Listen to a silenced voice

Feb 9, 2011   //   by Kate Powers   //   Director's Notebook, Incarcerated performers

I have tasked my assistant director on Superior Donuts at Sing Sing with keeping a rehearsal journal; if we were working at a theatre outside the prison’s walls, he might be writing blog posts for the company’s website regarding the progress of rehearsals.  He has started to find a nifty balance between a documentary voice and exploring his own reflections about the work; he wrote the following about a rehearsal last Wednesday night.  (New RTA volunteer actress Kate Kenney joined us for the first time that night. )  I want you to hear his voice.

In his own words

While Mercy College classes for criminology and English were canceled tonight due to the harsh weathers of repeated snow storms and icy roads, RTA rehearsal for Superior Donuts went as scheduled, due solely to the dedication and fortitude of an RTA thoroughbred – the lovely Mrs Kate Powers – and newbie Kate Kenney.

Tonight was day one for ‘KK’ in this alien environment.  But she blended in well, like a reunited family member in the company of big brothers.  She read off lines with smiles, poise and a sailor’s mouth when necessary, displaying a vibrant, jubilant personality.  Breathing life into her character, while simultaneously leaving the play’s lead man, B, in his own words, intimidated.

Text analysis, understanding and character development were the order of the day as each actor read lines aloud while seated in a circle of chairs.

Discussions of underlying themes within the play took place, that took my mind out of the circle, causing me to reflect on my own life experiences silently. In the play, Arthur says,

“… but there’s nothing wrong with comfort, you know? You’re lying in a bed in the city of Chicago and you have your arms wrapped around a person who’s made the decision to move through the world with you.  That may be comfort and not much more, but it may be love, too …”

I know first-hand what Arthur speaks of – especially while being incarcerated.  And having once been married while incarcerated.  It’s about basic human needs that both souls yearn for, being met under trying circumstances.  It could be comfort or it could be love, but for that moment, and maybe even for a lifetime, it’s what both parties need to survive a world that can be brutally cold and lonely.

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