Today was an exciting session, as we were able to work with props and costumes for the first time. Things seem to work for the most part, and we had a lot of fun trying items on, exchanging things that didn’t fit, and problem solving around items that had been forgotten (and we have a solution for that going forward!).
Several of the women shared new cuts that they had made, and then we began working through the play from the beginning. We made it nearly halfway through with very few lengthy pauses. Some of us are working without scripts, while some are still shaky and holding onto their “blankies,” as one woman put it. That said, success in this program is very individual, and no one feels pressure from anyone but herself to be completely off book when we perform.
Some parts of our play are working extremely well, while others are further from what we envision. All in all, though, we left feeling extremely good about our work, energized by the new materials, and pumped up to power through the end phase of our process.
We dedicated most of today’s session to working with our Gremio, who was not satisfied with her work on her “wedding story.” This was a lot of fun, as she has gone from someone with severe stage fright to a performer who seems to have no fear about pushing herself out of her comfort zone, playing her character truthfully while going for as many laughs as possible. Working together, we brought her monologue out into the house, with Tranio and Lucentio following her closely. Our Lucentio made the enormous contribution of giving her physical checkpoints to help her remember her lines, i.e., “You’re here when he gives a cuff, then you move here and the priest falls down.” We had a blast working through it, and our Gremio now feels much more confident.
We spent the remainder of our time working lines in the final scene. Another productive day for everyone present, with great team work all around.
We finished our first dress run of the play tonight. There were a few more hiccups than we would have liked, but we made it through and are confident that we can get through the whole thing at our next meeting.
Unfortunately, due to our interrupted run, there was a misunderstanding between two of the women about a costume piece that they need to exchange. As I mediated the conflict, it became clear that it was not a personal one, but the type of conflict many seasoned actors might recognize as familiar from past productions – unfortunately our time with props and costumes is limited, it’s a stressful part of the process, and so the miscommunication boiled over more than it probably had to. We figured out what needed to be figured out, though, both women agreed to move past it and find a way to continue to work together, and I think we’ll be okay.
One of the positive outcomes when we have such a conflict is the opportunity to reflect on better ways in which it could have been handled – not sweeping it under the rug or ignoring the issue, but, in this case at least, allowing the other person to finish what she was saying before responding. Part of the reason things got heated is that they weren’t truly listening to one another. Being able to talk that out afterward and offer other options for the future (because none of us can avoid conflict 100% of the time) is what we hope our takeaway can be, and it was this time.