and getting high.”
The ensemble member with whom we joke so often about being older than the rest of us joked, when asked what she hoped to get out of the experience, "I don’t know. Age." We all laughed, and someone asked her about the gift that she brings. "Personality," she said. "And age!"
The woman who emerged as such an integral ensemble member last season - who came in so defeated and is now so confident - said, “I am… good at… Frannie’s staring at me and willing me to say it… directing. I try not to take charge and just give people good advice.” I immediately replied, "That’s WHY you’re a good director!"
A number of people needed to leave, so we wrapped up for the night. Next up: reading through the play with our new ensemble members and finishing up with casting!