Season Eight: Week 37

Wondering how ensemble members’ work in SIP translates to life on the outside?

Check out the video below—they’ll tell you themselves!

Tuesday / May 21 / 2019
Written by Emma

Tonight was special, for tonight was the first rehearsal with COSTUMES! As the facilitators pushed a cart stacked with costume bins down the path towards the programs building, I couldn’t help but hear the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey playing in the background. The curious looks from inmates and officers alike added to the overall excitement. After all, it’s not every day you see someone carrying a bag full of foam swords…

In the auditorium, facilitators divided costumes up by actor and sorted them into piles on the stage. Eyes lit up as ensemble members walked in and saw the colorful garments they would soon be wearing. As folks busied themselves with trying on their costumes, one of our ensemble members who had to step away from the group a few weeks ago walked into the auditorium. Everyone was happy to see her, and she was clearly happy to see us as well. One of our vets commended her for coming back and being supportive, despite no longer having an active part in this performance. “That’s what Shakespeare is all about!” she commented.

Once everyone was in costume and character, we hit the ground running. This is the time in the season when note-taking gets a little dicey (and blogs get a little shorter), but there were some moments that warrant mentioning.

Sir Toby, who is always vivacious, absolutely came alive in her multi-colored costume. Gestures were bigger, dialog was louder, and nothing was held back. At times, it almost felt as though the costume was a character itself! This is going to be a FUN show…

Our Sir Andrew, decked head-to-toe in shiny clothing, made an explosive impression as she danced to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” (oh, yes, we added sound today, too!). I have seen the scene run many times before and still laughed at her graceful-but-not moves. Looks like we have another crowd pleaser in the works!

During one of the longer scenes, some off-book actors got lost in lines. There were a few moments of confusion, and I could feel the show inching towards stopping. However, they didn’t give up, and kept at it until they got to a place they were familiar with. This type of thing—the ability to power through forgotten lines and missed entrances—will make a huge difference come show time. It was great to see it happening now, as opposed to later in the season (or during performances). As Bob Ross says, “there are no mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

We came to a halt exactly half-way through the play with a few minutes to spare for storing costumes—meaning we made excellent time and progress! The first day with costumes tends to be overwhelming, and we weren’t sure how much we would actually be able to get through when all was said and done. As we circled up to raise the ring, I think we were all happy that “costume day” went off without hitch. It’s go time!

Friday / May 24/ 2019
Written by Matt

Well, it wasn’t always pretty, but we stumbled our way through two-thirds of the play today in costumes. In the end, most people seemed frustrated by the disarray of the session and the general lack of focus and direction--from everybody. We have a really strong ensemble this year, but it has sometimes felt like, rather than pulling together, each person is working in their own direction. And that was on full display tonight… despite a lot of people working really hard to do their part, it never felt like we were all on the same page at the same time. There’s a lot riding on next week--not in terms of making the show cleaner (that’s never been the priority), but in terms of bringing this talented, collaborative ensemble together into the tight-knit team that it needs to be. That sort of team-building is so much more important to us than the quality of the show, and the next couple of weeks will be the time to do it!

But I don’t want to give the impression that it was a “bad” session! Despite the frustrations of the ensemble as a whole, there were a number of outstanding individual moments. Our Sirs Andrew and Toby were on fire tonight! Their scenes were hilarious and showed off the hard work and talent of those actors. Our Orsino/Maria was a rock, gamely holding the entire show together by rushing through her costume changes, whispering blocking to people onstage who were out of place, and keeping one very confused facilitator (me) on track and in line. Our Antonio, who had been intimidated by getting off-book, was almost totally out of her script tonight, which is a personal victory of epic proportions. Our Malvolio was having some trouble managing her nerves and anxieties for the first half of the run, but she pulled it together in Act II scene v, which was the funniest it’s ever been. There were individual triumphs all over the place, and that’s what we’ll remember from this session in the long run.

One more week of rehearsals! Let’s do this!