Written by Kyle
During check-in, two members had a confrontation dramatic enough that we had to focus on trying to mediate, rather than doing the work we had planned. Both parties were pretty irate and unwilling to concede anything; in the end, they left the auditorium with the conflict unresolved. It hurt our morale, truth be told, and it was well into the evening before we really felt like we were back in the groove of working on Shakespeare. We do our best to mediate conflict and minimize its impact on the group, but sometimes we have to recognize our own limitations as facilitators. I hope some kind of understanding can be reached, but it was clearly not going to happen Tuesday night so we had to let it go.
We managed to have a good night, though. I am really proud of the group for bouncing back and being able to keep the goal in mind by moving forward. A few ensemble members started working Act I, scene iii: one of the witches’ scenes. They worked specifically on their physicality, and another ensemble member had some really great insight for them, which is always ideal. When the direction comes from them, it is all the more empowering, both to the individual and to the group. Despite many of the women having different levels of comfort with conflict, work still happened, and we were all able to leave smiling.
Friday was a much more productive day, in as much as we were able to work on more of the play. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood; perhaps, with the conflict reaching finality on Tuesday, the group was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Perhaps it had been weighing on us more than met the eye, and sometimes you can only feel the true tension in its absence. On the other hand, after a long winter it was the first truly spring-like day, and I’m sure a little sunshine played a part as well! Whatever the reason, the good spirits were very welcome after Tuesday’s session.
The first item on the agenda was to pick the play for next year. Ensemble members were encouraged to make a “One-Minute Pitch” for the play for which they would wanted the others to vote. Like everything in SIP, a seemingly straightforward assignment was met with abundant creativity, and it ended with my face hurting from smiling. There were rebuttals, pleas, tag-teams, and a dance-off. In the end, Twelfth Night was chosen in a landslide victory. Honorable mentions went to Julius Caesar, and The Winter’s Tale. The overarching sentiment was that the group wanted something lighter after working on Macbeth (and, for some of them, Richard III… and Othello…). A particularly funny moment in the debate was one of the women brought up some of the logistical problems with Twelfth Night. She said there’s a lot to keep track of, and a lot of “cross dressing.” One woman responded, “We’re all cross dressing in every play, anyway, so what’s the difference?!” It was a really great way to start the night: light, fun, and looking to the future.
After we chose the play, we had to reassign some of the roles that had belonged to women who’d left the group. I was assigned the role of Lennox, and was told in no uncertain terms that I would not be given an extension for learning my lines. After that, we actually worked many Lennox’s scenes, so I was on stage a lot, and my notes got a little spotty. The ideas were flowing all night, particularly when trying to get everyone on the same page with just each characters’ objective. We stayed mainly in Act V, which can get a little dicey when it comes to logistics. Entrances, pacing, the crux of each scene; all still need a fair amount of ironing out. The cheerfulness continued throughout the night, with the ensemble member goading each other on, challenging each other to “pump it up” and shouting “good!” when the actors hit their mark. All in all, it was a great way to end a difficult week.