The Amadeus Project: Day 8

Rehearsals Day 8

Casting is front and centre of our thoughts in the background organisation team.

But who will be here this evening? Messages have been sent from some cast members not able to make it tonight. It seems that I / we won’t be in a position to make final decisions after this evening. I will have to meet some actors separately.

In reading later in the rehearsal, we will focus on the minor roles –– Emperor Joseph, von Strack, van Swieten, Orsini Rosenberg, the members of the Court music and administrative departments –– and seeing their characters come to life.

 

 

The Group together

But first, I bring the focus back to the group work and the collective feeling.

Clair has hurt her leg and is moving with the help of crutches. She braved the evening and we found her a chair on which to sit, in the midst of the group. In fact, we all sat down to warm-up, using our chair–bound state as inspiration for our movement, following the actions of the actors in the circle, one after the other. Our Amadeus playlist of tunes inspiring our movements.

We also said hello to one another … shaking hands, greeting everyone. Julian who usually observes from a distance (sorting the heating, checking in in case of tasks) received a line of greeting all to himself!

 

TILTED

I read the song lyrics for this song by Christine and the Queens from my phone and we sang along, with fun and funky moves in the shoulders and hands (we were still sitting in the chairs). I want to hear the voices singing now, have been waiting to hear them. And we heard them. Very cool.

 

 

 

A BIT OF TALKING

There was a bit of chat early on, unusually, before getting into the exercises. This evening, I didn’t want to interfere with the feeling that always builds up with the work. There was practical information to be given: my plan for the evening, the auditions, the Film Festival next week using the hall so no rehearsal for us.

We spoke briefly about radiation. One cast member had mentioned to me  a few weeks ago that she didn’t really understand what it was. I was explaining tonight that,in the Body Voice Imagination book by David Zinder, the suggestion is that the concept is probably impossible to explain; it is something that is felt or experienced by the actor, and becomes stronger with practice.

The fact that radiation is linked in practice with the instruction to lock eyes with your partner  ––  something that defies and challenges conventional human behaviour when interacting with people that you don’t know well –– is a challenge and complicates this experiential learning. But, it is very powerful to observe and something that deepens with practice, I believe (and the book says!).

It’s really interesting to hear the different experiences people have with these tasks, demanding different levels of bravery or determination that is utterly determined by their personality and life experiences. It’s also good to remember to check in with the actors, because the sharing reassures and encourages them.

 

And, often, a different or unique perspective of an actor will challenge us to review our thinking or practice.

EXCITING NEWS

Plus, as we chatted we divulged the exciting news that Julia and I had met with a DJ who was game to join our project and provide music on decks. He’ll come see the rehearsal in two weeks. Plus, he is keen to become involved in the playful, improvising workshop element with the music.

AND through him, we will talk to musicians and technicians living locally who work with lighting for gigs, see if we can work with them for our show, combining traditional theatre lighting with something very funky – fab!

 

 

AN ASIDE

I have lots of work to do analysing the play: the roles for the two Salieris –– how that will work practically with the text, the physical space; the  layout of the set, what areas will represent different settings (eg Salieri’s sitting room, the Court).

So the week off of group rehearsal will be well spent on solitary tasks. I am hoping that the two Salieri roles will be cast and I will have a chance to work with them together in the meantime.

 

Walking with suit jacket

We can do the walks now with the suit jackets on from the start. Up to now, the actors have picked them up mid-way through the walking practice but their familiarity with the exercises means that they are now stepping into the walks with a different awareness and knowledge –– walking to find an awareness and focus, feeling the space, moving swiftly, shifting and changing direction, freezing, backwards.

Then testing the movement of the woman and the man in the suit –– playing with the feel of it.

 

When I ask the actors to take part in the exercises, I observe in order to manage the work ––  to ensure that everyone is safe and engaged. Also to see what is created by the different participants; often it inspires me, as I have outlined in previous blogposts (for eg. my response to the Touch Awareness exercise On Day 7).

This exercise is different, for now this exploration is a personal journey (insofar as it can be when you are sharing a room with fourteen other adults) and I find myself averting my eyes so actors can work on their own for now, without comment or critique.

 

Tonight, as an extension of this exercise (I was back observing now),  I asked the actors to imagine that they were the character Mozart, in various different circumstances: some joyful, some worrisome –– playing with status and the physical feeling in response to the instruction.  We looked at Constanza in this way also, and Salieri. Actors react differently to the instructions and I like that, they may be full of energy or much quieter than others around them.

 

Often I pull actors back from ‘acting’ too strongly. When they are ‘present’ they can do minimal work to convey an intention / meaning.

 I’m back to radiation again! There is an element of trust required, that you are radiating sufficiently to connect with an audience. And, of course, a Director to observe and comment and draw you out in whatever way is necessary!

SHARING

We did some Mirroring too, to practice the radiation and locking eyes. There were an odd number of actors so we had changing mirrors, one actor taking over from another in a pair.

I asked the actors to step backwards, mirroring from afar and practicing locking eyes from this distance.

We finished this exercise with an expression of love from a distance by one actor, received by the other actor and than returned. This is a gorgeous exercise. It became slow and momentous, intimate and generous on the part of the actors.

 

SCUPLTING

As we are doing quite a lot of images in these workshops, I decided to do the sculpting sequence in GAMES FOR ACTORS AND NON-ACTORS by Augusto  Boal. One actor, without words, sculpts another into a statue. I asked for the theme of ‘Divinity’, one of our words expressing the play for us. (See these words in The Amadeus Project: Day 2.)

One actor working with one other (except for one group of three) –– careful, gentle movement of the limbs and body sculpted into an expression of awe or wonder or supplication.

The extension of this exercise came a few minutes later when the sculptor was invited to continue sculpting but from a distance, finding a means of communicating their wishes to the statue without words. (The desire to speak here can become overwhelming!)

Finally, the sculptures are brought together, creating one large group ‘Divinity’ scuplture. As director, I allowed this to become a bit too frantic. All of the sculptors and statues moved forwards into the designated space together and it became a little busy. A quieter, approach, allowing for reflection on the image as it developed, might have served the exercise better. It was enlightening though, to see the workmanlike slightly frantic atmosphere everyone brought to this section, in the small space inhabited by the sculpture, despite a quiet, intimate build-up.

The actors flipped around and did the exercise with the same instructions. Though the images were similar, each person brings a different quality to the statue. Very compelling.

I did a little of Boal’s gestural movement here too, asking the statues to move slightly, bringing another quality to the piece.

 

Characters and text

We were looking at von Strack, van Swieten, Orsini Rosenberg and Emperor Joseph; smaller roles that will enrich the play. These are the important men in the Court and wield power that impacts on the others around them, some members of the Masons.

We read the text with these characters prioritised, the audience watching them. Mozart, Salieri and the Venticelli featured in the text too but they were read from the audience only.

The first aim: to hear these characters in order to get a sense of the different personalities and see them embodied by actors. In reality, these roles will be fun parts but don’t have any development within the play so actors playing them will probably be part of the Venticelli also.

The second aim: to give everyone an opportunity to read and feel that they had the chance to audition.

 

Casting

Time to cast.  I will contact the people were missing tonight to see what their difficulty is in being at the rehearsal. But, we need to get on with apportioning  the roles.

 

This photo of a sculpture was created for the Blog at the end of the evening. The dark suit jackets bring a uniformity to the image and to the workshops that I like. And the ‘Fáilte go Scoil Mhuire’ adds perfectly to the image!

 

Day 8.jpg
Clair became the focus of this ‘Divinity’ sculpture, and I think she enjoyed it! Please also note the crutches. Nothing stops our dedicated actors! See the light streaming from above on the group … ‘twould make you think!

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 7

Rehearsals: Day 7

 

It was interesting that the aims of the evening took a bit longer to become clear. In fact, they were the last notes I made in the preparation for this evening. Last week, I  had thought we might get a chance to play with the text of the major characters, that didn’t happen then, so they were top of the agenda tonight –– playing with a number of different actors, seeing how they presented with a demanding part of the text.

Actors were invited to read the excerpts I had chosen in the email sent last week so they could be a bit more familiar and comfortable with the material. The aim of the evening to move the script along. And thereby, shift the focus from the group work.  That’s what happened.

 

AN ASIDE

And though that was the intention, I missed the group work, the buzz that has come from the entire room focusing on the same feeling or intention.

 

It is timely to focus on the main characters. We will allocate the parts to the actors very soon. In order for them to have their best opportunity to know these characters and for me in consultation to make the decisions on the combinations of individuals available to us. Casting will be a combined activity, considered and explored.

And the build-up to this was greater focus on individual work rather than the group expression of previous weeks.

 

Salieri :Mozart - Day 7
Antonio Salieri Jealous of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, print by Stefano Bianchetti

 

Check this out for evidence of a joint collaboration between Salieri and Mozart.  There is great doubt that the rivalry as is portrayed in Shafer’s Amadeus existed between them at all.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/A-German-Composer-uncovered-collaboration-between-mozart-and-salieri-180958154/

 

Warm up

Many of the the actors arrived late this evening.  Those who had arrived early started moving to the music, warming up their bodies, having a bit of a bop to Beyoncé or Sigrid. As the others joined, they moved along.

In the past, my experience is that, after a few workshops / rehearsals performers begin to know what they need to warm themselves and it eventually happens without instruction. There is a freedom to the movement and to the mindsets of the participants and the build-up in the work has brought a level of invitation to play and explore that begins to kick in at the very beginning of the rehearsal.

That is my aim and sometimes I just let the night develop, see what place the actors are in.

 

AN ASIDE

I love when this happens, when the actor feels confident and steady and included enough to be taken with the feeling in the room.

 

I have received feedback that an actor missed having an exercise to bring the group together at the beginning and that the instructions in the warm up serve that function … maybe we’re not at the point I seek yet!

The Hunt and the Pounce

In this version of the walking exercises, the participants are asked to walk as if they are alert to a malign presence, checking for it, moving and shifting around the room, with the others in the workshop, but not relating to them –– they work alone. Their attention is constantly moving around, checking where this presence might be, keeping themselves safe and ready.

Steadily, the intensity of the exercise builds up to the point where the presence is very close by, though not visible yet –– the actor isn’t certain where it is. A point of stillness with maximum alertness is reached.

Then the actors are asked to pounce on the presence, but to no avail, it wasn’t where they expected. Then again they pounce and again.

Each time, it is a false alarm until finally they come to realise that they may have been mistaken and that the presence wasn’t really there … probably …and they come back to a quieter, still place … though alert to the outside possibility that the presence is there.

My experience of this when watching the actors is that the state of alertness and awareness was acute. There seemed to be various moments when every single was utterly focused on their task and guarding themselves from the malign presence.

In the instructions, the suggestion is that this is the level of concentration and presence an actor should bring before they begin any performance. I don’t care for the malign presence element –– it brings a sense of fear that I wonder might be counter-productive.

But I do appreciate that those actors were present in an acute way by the end of the exercise.

Touch awareness

The actors split into pairs and worked on an exercise to bring total awareness to various parts of your body.

One person closes their eyes and stands, focusing on their centre of energy. The other person then touches them on their body, with one part of their body at first (a finger, a hand, an elbow).  The unsighted person brings their awareness to that point of touch, imagining that the energy moves from their centre to that point.

Slowly the sighted person chooses different parts of the other’s body, gently and respectfully choosing a variety of places, unexpected, unusual for normal interactions, such as the back of the ear, the temple, the inside of the shin.  The momentum builds slowly and eventually, two hands are used, quickly moving from one place to another, as the unsighted actor learns to shift the energy.

 

The sensitivity

These two exercises outlined above bring a whole new level of sensitivity and trust to our work. It is wonderful for me to observe this work with these generous actors. Seeing intimacy and tenderness is beautiful and compelling and the care that the actors took of one another was a privilege to witness.

Always, I aim to be attentive and sensitive to the actors’ needs and the demands on them. Whether I achieve this is another matter –- requiring constant checking of myself and the participants.

Before we began the ‘Touch awareness’ exercise, I  reminded everyone that they could choose to opt out. (Remember: ‘It’s all your fault, Karen!” The Amadeus Project:Day 2 )

In feedback later we discussed these exercises and the ‘hand’ exercise from last week where, one after the other, two actors in pairs, silently look closely at  hands of the other.

Different people found different exercises challenging, although they may have been working with friends. When I read back what I have written in Day 6 Blog, it’s as if this ‘Hand‘ exercise is a small thing … and yet, for some performers, it had a profound impact. 

I have no doubt that these exercises bring a different quality to performances and to the dynamic within this Amadeus Project Group. (See also comments later in this blog, when we began to read and workshop the Constanza text.) 

These are intimate exercises, demanding high levels of respect and trust amongst our group. That the make-up of the group shifts and changes each night is unhelpful. We even discussed whether it’s too far to ask actors to do this exercise. 

That I am present every week, as are a number of the other participants may influence my comfort levels, but I may have to reconsider what I ask of people, or ensure that I clearly off the opportunities to opt out. The participants when asked, did hear and take own board the opportunity to opt out tonight.

The process moves along and each week brings new, more intense demands. 

Immediately after the second exercise, I asked the pairs to create a chair together from imaginary snow that surrounded them. They sculpted and  worked, decorated and tried out this splendid piece of furniture. A sense of fun and hard work permeated the atmosphere.

 

The Characters defining tonight’s workshop 

 

Antoni Salieri

Salieri 2.png
Salieri by Joseph Willibrord Mähler

 

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart entire painting by Joseph Lange
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Joseph Lange, his wife’s brother in law (married to Aloysia with whom Mozart was originally in love).                     An unfinished miniature, the belief is that Mozart was to be depicted at the fortepiano. Constanza has declared this portrait to be the best likeness.

 

 

Maria Constanza Mozart

Constanza by Joseph Lange
Maria Constanze Cäcilia Josepha Johanna Aloysia Mozart (née Weber) (5 January 1762 – 6 March 1842) as portrayed in 1782 by her brother-in-law Joseph Lange.
.He was an actor and amateur painter.

 

 

The Text

Four chairs on the stage. Four actors read the part of Antoni Salieri in the scene with Constanza Mozart. At one point, there were four Salieris on the stage, one representing old Salieri and the others the younger version.

 

Day 7 d.jpg

 

There will definitely be two Salieris, to split the extensive text, split the emotion of this character, this enormous role.

First, we read through the script and then, keeping Constanza mostly off the improvised set. I focused on workshopping the Salieri lines, trying to find a way into the text and the character for these different actors.

My keen interest was in getting to the point where the actors were silently acting to the text that was read by another person and they responded internally –– finding the emotional response to his situation. Seeing  a group of actors undertake this together, at the same time was fantastic. Just fleeting moments remain in my mind from these actors as they performed: the turn of the head, the look in the eyes, the crouch of the body.

 

Day 7 c.jpg

 

I think concentration on text early on deadens it … actors pay too much attention to the words and getting those right, heads are buried in the books and we are unaware, unobserving of the other people acting with us.

 

 My theory is, that by concentrating on the actor developing as an individual, in connection with the other actors developing as a group, exploring the characters through theme and situation –– a setting of sorts plus the society around them –– the arc of the story, and the words that convey it, will look after themselves when it comes to learning  and saying them.

 

(‘Look after themselves’ = will flow and work easily)

 

We then flipped around, two Constanzas performed on the ‘set’ and Salieri read from the body of the group of the ‘audience’. Therefore, our attention was entirely on those playing Constanza and not on Salieri. Again, I wasn’t interested in the words of the text but playing with the emotions and the gestures.

Two moments jumped out at me here. In the text Salieri is directed to wipe Constanza’s mouth with a ‘mouchoir’. She has just had some of Salieri’s confections –– Venus Nipples. Shortly after this he manipulates her into kissing him lightly on the mouth, once, then a second time. These moments are small but powerful, because of their intimacy and implication for both characters (Constanza has no interest in Salieri and is desperately trying to get Mozart work; Salieri has never cheated on his wife before this, but jealousy is beginning to overtake him.) Definitely, the earlier Touch Awareness game has awakened the potential in heightening these gestures.

 

Two actors, one male and one female, also read the part of Mozart, in a scene with the character Von Strack, where Mozart displays his virtuosity on the pianoforte while denigrating the other Italian composers around for their old-fashioned reliance on ‘C Minor means gravity! D Minor means terror!’ Mozart, as usual, cannot control what he says and Von Strack, representing the official Court, is endeavoring to keep him in check.

We played with this text, finding the fun and extravagance in him, chucking away the script to improvise for a moment, thereby scaring the actors who weren’t familiar with the text, but who were tremendous in the moment.

 

In discussion later, I realized that I hadn’t asked for any men to read the role of Constanza, though I had been mindful of women reading the male roles. What does that say?

 

Next week will be the time for allotting roles; one more full rehearsal for casting purposes and to allow those wanting a chance to audition  to prepare.

We finished with a circle, holding hands, leaning back together in mutual support and steadiness … mostly!

 

Email to Amadeus Troupe, 10th May, 2019

 

Hello Amadeus Troupe,

a little delayed … this week has been different in intensity, both in the rehearsal and in the reflections since. The word count in the blog posts are getting longer –– not sure what that says!
Thank you for your work on Monday night, which was special in its intimacy. Because we are getting closer to casting, it was more intense individual work and had a different atmosphere, I believe.
On Monday next we will return to a greater emphasis on group work, although there will be  opportunities also for people to read for a role.
Any actor wishing to have a speaking role must be present on Monday night, unless you have made an alternative arrangement with me.
Just warning you that the Parish Hall isn’t available on Monday 20th May so we’ll have a chat about rehearsals for that week.
Here’s the link to the Blog: Day 7    https://karenminihan.wordpress.com
Kind regards,
Karen

The Amadeus Project: Day 6

Rehearsals: Day 6

29h April, 2019

 

A different tack tonight –– a gathering, with tea and biscuits promised!

The Easter holidays have given us a chance to rest, reflect and do some research.

For my part,  from my reading of Mozart’s early life I returned with a better understanding of him and his foibles and, especially of the society into which he was born.

 

Mozart's life  Blog 6.jpg
Extract from ‘Mozart’ by Eric Blom

 

The key words expressing our intentions for the play hold firm and true in the context of the research.

And, I find, that I have become even more interested in the working with the troupe –– this particular group of actors (of people) ––  as a reflection of any society and in relation to my plans concerning the  focus of the play.

 

The Plan

As a starting point, we were linking up with the designers, continuing the collective dialogue on the play. We had made this plan before Easter.

To be playful with them, including them in some of the workshop games but, more importantly. having them be part of the real life of the play and to see how our suits are faring in carrying out the demands of the work: creating images, being physically free.

One of the aims also was to have a discussion so i could receive feedback from the actors about the process to date –– their reaction to it and any difficulties for them. I believe in tea and biscuits. There is an ease that comes over these conversations that is different to a formal feedback session. And the participants bond over the ritual of the cuppa, again it is different to their connection from the intense and sometimes intimate work in the rehearsals.

 

 

The warm-up

It’s a really important part of the night for me, but I always struggle with it.

 

The warm-up disrobes me from the outside world and into this working space 

 

Often, if there is a chance to hand over this part of the night’s activities to somebody interested in dance, movement, yoga, I will gladly do that … I’m never satisfied with what I do, it’s not quite long / intense / focused enough for me –– I am concerned that people will get bored. And really, I have done enough warm-ups in my time to deal with this.

Perhaps it’s just the normal anxieties at the beginning of every session when faced with sixteen or so able adults that you are about to steer though the evening’s work. Sometimes it’s nice to share that.

Some of the design team joined in the circle of actors, when invited.

Tonight’s warm-up was interesting. We have come to the stage in the rehearsal process where people are aware what the aim is and they play with the warm-up for themselves. There was fun in the room, people moving to the pop music I had chosen –– something different tonight, slightly more upbeat. People stretched and bent forwards.

 

 It seems that their focus was on a freedom in their bodies rather than on worrying about doing it right.

 

I gave few instructions: one was to move one side the body differently to the other, avoiding symmetry, and to move differently with each new movement, thereby challenging old, familiar patterns; another time I invited everyone to move a little more, exploring above, below, around the space.

 

Saying ‘hello’

As well as tea and chat, I like to say hello. Each person shakes the hand of every other person in the room and greets them. This is the best way I have found to bring each person present in contact with all the others.

 

AN ASIDE

Or perhaps it is I need to make contact wth every other person in the room, whom I am about to ask to work, to take risks, to be brave –– ‘out of their ‘comfort zone’.

 

The members of the design team who didn’t join in were included in this introductory game, which lingered on, nearly becoming a tangle.

Then, to keep up the connection with the entire room, I invited everyone to pair off and regard closely the hands of the other person. This can happen one after another or simultaneously.

 

NOTE TO SELF

Forgot to get specific feedback on this game tonight in the later session. Ask about this specifically from everyone and especially the design team, for whom it would be unusual … and who must have amazing hands, being such a crafty bunch!

 

 

Back to walking

In order for the design team to see the movement, feel the energy of this group at work, I returned to our usual beginning … the walking. Of course, the troupe are also returning to being reminded of the elements of the learning so far in this process and embodying them again but always moving slightly forward, using the methods differently to discover a new or forgotten potential for movement in the body.

I think our understanding of concepts like: being in readiness, radiation and locking eyes, mirroring changes over time. The practice deepens and evolves and this happens with repetition and practice.

So, this time walking became not only a reminder and developing exercise but a use of the techniques with the suit jackets on. And this time, the actors were being observed by the design team.

 

AN ASIDE

The jackets are mostly black at this stage and this works to neutralise all of the participants (who wear dark colored clothes), where we are still shaking off the outside layers of our conventional behaviour and will slowly add the color and texture to our Amadeus world in the weeks and the rehearsals to come.

 

 

Gender fluidity

We play with movement as it relates to gender, each individual feeling and embodying what it is like to move in a subtle way that reflects their view of being masculine or feminine.

Christine and the Queens on gender and sexuality.

 

I was very taken with this interview, in particular in relation to the idea that existing preconceptions and definitions of femininity (or masculinity for that matter) can limit us.

From the outset, Julia and I were interested in bringing gender fluidity to Amadeus. In making the production of 2019, this could be simply a trick, a clever device that is simply picking up on a fashion.

It certainly reflects the images we see in contemporary fashion and pop culture –– from the catwalks that have inspired us in mood boards to the many films and TV sets featuring androgynous and robotic characters that have such an influence on our cultural development.

 

Amadeus is male heavy in the major roles. In fact, Salieri is the role. Mozart’s is ok, there’s some place for development and shifting; Constanza has a few moments, but the remainder function to develop Salieri’s story with Mozart (I am resisting saying ‘add fluff’!!).

So, what is for all the women who are part of the drama group? Are they, like many other female actors, to wait for someone to write decent roles for them?

 

Our choices are political … we are shaking it up …  the roles, the gender, the potential for sharing.

 

This is why ‘the Troupe’ has become so important, because of the work that they have done to date, and consequently the potential –– the possibilities –– we see in presenting Amadeus. PLUS, the work of the designers in playing with ideas and images, adding to the imagination and energy of the performers.

And then, everyone having tea and biscuits together!

 

Annie Leibovitz again

One last exercise for the actors to show the designers. I asked the actors to recreate the Annie Leibovitz photo as we had done in the previous workshop, this time to investigate their chosen model more closely, setting their body and facial expressions to mirror precisely what was in the photo. (Hints of exasperation and boredom in the models became clear!)

I think it’s the privilege that this image evokes that connects it to the Amadeus themes and parallels the earlier Goya paintings we were working on in rehearsals,

 

Annie Liebovitz: Vanity Fair cover
Cover of Vanity Fair –– photo by Annie Leibovitz

 

Tea, biscuits and feedback

Kimberley and Digestive Creams; Barry’s, Nescafé, Chamomile and Summer Berry were the offerings.

We created four smaller groups, sat underneath the heater and, with sheets in hand, I put three questions to the groups:

1   What about the process do you like / excites you?

2  What would you change?

3  What elements are necessary in the costumes for the demands of the role / the play?

 

Feedback Blog 6.png

 

What wouldyou change?.png

costumes- what are the requirements, limits, freedoms?.png

Email to Amadeus Troupe, 1st May, 2019 

Hi Amadeus Troupe and Design Team,
thank you to all who could attend on Monday evening. It was fantastic to have another night of exploration and development, fueled by your openness and bravery in trying approaches and ideas that are new to many of you.
I also loved having the opportunity to have tea and biscuits. In our very busy world, this doesn’t seem to happen too regularly.
(Please note that there are a few of us who tend to have a Ballygowan afterwards (not possible to sleep for a few hours!) … everyone is welcome to come.)
That session of feedback and reflection was important for me in order to check in with people. It was lovely to have the design team to observe what the actors have developed and, for the actors to feel part of the design of the production from here on.
There are some of the imaginative suggestions within the workshop that some actors find challenging (eg ‘radiation’, ‘ball of energy’). I believe that through practice and awareness, these may become easier and stronger. It’s my role to bring this to clarity for you (no pressure!).
The blog will set out the other feedback received on the night. I’ll share that with you when it is completed.
You might like to listen to this during the week. I find it very interesting and a ‘kick-off’ point for my thinking in planning our workshops.

Christine and the Queens on gender and sexuality.

From next Monday onwards, I will focus more on the characters for ‘casting’ purposes. Everybody who has expressed an interest in a role should have ample opportunity to read and prepare beforehand if they wish.
Being at the rehearsals is crucial, especially if you wish to have a role. I have had feedback that even missing one rehearsal has put an experienced performer at odds within the process.
See you soon,
Karen

The Amadeus Project: Day 5

Rehearsals: Day 5

15th April, 2019

 

Day 5: Faye and Alan.jpg
Alan and Faye share dinner before the rehearsal.

 

 

Day 5: Julia.jpg
Julia arrives, bearing costumes to try.

 

Sixteen actors tonight, two new people having a go.

Warm-up was lively, we followed the energy and mimicked others, especially when we decided to introduce a vocal element with the moves. Then to moving around.

 

Acknowledging the bravery of the actor the week before, we began the warm-upwith ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor, everyone singing, stretching their limbs, enjoying the music and the fun –– flowing, chopping, being free, and coming to a stop.

 

Gloria Gaynor  ‘I Will Survive’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYkACVDFmeg

 

Walks…mirror…flocking

Then into walks, reminding of the  lessons from previous rehearsals, this time concentrating on mirroring and shifting radiation…becoming familiar with withdrawing that radiation from your mirroring partner…sometimes they mirror was close by, sometimes far away…

We went into the flocking immediately…the two Venticelli groups from Rehearsal 4 were the core of the group, with those who hadn’t been there joining in. I invited the groups to remember their gesture and then, flocking together, to move in those groups, using the gestures.

A discussion began before any movement started, a chat about where the actors needing a place should go, a chat about the gesture…too much talking…the energy of the focused walks was lost, so the flocking was a bit the same…lost.

 

AN ASIDE

Enough flocking, I say…let it be for now and return when the moment is right. My thought from today, the day after the rehearsal…not at the time, as you will see!

 

Suits

Though the energy was down, I asked the actors to do one more walk. In order to create a fluidity in the presentation, a neutrality of gender, I have been anticipating trying this in the walking exercise.

Julia had told me during the week that she and the design team had thought suits might be a good place to start work on costume –– a suit is a symbol of power and status, which would fit into the themes very nicely. Many of the images on the mood board that we had looked at were suit type images. A good starting point? And it was timely to have a staring point! That was the opinion of the design team.

 

Christine & the Queens.png
Christine & the Queens…suited

 

 

 

Suited actor.jpg
Suited actor on walks exercise.

 

We discussed asking everyone to bring in a suit and maybe a white shirt. I had a concern that the work might be overtaken by involvement with the suit / the costume element.

 

As we regularly say, any element surrounding the actors must serve them and the play. not the other way around.

 

Eventually I sent a message by email asking the extras to being a suit if they had one and agreed that we would use the suit. during the rehearsal, though not all the time.

In the walk, I invited the actors to close their eyes and, with an act of imagination as before in relation to their centre of energy, to imagine walking as a character more masculine than they were. If they wished to, they could use a suit. Many of the actors were dressed in black, as I had asked in other rehearsals and the suits were black, so the effect of the shoulders and the black clothing and suit jackets was very effective in neutralizing the actors.

We played with that, tried being more wrestler-like, more like Colin McGregor…what change did that bring to their bodies? After working with that, we moved slowly back to neutral.

Then the same imagination brought to a more ‘feminine’ means of movement, ballerina…and back to neutral.

 

A Thought

Really interesting to observe the actors in this…needs further thought and attention…what I am trying to achieve with this?

 

And, before we finished walking, a group flocking, the moment was back, all together they moved, with that focused collective energy….better.

 

Gluttony

It has featured in my imagination since the beginning. In the play Peter Shafer returns again and again to references to confectionary in particular and Salieri’s insatiable appetite for treats.

 

  Dolci, caramelli, and most especially a miraculous crema al mascarpone.

Salieri: Act 1, Scene 5

 

Defined by he Oxford Dictionary as ‘the habit of eating and drinking too much’, the world of Salieri and Mozart is too much, too decadent, too luxurious, too removed from everyday struggles.

AN ASIDE

This will be our challenge in the mise en scène…to balance this excess.

 

Julia, Alyn and I created a set from a large table and the hall chairs. Placed on the table was a fancy cake stand and After Dinner Mints placed casually on and around the stand, with some scattered on the floor.

 

Got distracted…

As I was about to begin this group exercise, I was enjoying the look of the set and so asked four different actors to read Salieri lines, bringing them to life with the luxurious fabric around, with Salieri’s music on in the background.

 

Set + Cakestand.jpg
Table, Chair and Cake stand.

 

 

Back to Gluttony…

Then, one by one, the still-suited actors were invited to come and taste the chocolate, with conveying gluttony as the intention.

The exercise developed organically, an improvisation that moved and changed as the actors approached the table and chose a chocolate: drank in the small, gobbled it down, gorged, feasted, squirmed, hid the chocolate, grabbed extra, ran away with it, relished it.

 

By actor number three, I was feeling a little sick.

In fact,  I can remember my queasiness now as I write this!

 

I coached only a little, inviting other actors to try, sometimes asking actors to pull back in their acting –– their intention was clear.

A magic moment that lasted and lasted as, one after another, the actors engaged with the task, sometimes alone, sometimes joining with another close by –– very little engagement between them.

Great individual work and a great image to finish.

More Reading

Constanza this time…in the scene with the Venticelli –– they are trying to measure her calves to great hilarity and with a distinct frisson! –– a source of great embarrassment to Mozart who comes upon them. When a row ensues, Constanza cannot bear his shame, when she believes that he has thrown himself at every young woman whom he has taught.

Salierei has been in a wing chair all along, hidden from their view, until he can no longer restrain his surprise at their carry-on and reveals himself.

Another element to the play and the characters that people it.

 

Images and Pictures

I wanted to bring the images uptodate and have a contemporary feel to them – balancing out the Goya pictures we had previously copied.

One large group copied one of Annie Leibovitz’s photo of glamorous women, one used on the over of Vanity Fair in 2016. The actors were working from one small phone screen, trying to get the group into position. My instructions weren’t great. In fact, I hadn’t considered giving instructions at all in this regard.

If I had, they would’ve been –– that each actor, one at a time, should look at the image, choose a person to copy, and then proceed to take their place…to keep moving slightly until the last actor was in position and then lock down the image, on my instruction.

I intervened as one actor directed the others. It was ‘all my fault’… definitely…and late in the exercise to be saying it. But another opportunity to learn about communication and clarity. And tiredness at the end of the night!

The image was fantastic. Each group recreated it again, more formally this time,as the other group watched on as audience. So striking and the holding the lively energy until the last, then freezing, has some indefinable quality about it.

 

Annie Liebowitz.jpg
Copy of Vanity Fair cover by Annie Leibovitz.

 

The other, smaller group took a Karl Aigen image of the fish market (c. 1730) and recreated that. The image they worked from was on a larger computer creen and so, that was easier for them.

They too recreated the image with fantastic intensity, Because of their smaller number, the individual entries and exits were more evident. Very interesting. And again, continuing the movement the actors until all are within the image before freezing is really effective.

 

 

Goya : Fishmarket.jpg
Copy of Fischmarkt by Austrian painter, Karl Aigen.

 

To Close

A coming together in a circle,

Details of the Easter break and our next workshop were mentioned, where we will hopefully come together with the design team to look at how the suits work and connect in over a cup of tea.

I put a call out for members to help with research of the various characters within the play and the Freemasons, whose practices and influence feature strongly in the play. We’ll see how that works.

A final circle of hands behind our backs, then leaning backwards to have a combined, albeit unsteady, moment of release.

And, following the call of one of the actors, a circle of hands in the centre, basketball-team-like, shoving the fun and energy to the ceiling.

 

Email to Amadeus Troupe 16th April, 2019

Dear Amadeus Troupe,
another night of magic and wonder. A sincere thanks again to you all for your commitment and especially to the newcomers who rocked into the middle of the challenge.
As I mentioned, we will take a break for Easter Monday, back again on Monday 29th at 7.30 when we should have the design team with us to take a look at our work so far. Some feedback would be helpful to them, particularly in relation to the suits, and for further inspiration for the developing set and costume design.
So far, I have rehearsals recorded up to Day 4 on the blog. Have a look if you have a moment.
No doubt, when I think back on the work last night as I blog Day 5, I will have more to write. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday spirit and returned sun!
Karen x

 

 

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 4

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

 

Croce_MozartFamilyPortrait.jpg
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his sister Maria Anna, his father, Leopold Mozart and his deceased mother, Anna Maria, in the portrait on the wall by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

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.

 

THE ‘THOUGHTS’

                 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.

 

 

AN ASIDE

I wondered about this process. It isn’t usual for actors to indicate their preference in such a public way.

But, in reality, everybody indicates their time availability, and this particular rehearsal process is fluid and creative thus  far, so it feels right.

 

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. I was hoping (and hearing) 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. 

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:

https://pin.it/syqnrypjlume2e

 

Aims 08:04.jpg
Aims: Day 4

 

The Walks

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 ‘mirrors’ 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 Rehearsal Day 2 ) Was I clear in my instructions?  Was I sure what I was looking for? 

 

 

But I welcomed the 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

 

‘Collective creativity’

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, 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.

 

Emails –– 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 preference 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.

 

Feeling of Beauty.jpg
Excerpt from Section 40. MOVING WITH A CENTER (PHYSICAL AWARENESS), page 129.

 

 

 

Feeling of beauty 2.jpg
I also read paragraph 7. The Feeling of Ease, as this too permeates all of the work we are practicing.

 

 

AN ASIDE

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 –– Venticelli 2 went first, finding a group image, using their gesture as they arrived. Venticelli 1 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 Venticelli 2. An image was created without y asking.

The two groups used the learned text, playing with it against the other group; relating to them; building in 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; gestures being utilised..

 

Day 3: 08:04:19.jpg

 

 

Day 3 08:04:19.jpg

 

AN ASIDE

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 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 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, 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.

 

To close

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 – 14/04/2019

 

Dear Amadeus troupe and design and production team,

Apologies for the slight delay in sending this message to you…a trip to CUH and an ‘extended inflamed appendix‘ has dampened my brain cells somewhat and distracted me from matters Amadeus!
Last Monday was fantastic…I do love a touch of magic and it was there in the work that night.
(Am I, again, breaking my own rule about feedback…positive or negative? Mmmmm…have to think this through!! : )   )
Here again are the music links that were inaccurate last week.If you could use them to join in at all, it would be fab..:
1        The Marriage of Figaro
From 1.04 – 2.08 where the soprano comes in. Even lah, lah, lah!!
2        Christine and the Queens: Tilted
Check out the movement in the first minute –- up to about 25 seconds.

3          Here too is an interview between Christine –– now called Chris –- and the BBC on the definition of being a ‘women’ and gender fluidity.

I think Monday night will be a gentle rehearsal but this is food for thought anyway.
Viv O’Toole has been doing some research for me…thanks to her for sending  me a portrait of Mozart + family.
Karen x

Hi all,

forgot to remind you of wearing neutral clothing tonight please. Hair tie-backs if you remember and –– a new instruction –– if you have the jacket of a suit / tight-fitting jacket, please bring it along.
Looking forward to seeing you.
K

The Amadeus Project: Day 3

Rehearsals: Day 3

Different people came tonight: thirteen actors, two new faces, with seven missing from the previous week. It makes the creative process tricky, there’s always shifting in the relationships and the bond that comes from being a settled group doesn’t kick in until much later.

I realised the following morning that I needed to improve on communication: for me –- writing or posting a message, responding to the workshop just had; for the actors, –- to let me know whether they would be in attendance.

I also need to provide a means of giving feedback : a sheet on the night or invitation to email / contact me after workshops.

 

The warm-up

I began at 7.40, in a circle at the beginning: warming up the body by moving the various parts; highly tapping to stimulate and awaken. Then moving to the music around the room, still concentrating on one’s own self-awareness, in a mindful way really: being present there in the parish hall, at that moment in time.

The music changed to Stormzy, beating, pulsing, traveling. I, for one, was enjoying the music. Stormy was the sound I needed at that moment.

 

 

Sometimes there is a moment of clarity in a workshop. What I was feeling during that warm-up was where I wanted the other actors to be…free, playful, present. Not that they have to copy me, but where the potential for trying is endless.

 

Now that I have realized this, I will try to recreate that in future rehearsals. That is where the overall impact of the Amadeus I wish to create lies. I say this in hindsight, I wasn’t this clear at the time!

The Freedom to Fail

People take this expression to be negative but, for me, it’s about liberation from the ego that blocks and judges. If we are allowed to fail, then trying can never be a bad thing and what is stumbled upon as you go along can be magical.

I asked an actor for that freedom too last night, for myself. And that was how the night went, I was not quite sure about it. Even my notes, though prepared for over two hours on the day are in light pencil and fade-looking on the page. Bland is the word that comes to mind.

 

Workshop Day 3.jpg
See what I mean?

 

But…that’s ok too. Because, my focus has intensified as a result…and every night can’t be the same AND, there was one amazing thing that happened…see the Images of Goya paintings below…

 

It’s All Your Fault!

One other element that I keep repeating to the actors…if they are uncomfortable with something I am asking them to do they can approach me and say “It’s all your fault”.  I will accept full responsibility for that moment. It’s up to me to be clear in instruction and intent and to create a safe environment.

 

Walks

We walked again, forward, loosely, at ease, aware; equidistant in the space; then stopping with a freeze; then backwards (trying not to look back); then quickly but with utter control of the energy.

Status and chairs

Recalling the exercise last week, I placed four chairs on the set, then gave four actors a different playing card (ace, four, eight, queen). Then they entered the set area behaving towards their chosen chair according to the card they had, but not relating to each other.

When we had seen their performance, we guessed what card each actor had, and then asked them to swap status, which I gave to them. (So, the queen became an eight, the four became the ace etc.) Once they had considered this change in their bodies and acted on it, I asked them to revert back again, slowly.  The difference between the internal and external  status was mentioned.

Note to self

Consider this internal/external status at a later stage.

The second group had the same challenge although, this time, the chairs were heightened in status, draped with luxurious fabric. So, the reaction of the actors was different. I also asked this group to enter, one at a time, and they had only a little cross over between them. They were side-coached to alter their status, just a little, experiential, embodied learning.

The final group was bigger by one so I introduced another card –- a ten. This time, the group entered slowly, found their chosen spot on the fancy chairs. This time, I invited the characters to be aware of the others, without engaging verbally. The development here  was with the character with the lowest status, a buffoon-type character, bent over and staring. (High status internally??) He was invited to engage with all of the others, one by one, to see what that response would be.

Note to self

Consider again the idea of ‘pulling back’ a performance…’radiating’ the essential without pushing the emotion.

Images of Goya paintings

I wanted to do group images, but the ideas prepared earlier with notes relating to the themes of ‘gluttony’ and ‘society’ that I had wanted to pursue just didn’t seem right at this moment. It would have been too imposed on the night’s work. So, I  broke the actors into two groups and showed them two Goya paintings, made around this time.

 

GOYA 1 - Infante Don Luis 1783
Infante Don Luis, 1783
Goya 2 Charles II and his family.png
Charles II and his family, 1803

 

The actors looked at the chosen painting for their groups, each person identified a character they wished to copy and recreated the image. They had regard to the status of the character, their positioning.

Then with the other group as audience, each actor walked into their position, one by one, moving continuously until everyone was in position and then froze in position. After a moment, the actors moved out of the picture in reverse order.

Amazing to see the characters the actors could portray in a brief moment in time.

 

The Text

In order to further familiarise the actors with the characters of Salieri and some of the other minor characters, we read two different sections.

Firstly, two different actors read Salieri where he is introduced to the audience, where he fears ghosts all around, an old man in the final hours of his life, seeking comfort for the damage he has done.

And where we learn of his desire for fame and acknowledgement, for power in his lifetime, having begged God for this right.

Then we read a scene from Act II in Salieri’s apartment where Mozart is meeting with other powerful men –– the Chamberlain, Groom of the Imperial Chamber and the Director of the Imperial Opera –– Van Swieten, Von Strack and Orsini Rosenberg. We see Mozart being given a commission to write an opera, his interest in portraying ordinary lives and his distinctive interest in bawdy humor and behavior, in contrast to the interests and the sensibilities of the other powerful men. Salieri is always observing.

 

Finishing Up

We played Simsons, running around in a circle to a given prompt, bashing into one another, falling off chairs, discovering who was more assertive (some might say tad over assertive!) than the other. All great fun.

 

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 2

This post has disappeared!! I haven’t given up hope that I can recover it from somewhere in the bowels of my computer or that cloud in the sky…but I may have to start again!

 

6th April, 2019

No, it can’t be recovered so…one thought at a a time…I will recreate the remembrances of the evening. The first time that I decided to write straight onto the commuter rather than journaling the notes!! Makes you think!

 

Rehearsals: Day 2

02/04/2019

(2nd draft – 06/04/2019)

The hall was warm this evening. And eighteen actors turned up, no designers this time, just those interested in the performance, the majority of new faces amidst those who had been before.

 

set design.png
Inspiration for the set on the Pinterest page

THE WORDS

Julia and met during the week to discuss the words that we believed were behind our intentions in presenting the play.  Just like the mood boards, this teasing apart of the important words is like a mission statement, reverted to regularly and especially if there is a moment of uncertainty or indecision at a later stage.

 

Does this colour, or that emotion or a particular move tie in with the words. Or would something else be more appropriate? 

Have we addressed all of the words and intentions that we wish to catch?

 

With the Design team meeting and relying on these words and the rehearsals with the actors progressing steadily, it seemed crucial that we tied them down.

For a number of weeks we had been playing with words, taking notes here and there, sending text messages if an idea occurred to either of us.

The balance of these words was paramount for me. The play could be really dark. None of the characters are entirely appealing so, to make them recognisable and identifiable to our society, our community, in 2019, is vitally important. 

And that comes through the balance between lightness and darkness –– hence, the sort of central line with words on either side.

 

An Aside

For comparison purposes, I am posting  a photo of Julia’s beautiful version of this mind map!

 

 

Amadeus -Important Words.jpg
Our Intention – the Words

 

 

 

Blog 2 - Julia's words.jpg
Julia’s version

 

AIMS

I set times each week…to keep me focused and my intention clear. Usually there are three main aims with other tangential thoughts appearing.

 

Wkshop 2 Aims of the night
Aims for the evening…

 

I mentioned to the actors what those aims were, so they too could be aware of the intention.

 

WALKS AND MIRRORS

We began with walking around the space, loosely, with ease; coaching to keep the eyes level, softly focused, working in this large group but alone. Awareness –– of the space / room and the other actors ––  sensitivity to others and oneself in the demands of any exercise are all brought to this simple act of walking.

I then realized that I had forgotten to do a warm-up so I brought the group to standing and to quickly concentrate on their bodies, waking them up gently: from the feet to the head and neck.

Just before the walking began again, I asked the actors, as an act of imagination, to bring awareness  to the ball of energy, moving it through the three different centre as in Day 1 and then bringing to the belly centre. I asked everyone  to become attuned to this energy, and when the energy was right, to follow that momentum to a walk, then reducing the movement  to a standstill. And repeated.

We played with increasing the intensity of this exercise, moving quickly through the space –– managing  and controlling the energy, freezing, changing direction.

Then, as with magnets, being attracted to the others as they passed, then repelled.

When the exercise was settled in, I asked the actors to begin working with the person beside them in the mirror exercise, leading and following as we had done before…then changing over, then a fluid exchange between both participants. Then I asked the pairs to step apart from each other if they were standing reasonably close to one another or close up if far apart –– and to become aware of the difference in the connection between them. The side-coaching: to bring awareness of the level of radiation required between them to sustain a connection.

I started moving the pairs so that the entire group was standing in a  circle. This took a while, given the size of the group but it was really interesting how locked in people were to the exercise.

 

Later, in the workshop, I mentioned about trying to hod back from making noises or laughs during the work. The natural response of people is to please others and, in a process of exploration like this, the neutral position is important.

I was aware of people’s nervousness coming through in this mirror exercise, through laughter and noisy effort.

 

I loved seeing the actors’ responses in this exercise: people coming gradually to the intensity of the work; having to work over others when I moved them.

 

Workshop 2 feet & legs
Feet in a circle.

 

We gathered in a circle for feedback and the response was lovely – how the exercise demanded vulnerability; how one pair had a sense of being just one as they led and followed one another; how the intensity made you seek a response from the other that didn’t reflect black. The atmosphere was quiet and the energy low at the end, though it felt special to me.

1,2,3

I felt that the energy needed to rise a little, so I broke the group of actors into threes and asked them to create images together. Person 1 makes a shape, person 2 observes this shape and follows into the image, then person 3, having observed the other 2 actors, joins the image to create one group image.

There was no instruction regarding theme or message, simply a movement and a response, giving and receiving and observing.

 

AN ASIDE

Being observed is a crucial part of this exercise…being seen by others…the quintessence of performance, but which can be tricky for some people and can take getting used to and practice.

Though this may seem like stating the obvious.

 

Shortly after the image settles, person 1 leaves the group, and, seeing the image now remaining, joins again in a different place, followed by person 2 and 3.

The pace of movement also increases little by little, so there is a greater flow of the bodies and minds…with no space for thinking or planning; it becomes an instinctive response to the other actors.

 

Sculptures

When this part had run its course, I invited the actors to work in a similar way, but this time to  use the theme of destruction or decay. Soon after, in order to balance the intentions, I asked the actors to create an image of beauty and then to shift from that to decay.

This movement from one image to the next was really powerful…and the image of decay was phenomenal. People’s bodies arched or twisted in awkward shapes; their faces distorted and pained.

We had been joined by a number of the design team who had started their work early in the Old Bank House in order to come down to us and join in with the workshop or observe our developments. They became very excited by what they were seeing. I was very excited by what I was seeing! This work will definitely be used in the final production.

 

AN ASIDE

It seemed to me that, for many in the group, creating a pose of beauty was more difficult than creating that of  decay. It is somehow easier to believe in the negative, harder to believe that we, as ordinary people, are beautiful.

 

 

NOTE TO SELF

Read the piece on beauty in the Chekhov book to the actors…where the instruction is to bring beauty to everything that you do on stage and in rehearsal.

Hence all of the drama work is beautiful…to my mind, in the sense of appreciating the work that our bodies can do.

 

Text

Some of the actors read the text, revealing more about the characters. Mozart scatological tendencies with his wife; further exploration of Salieri’s text by two readers –– male and female.

 

And we finished, coming together within the circle, raising hands towards the ceiling, slowly,  finally releasing the energy to the sky but pausing there before letting go of fluttering hands..

 

Email to Amadeus Troupe –- 02/04/2019

Dear Amadeus troupe,
 
I am delighted with our progress and playfulness so far in the Monday workshops. Thank you for your focus and generosity.
 
As I mentioned last night, I see this work benefiting all actors, whether they have character lines or not. Casting for the speaking roles hasn’t begun as yet –– all options are open at this point!! –– and I wish everyone who would like a chance to read to get the opportunity to do so. I’ll have a sheet for you to indicate your preference from next week.
 
I’d also love you to give me feedback on the process (what works for you, what you’d like to change and how you would do that). I will have sheets of paper for that purpose also from next week. Otherwise you can email or phone me if you’d like to. (085 7492060)
 
If I can find a DJ, I’ll have some decks going next week…!! 
 
Also, if those of you who have particularly mentioned singing to me would like a listen to this aria and pop song, if you could sing the notes along with it, I’d love to play with that also. 
 
 
And/Or
 
 
I’m thinking that with rehearsals just once a week at the moment, I’d like to maintain the momentum so I need to communicate more with you in between, in this email form probably. Just to remind you, there is an Amadeus Facebook page also.  –– a closed group. 
 
As rehearsals are fluid at the moment, the group changes every week. If you can’t make rehearsals, it helps greatly if you let me know please. 
 
As part of the process, I am recording the workshops and developments of the play in blog form. I would like to publish these with access to you first to check you are happy with the contents. I am not being personal in the information, just commenting generally on the work we do. I need to check with you again about the photos I publish, so any images will be of feet and won’t identify anybody, until we clarify what everyone is comfortable with. 
 
If you have a difficulty with this will you let know please. Otherwise, I’ll publish the blog posts and you can check.
 
Until next week.
 
Karen xx