Due to an unexpected trip to CUH for a few days, this record is being recalled nearly a week after the workshop so apologies to the participants if there are discrepancies in my recollections.
Rehearsals: Day 4
8th April, 2019
Sent as an attachment with the email of 14/04/2019 to Amadeus Troupe.
Planning for rehearsal 4
In the preparation for tonight, my mind returned to the question: What do I need to achieve with this group of actors at this stage of the rehearsals?
A list of eight items –– The ‘Thoughts’ –– became apparent, some more urgent than others (highlighted in orange).
MUSIC –– DJ NEUTRALISE
MARK OUT A SET OF SORTS
COMMUNICATION … WITH ACTORS … FROM ACTORS
FEEDBACK LIST INTERESTS SINGING
RESEARCH –– Mozart, Salieri, Constanza, Freemasons, other characters
For this rehearsal, I needed to deal with practical matters –– what was the expectation of the actors relating to the central roles and who would play them? (But reiterating that the current work was essential for all the actors involved, central role or not). I decided to provide a sheet where they would indicate their acting / performing preference and time availability.
I wondered about this process. It isn’t usual for actors to indicate their preference in such a public way. But, on the other hand, everybody indicates their time availability and this particular project is fluid and creative, thus far.
Also, having indicated in the email to the performers that I could be engaging with the music that has influenced the discussions between Julia and myself from the beginning: Christine and the Queens and the music of Mozart, that was core to the planning and needed to be introduced immediately. I was hoping (and hearing in my head) voices singing ‘Tilted’ and the soprano aria from The Marriage of Figaro, during the walking exercises –– bursting forth.
The set would be crucial also this evening –– a sense of corridors, playing areas, limited by imaginary walls, which recur in my thoughts since the early images we pinned to the Amadeus Pinterest board. This needed to feature in tonight’s rehearsal too.
Julia had mentioned a corridor running along the side of the hall. In my head, an area coming from the stage and swinging across the hall wouldn’t leave.
Have a look at this link to the Amadeus Pinterest board:
This evening there were fifteen actors, most of whom were familiar with the warm-up and walking exercises. It was easier to begin, everyone automatically finding an ease, a presence in the walk, looseness; though I still side-coach on moving from the centre, eye-line, and the feeling of ease. The freeze, walking quickly, backwards happened easily and, more quickly then ever before, we moved to mirroring at a freeze –– finding a partner nearby and moving together. Then walking again and a few moments later they were finding a new partner to lock eyes with and mirror, neither one leading or following.
On this occasion, I asked the actors to withdraw their radiation from this partner and to find someone else, radiating to them, locking eyes and mirroring again. Then moving on in the walk. The process is repeated, inviting awareness to withdrawing the radiation from the partner, before moving to the next person and working with them.
In the feedback afterwards, one of the actors mentioned that it took her three goes to become conscious of that radiating and the ability to withdraw and redirect it.
The next instruction was to walk and when the freeze came, to burst into song. I was anticipating the song from Christine and the Queens. One actor braved the request, singing out from the crowd, “First I was afraid, I was petrified …”
“It’s all your fault …” It was all my fault … (see The Amadeus Project: Day 2 .) Was I clear in my instructions? Was I sure what I was looking for?
But, I welcomed the singer’s bravery.
Next, I asked the actors to walk but, from time to time, to add a gesture in the walking and I demonstrated a couple of body movements –– first one using their hands and then with the knee raised, until their weight shifted forward –– from the ‘Tilted’ video. We continued to walk, trying these gestures.
Something wasn’t working, somehow these instructions didn’t feed into the work, were too abrupt.
One last matter before I moved on … flocking again. Now in week rehearsal 4, how would the flocking be? Definitely more intuitive, more focused.
Communicating with the actors
My core belief that if, as Director, I enable an environment where, as a Troupe, we share acting experience, working hard but allowing freedom to explore, to practice, playfulness, then the script and the play looks after itself; there will be a critical change in the understanding amongst the actors –– a reaching of a certain state of mind –– and their inner knowledge of story and being in a play will come to the fore.
This is my aim.
And, in this rehearsal, communicated in words directly to the actors with the following intentions stated also:
Emails to be sent to the Troupe –– following each rehearsal, to remind of the work done and give some inspiration for the work ahead.
Feedback –– a sheet for observations, if anyone wishes to do so.
Blog –– my record, for them to check and be sure that they were happy with the content.
Role sheet –– to indicate the actors’ role preferences and their availability.
A ‘Feeling of Beauty‘
I read the excerpt from the Body Voice Imagination book by David Zinder, subtitled ‘ImageWork Training and the Chekhov Technique’…reminding the actors of their beauty in being actors, here and now, expressing themselves.
Though, as I write this I am wondering if I’ve told them that they are beautiful?
For rehearsal number 5!!
Groups and acting
I set out tables on the stage, creating a line in front of which the actors would work.Then on the floor just in front of the stage I lined uptown rows of chairs to create the ‘corridor’ the was in my mind.
The actors divided into two groups and took a script from which they learned about eight lines of the Venticelli text. The second instruction to them was to find a gesture that everyone in the group would use. They practiced this after a while, moving in the space, using the ‘corridor’.
Then, one group at a time took a position on the stage. The Venticelli 2 went first, finding a group image, using their gesture as they arrived into place. The Venticelli 1 group remained on the ground, grouped closely together (though not instructed to create an image), focusing upwards on the others –– they became the foil, the mirror perhaps, of the intensity of the Venticelli 2, An image was created without asking for it.
The two groups used the learned text, playing with it against the other group; relating to them; building an intensity, decreasing in intensity; using their gesture as part of the explanation of the emotions.
Venticelli 1 moved towards the stage on my instruction, now both groups created the image together.
Venticelli 2 group came down from the stage, flocking, moving through the ‘set’ space together, using their gesture, regarding the Venticell 1 group.
Venticelli 1 group took their position on the stage, again the process was repeated. This time I asked the Venticelli 2 group, now on the ground to create an image on the bench and table to the side. Though focusing on the group on stage, they had become part of the scene. the intensity now building to a height as they used the text to wonder, clarify, expand; with gestures being utilised …
Consider further: Could the groups of Venticelli respond to each other with precise movements / characteristics from a distance?? … separate from each other?? Maybe use these movements together AND apart.
Directed to be loud, aggressive, soft, whispering, almost silent … there came a moment where I was bringing this part of the practice to an end but I had to stop … it was out of my hands, the actors were in their place of control and creativity.
I like to have a ‘moment of magic’ in each rehearsal … a promise of some quality or intensity of acting or presence.
This previous moment was utterly magical … collective creativity in action?
I had a physical response … I had been close to the stage to bring the actors’ work to a close … next thing I was moving back to sit on the side-bench, looking around to Gene and Len (visiting tonight) to see if they could see what I was seeing!
One final moment of playfulness, I asked the actors to disintegrate to decay and then revert to neutral –– a combined image of the entire troupe, as it was on that night, creating the joint magnificent image.
Salieri’s opening speech
As if these groups were the ghosts that Salieri addresses in his introduction, I had one of the actors speak Salieri’s text to the two groups, positioned as they were on the stage.
Now the text they had learned and were using related to a real person, had real intent and implication … they spoke directly to him and he spoke directly to them. A different quality resulted. He walked near the actors, through them, speaking the words, hearing their whispers: ‘Salieri, Salieri’ … whispers of surprise or discovery, or wonder.
Another image, now on the floor of the hall, back to Goya from Rehearsal Day 3 and the picture of the King, representing status, power, privilege. The actors who had been involved took their positions again and, although I didn’t have the photo for them tonight, those who had done it before remembered their positions and the others arranged themselves around them. Within that picture, a different actor spoke the opening Salieri lines and they whispered to him again: “Salieri, Salieri” –– this time more quietly, almost internal, an edge of contempt, betrayal, disgust coming into the playing and their looks.
And again, on completion of the lines, I asked the actors in the image to decay as they were but this time they regained their original image.
The actors withdrew from the stage in their own group, instinctively flocking, separate but together, using the gestures; through the ‘corridor’, regarding the others, turning and moving.
We danced to release the built-up energy, using the music playlist that I have been creating over the past few weeks: fast and slow, Christine and the Queens and Mozart. Coming to an end in rest on the floor, listening and relaxing.
Finally everybody in the room joined in the final circle of people, hands around our backs as we leaned backwards as one (well, as close to ‘as one’ as possible!), taking the weight of the other, sharing a moment of togetherness.
Email to Amadeus Troupe – 14th April, 2019
Dear Amadeus troupe and design and production team,
3 Here too is an interview between Christine –– now called Chris –- and the BBC on the definition of being a ‘women’ and gender fluidity.