The Amadeus Project: Day 32

The Amadeus Project:

Rehearsal Day 32

6th October, 2019

 

 

Stage painting.jpg
‘The magic is in the lighting’, Manus. a previous lighting designer, once said

 

Drawing to a close

Not touching the finishing line, but within sight of it.

We prepared the next block of lighting cues, working again all day, scene by scene, moment by moment, before the run-through at 4 o’clock. It would take all the next week to get the lighting properly ready; for the lighting personnel to become really familiar with the play and confident with the best moments to illuminate.

We had a few of the proper costumes to try on and see what they were like against the backdrop lit up by the stage lights.

 

Day 32 the chaos.jpg
The organised chaos

 

Decisions, decisions …

Decisions were becoming harder as we drew to a close, and were tired as a result. The inclination is to make quick choices, as we don’t have the brain capacity to linger over the alternatives.

There are many more issues requiring discussion around peripheral matters: Should we cover the entire front of the stage with fabric, to hide the writing over the stage? (No); Should we paint the sides of the stage to darken? (Not at first –– eventually we painted one side to enhance the lighting); How often should the actors use their smart phones? (At certain points only –– we had to go through each section to determine this); How should characters wear their hair? Should a certain character have more than one pair of trousers? Should we use the Mozart chocolates in the performance or in the raffle or for a treat for the cast?

 

Day 32 Mozart sweets
Specially purchased in Vienna.

 

Each item, whether of large or small impact in my view, is a matter of importance to the questioner and requires consideration and patience. It is the nature of a production that this part of the process is demanding from that human perspective.

 

NOTE TO SELF

When undertaking a project in the future, ensure the other co-ordinators working on this project from the beginning are not also acting in the production, as they become unavailable towards the end for these manifold matters.

 

 

The run-through

That was the priority, to run through the entire play from start to finish. Essential for everybody to see what the others were doing and to know the length of the play.

At 120 pages, the play is about 40 pages longer than most full-length plays. I wasn’t entirely sure how long it was going to be, but I was a little surprised it was lasting over three hours. With continuing familiarity, this would definitely be reduced by a substantial amount –– I thought. There were actors still missing so we couldn’t have an entirely complete run and it made the pacing hard to judge. And some scenes remained to be done, although we were facing into the dress rehearsal performances during the week. 

It was the entire play today –– it would be a long, but necessary, session for everybody.

Again, in terms of the focus of the day,  it really gave everybody a chance to familiarise themselves with the play –– especially the running order of the scenes; that has taken some actors a long time to be comfortable with.

The practice of the lines is also fundamental. Those were still not perfect. And the physical movement on the stage and catwalk was a continuing challenge, getting the timing right and becoming increasingly aware of the potential audience.

 

Props

It was time to get all the props together and used in the way they should. The backstage crew went through the final props list today and the props were were nearly completed by the set decorating team or had been sourced. All were usable for the run-through.

 

Cakes Day 32.jpg
Cakes of filler

 

Presence on the stage

As we began the rehearsal process months ago, I was asking actors to disregard any idea of an audience, or moving to accommodate them, so as to increase the actors’ focus on the work they were doing rather than any imagined onlookers. As of now, on occasion, this means they turn their back to where the audience will be.

 

NOTE TO SELF

Have a think about this.

It requires further clarification for myself, and then in communicating with the actors.

What am I achieving by this?

What is the balance between the actor’s work and the onlookers’ presence?

 

 

Sound Cues

DJ Greegio had spent a second session going through the cues for Act 2 of the play; checking for length, atmosphere, appropriateness. Many of the cues are given in the script, often Salieri is describing the music of Mozart or is responding to it eg, the Requiem that Mozart completes shortly before he dies –– we added the contemporary music only in Act 1.

Tweaking the sound cues and making them fit the performances is another big element of these rehearsals.

We had always wanted to ensure that, while bringing the sounds in our production uptodate, we also needed to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of Mozart’s music.

What developed for me was a sense of how that music lifted the performances and the understanding of the meaning of the play. Sometimes in a subtle, gentle way. As any addition should, it provided support to the actors and to the presentation of the piece.

As with the lighting personnel, these sound cues developed continuously over the remaining rehearsals as the DJ became intimately aware of the actors and their work.

 

The exhausted chat Day 32.jpg
No lingering notes, just a quick finishing up with the exhausted Troupe gathered

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 31

The Amadeus Project: Rehearsal Day 31

5th October, 2019

Two of the cast members are away this weekend. The acting Troupe are called for rehearsal after 4pm. We will go through Act 2 only. My original plan was to run through the entire play but it became apparent that we still needed to do manageable blocks; consolidate the learning.

What has become necessary now is to run the Scenes, one after another, so actors become familiar with the sequence. For many actors, the logical flow of the story and their part in it is not obvious, especially actors who don’t like or manage to read through the script. For others who have read the play a number of times, this bit is easier.

How people learn and absorb information is to the fore in this part of the work; how they remember body movements, places, positioning. It’s fascinating. 

 

AN ASIDE

As a Director, I need to be aware of actor’s demands and needs, especially in an amateur dramatic context. If I am asking them to take risks, be open and take chances, then I have to make the process as comfortable and safe as possible.

How demanding is this? It seemed to me that actors might be more aware themselves –- taking notes on their scripts, for example. Sometimes, I was remembering  for most of the eighteen people, when only two or three had taken notes.

 

 

Lighting

Firstly on Saturday, I had to go through the lighting plan scene by scene with Paul, who is setting the lights, and Edmund who is programming the computer. Both have completely saved the day where lighting is concerned.

It is a long process, plotting each cue, searching for the right tone, the right effect of lighting. It is exciting too to see what the potential for the performance is with the lights working on the set.  At times, the way light picks up a swathe of paint on the set is magnificent.

I probably would not have attended this setting up if I weren’t needed. The week before I had spent time plotting the lights and noting on a spreadsheet, but the rushed nature of sorting the lighting has meant that the lighting men haven’t been able to use this record. My intimate knowledge of the play was essential to the process as we worked on, it page by page.

But I’m glad I was there, to see the possibilities unfold is wonderful.

 

5th October.jpg
Sometimes now it is the other elements that combine with the acting to create the ‘magic moments’.

 

We worked until the others arrived for rehearsal.

 

To Do

This is a list written on a large sheet. I have noted all of the scenes I need to return to. Most of those are with Constanza. We’ve read them but bringing them on to the stage is a priority.

This list is available for anyone to write on, a reminder to me of others concerns. It is placed nearby for everyone to see.

 

To Do list
Shared ‘To Do’ list

 

Rehearsal

The first on the list are the backstage crew. We finished going through the setting requirements. Little by little, all the props are in place and these too, are noted and places found for them in the props area. Because of their familiarity with the play, work with Jack and Winnie is easy. They are prepared and organised, with notes made –– often their questions anticipate ahead.

We put the markers on the stage for the furniture, it is then colour-coded. Photographs are taken of the positions and, later on, Jack and Winnie have a folder with each change noted and photographs of the stage arrangements.

 

Stage Floor Day 31.jpg
Stage floor with marks.

 

Act 2

We ran through the entire of Act 2. These are long rehearsals and everybody needs to be here all the time. There is plenty chance for people to chat and have tea together, except for the Salieris, the lighting and sound men and me. The atmosphere is building up really nicely.

Apart from the scenes I have to do for the first time over the coming week, my notes are now scribbled down. The flow of the entire Act is the important requirement.

No longer am I doing individual scenes, or going back over work, rather we are ploughing on and I give notes afterwards. In the past, this would have been done at the end of rehearsal, but our sessions are too long and to ask people to stay for another half hour of notes is too much. So, I give feedback constantly. If an actor brings up an issue there and then, I address it.

My notes are in an old copybook or scrap paper. Sometimes I can’t even read them!

 

An insight into the development of a role

Unfortunately, for the elder Salieri, there is some of the work that we haven’t been able to focus on. Until the bits that we have never done are completed with the replacement actors, I can’t focus on this actor. And until there is a real sense of flow in the text for the younger Salieri, I find it impossible to judge when the two Salieirs will connect. We have worked on this together, the Salieris and I,  and I have made notes of the intense emotional statements where the two should combine, in my opinion. But there is opportunity for more links and that is loose and undecided at the moment. Makes it difficult for Clare.

It may have been at this point that I realised that, rather than splitting this role in two, I made two enormous roles for the two actors, who both had to rise to embrace the enormity of the challenge.

 

Artists at work Day 31.jpg
Artists at work on props.

 

 

 

 

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 30

The Amadeus Project:

Rehearsal Day 30

2nd October, 2019

 

Please note:

These records are being made on 15th October, 2019, following the first weekend of performances. The blog has suffered for the sake of the final rehearsals. I’m relying on my creaking memory, the preparatory notes and the records of meetings between the various parties.

 

Day 30 with lights
Work goes on in all corners

 

We go back to Act 1. The plan is to run though it all from start to finish. My notes for tonight have a strict sequence of events.

First is the practical backstage rehearsal, going through each of the scene changes, positioning the set furniture and marking it.

Jack and Winnie are unbelievably organised and professional in this task. Always on time, always thinking about what needs to be done and the next steps; taking notes about what is needed, having read the script and been at all of the recent rehearsals.

 

AN ASIDE

At the risk of repeating myself, I say that I believe the entire working group  of a performance is all important. In order for the whole machine to work every cog working to its potential is the key. As this play develops in its presentation, these backstage crew became part of the performance.

As I realised that the play required to move apace, given its length and the need for the short scenes to flow one into another, Jack and Winnie moved in and out of the stage, through the actors, within the scene; finding a way of being that didn’t distract and yet, held their role in the acting space.

 

We have only time to run through the settings for Act 1 before the next group arrive for rehearsal.

 

 

Act 1

We get through it, words are slow in coming and sometimes we just take up the book, for the sake of everyone getting through tonight. It’s been a few weeks since we looked at Act 1 so I didn’t expect it to be marvelous. But, it’s amazing how much you lose if you don’t repeat the work regularly enough.

My notes show a reminder to check in with various actors, speak to them about certain lines, where they should be, how to make the action flow.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE TEXT

Also, I note reminders constantly to clarify text –– to ensure the understanding for the actors of what is going on in the scene.

In the past, I would go through each scene line by line, or chunk by chunk. So, you decode each section as you go. Often beginning with many rehearsals seated, reading the play.

In this current way of working, the understanding comes from the character work, the particular knowledge of the actor and the emotional charge achieved in rehearsal.

Again, I say … if only I had another month!!

 

We also have to finish looking at the scenes with Constanza, slowly bringing her (him) into our way of working –– introducing him (her) to the games and exercises that fill out our interactions and engagement with each other.

 

Other developments this week

 

Lighting

Our lighting became an issue last week, and so, the lighting men are now in all the time, trying to work around the actors and artists; during the day, at the beginning of rehearsals. They set up new lights, tweak the positioning of some of them, adding gels. And then, sit through the run-through in order to become more familiar with the play and our interpretation.

Most of the work will be done next weekend so this work is about Paul and Corey’s technical knowledge and a general layout of the lighting stock. Schull Drama Group have an amazing array of lights. It is a dream to have access to good, uptodate equipment.

A lighting designer once said to me “The magic is in the lights.” And he had an artistry with lighting that made me believe him  … mostly … At the end of the day, they are there to serve the play and the actors so …

 

Projections

During the week we went into the hall to try out a projector we had borrowed. We had been discussing using two maybe, but with time running out, the practical considerations concerning split images and double projectors were feeding into the discussions.

In the back of my head was the constant question: Is there any point in pursuing this idea? Have we left it too late? Every time Julia and I spoke, the artistic vision behind it seems to demand more creative energy and thought than we had left to give.

Colm was advising on how to proceed. We brought down the blinds and turned the projector on. And we played with the light on the projector. We moved it into various places: towards the window, on the wall, in the corner. Julia had a grey cardigan on, slightly darker than the costumes and that caught the light.

And even with only the blue light from the projector bulb working, I could see what it could bring to the production, just a small bump of visuals, a film-like colour that lifted the stage and the actors on it.

We talked about the optimum colours, the effectiveness of inverting black/white in order to see an image clearly –– white music notes on a black musical stave background, for example.

I had made a list of all of the possible places that projection might add to the play .Julia and I would gather images and send them to Colm, who would put them into a video for us. Following our conversation, we had to pare this idea back completely.

 

Set

Work was progressing on the set steadily. Each day brought an extra element of colour or construction. The walls and catwalk were completed. Now we had all the props being the focus: the cake stands, the Emperor’s chair elevated, parts being blackened in preparation for the next steps.

to-do.jpg
To Do

 

cake stand
Cake stand 1

 

 

PR

We have some success with the PR and our blurb features in the West Cork Times. From now on, we need to promote the play on Facebook from the PlayActing Theatre and Schull Drama Facebook pages. We plan what images we will use, not intending to reveal too much of the design.

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 28 & 29

The Amadeus Project:

Rehearsal Day 28

29th September, 2019

Deirdre blog 28:29.jpg
Deirdre, artist, trying out the set.
Corinna at work - blog 28:29.jpg
Corinna, artist, hard at work.

 

The whole group … 

Well, not the whole group. Two missing … but nearly. No DJ today so I was operating the sound machine. Not great really. The speakers are great but trying to operate my phone, get the cues and concentrate on the action is impossible.

The beginning was staggered from 3pm, so we could go through Scene 16 and 17 with Mozart and Salieri.

At 4.45pm the costumiers arrived bearing the entire selection of costumes. The plan was to have everybody check their costume and be ready to proceed by 4.30pm. I also wanted to see the costumes on the set, see what they looked like against the strong background.

It was great fun seeing the actors trying on the outfits and strutting their stuff on to the stage, parading on the catwalk. The costumes will be different to a period piece. No heavy fabrics to add a different feel, or fussy necklines. They are sleek and smooth looking, cool. And very contemporary. Every guest I spot on a TV chat show recently has this look, if not the colour palette!

It takes a full hour to do this –– to be expected.

Scene 18

Mozart’s death is subdued and needs to be quiet and respectful. We start with this, organising everyone to come on the stage, and then manoevre themselves so that they cover Mozart and he can leave.

Then into another image, as the crowd respond to Salieri and his success. Then on to the final image, copying Annie Leibowitz’s photo and finally flocking down the catwalk.

It’s slow and involves most of the cast, so it’s slightly confused and confusing.

Yet, we get it done in a reasonable time.

 

NOTE TO SELF

Is it too much? Too busy with all the images?

 

Notes - Blog 28:29
Notes are different now … practical meetings are have more content. Rehearsals are about running  entire blocks of the play and making notes on what I see.

From the beginning of Act II …

It was a long rehearsal, until after 8pm, having started at 4.30pm and we don’t get it finished. There are books all over the stage, or if people are off book, the pace is slow and tedious. They early scenes work well enough but really we stutter through most of it. No flow. Lots of repetition and lack of understanding what is going on or where an actor should be. No concentration on the cues. No tension between the actors, none of the physical understanding we have been working on for nine months.

I think of the poor audience and what it will be like for them. This play will last for over two and a half hours, I think. All I can see are these great costumes, the mighty set and an unachieved collective performance.

Interregnum

It was a long night, tossing and turning. Tea, Sudoku, the newspaper (nature pages –– no bad news). ideas for adapting went through my head: Could the cast carry their books with them opening night? Could we call the first night a ‘preview’, charge the audience a special rate and thereby reduce expectations?

There have been many long nights. We still had eleven days to go but the play is massive –– like ‘The Crucible” that I directed previously or “All my Sons”, both by Arthur Miller; long plays with big universal themes.

 

Rehearsal Day 29

30th September, 2019

The plan for this rehearsal was made, with renewed enthusiasm in the morning.

At the rehearsal, I asked for a warm-up, as many actors value it as much as I do, especially as their characters.

But the warm-up was terrible, more of the same lack of anything.

So, we turned to the stage and the beginning of Act 2, to run through it from the very start. And as we began, the conversations started up in the hall and it was too much for me. No discipline, no focus. And a mountain of work to climb, many parts unrehearsed or under-rehearsed

.So, I went for a brisk walk up the street and left the cast at it.

When I returned we had a quiet hall and a fantastic rehearsal.

Not perfect. But, I can see a play in it: some flow, magic moments of acting, of image-striking that move and delight and engage … even the possibility of a play without scripts!

Again, at the centre of tonight’s requirements was the need to get the Act done, a relentless drive to see the form and structure of the piece.

Throwing wobblies

I don’t like throwing a wobbly, but the clarity that comes because of it is great. For one, the cast took on the responsibility of getting this play right. I wonder is it a physchological phenomenon amongst groups? that of handing over / receiving and accepting the control, the responsibility, what ever you would like to call it.

What I know is, from that night, I felt my work was essentially completed and a large ball of stress evaporated.

Of course, I was there to continue guiding the cast through the physicality of the performance and the shaping of the emotion, the combination with music, lighting and set would continue to the opening night.

But, much of the demands would come from the actors from now on –– how could they manage our interpretation of the script? become familiar with the free-flowing ambitions demanded by this play, find a way of warming up that they could rely on.

 

 

Email sent to Amadeus Troupe on 30th September, 2019

 

Hi everyone,

confirming rehearsals this week:
Monday 30th (tonight): 6 pm for everyone.  
Wednesday 2nd: 7pm for everyone.
Saturday: 4pm everyone
Sunday: 4 pm everyone
Lines are now the priority ... followed swiftly by comfort on the set. I’m focusing today on how to make that easy. I can see people have put much effort into learning, but the type of script makes it hard to learn without everyone else there, I think.
Please take every available free moment to walk through the set, for fun, using your lines…
Please start on lines immediately when you come, if possible.
I need some magic, so I’ll do a warm-up tonight and run some scenes through it. If you could look at the first Scene where you have lines especially, I’ll give everyone a turn to warm up in this way.
Please remember the techniques we’ve been using … the elastic band, magnets.
 
We’ll go right through Act 2 tonight, from start to finish, for as long as it takes.
With confidence and love,
Karen

 

The Amadeus Project: Days 26 & 27

The Amadeus Project:

Rehearsal Day 26

23rd September 2019

 

28th September.jpg
The DJ is in place … essential support now.

 

Scenes 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 –– Venticelli groups

Back to Venticelli group scenes, ploughing through the final quarter of the play. Resilience is the key as we carry on, magic moments and flowing energy sacrificed to the need to get this done.

Having said that, the extra time we spend together now does create a newer impetus and understanding. We still don’t have every actor present for the section. But we do have very consistent actors who take good notes and remember them. And we get through the work without needing to stay late.

Scenes 13, 14  –– Constanza, Mozart, Salieri

The first efforts, getting through the scenes, trying to get the feel for them. It’s still early in the development of this work. So, I keep the actors off the stage in an effort to get the connection between them in the words. Still allowing the actors to know each other and to know their characters intimately.

The Venticelli groups are also part of the fantastic Scene 14, a great relief from the emotional intensity either side of it. It starts with the group, joined by Katharina, Mozart and Salieri. The group have moments of utter hilarity –– up to the arrival of van Swieten.

On the ‘To Do’ list are three images in this section. The music from the Magic Flute is playing, Salieri describes the action and, rather than just freeze, the crowd group can enjoy the moment and be creative. See the note regarding the music support below.

 

AN ASIDE

Sometimes, I have to be reminded to seek inspiration, rather than expecting my poor overworked brain to struggle to find it.

Here are two different versions of the musical cue:

Wie Stark Ist Nicht Dein Zauberten.’

 

 

The latter one is so old-fashioned compared to the first, or the others on the net … Can’t resist it!.

If only …

In every amateur dramatic play ever done, there is a cry of If only we had one more week…! I’m thinking in terms of a month. In reflecting recently on how this part of the process is going, what I thought is that there has been no time for the learning to settle. Each quarter of the play has taken a week to map out. After each quarter or even after each half, a few days of playing and teasing out would have been great –- copperfastening the intent and the body memory.

 

To support…

We have the DJ offering music as support, involved in the warm-up and playing a few music cues within the text. It has made me realize how important it is to use the music now within the text work … to bring life to the words and an extra support for us –– to have the beauty of the music as a backdrop and to move us, emotionally, physically and  to propel us forwards.

Having the stage painted is very helpful, and having some of the set items –– chairs and benches –– painted and adding to the visual impact is lovely too.

And, majorly, where support is concerned, we have:

(a) the Stage Manager, Jack, who is at rehearsal every night for the last four weeks, becoming familiar with the play, helping with the set-up, humping and lumping the gear and the set. He is absolutely fantastic.

Now we are delighted to have an assistant for Jack. I was introduced to a visitor one day as I went from one meeting to another, Winnie. She is delightful and has come along, without knowing anybody and completely mucked in to line runs, warm-ups, washing up.

(b) Meanwhile, Julian too runs around collecting gear or clearing unnecessary stuff to the shed, sending messages of support or clarity, preparing a speech for opening night, providing chocolate digestives!

That support is immeasurable and invaluable.

 

 

Rehearsal Day 27

25th September, 2019

 

Scenes 12, 14, 15 and 16

The Courtier group work, filling in the gaps that we had started on Monday with the Venticelli. The warm-up tonight included some radiation and mirroring; keeping the connection, especially for Constanza, building up the reservoir of skills for him to rely on in the relationship between the character and Mozart and separately with Salieri. He is bouncing in to the role without fear!

Again, the heavier scenes, Constanza / Salieri and Constanza / Mozart are kept off the stage. Until the time is right, I told them, we can’t be there.

 

To Do …

Lots of small decisions to be made still. On a note tonight –– the secret Mason handshake. In the prep notes, I have also written  –- the response of the elder Salieri to the text.

The ‘To Do’ list is getting important now, so all the small things we have to pass by in a larger rehearsal are addressed when there is a moment, or when we set time aside for it. The list is in my rehearsal book at the moment and jotted down in various places. Time now for it to be transferred to a larger sheet, as reassurance for everyone to see; and allowing add-ons for anyone who needs to address something.

Scenes 17 and 18, the death of Mozart, we couldn’t do tonight. So, first thing on Sunday and back to the beginning then.

 

Checked also this week …

Costumes –– The sewers are still busy completing the clothing. Nothing rushed or stressed. Shoes have arrived and we had a trying on session … great!

Music –– A long session in the dark (the electricity was out in Schull!) with spreadsheets of music. John, Julia and I began at the beginning, plotting and planning, listening to possibilities, listening to sections of gorgeous music. Again highlighting the point already made, that the entire group should be listening to the music for their enjoyment and inspiration.

Set –– Great strides this week with the set construction. The catwalk was built in three days and was in situe for the actors to use on the Wednesday rehearsal. Mostly reconstructed from the materials in the SDG shed, it has transformed the hall and our work. It will take a little getting used to: the height off the floor, the difference in the distances between it and the stage.

Set painting –– There are long sessions by the two artists leading the decoration of the set, Deirdre and Corinna, and their team of two, Alyn and Isabelle, to paint and advance the colour on the set. It is a wonder and beautiful –- the combination of the wall decoration and the tile-effect on the catwalk in this little hall in the far end of the peninsula. 

The aisle and walkways –– We are having to think carefully about the weather and the comfort of the audience. There is extra work hanging poles and sourcing curtains.

PR –– Posters are hung up from here to Skibbereen and Bantry. The PR blurb has been carefully worked on and sent out to the local and national newspapers, local newsletters, radio stations. Invitations have been issued to the local TDs and Councillors from the West Cork area. As recipients of an Arts Grant from Cork County Council, Art Department, we are asked to include and acknowledge the politicians in the area. I think at least two might attend!

 

Email to Amadeus Troupe: 28th September, 2019

 

Hi everyone in the Troupe, Designers and backstage,

we are meeting tomorrow, Sunday, to get through all of Act 2. We’ll start on the later Scenes 18 & 19 which everyone is in and return to the beginning then.
I know that I also have smaller scenes and vignettes to tighten up on … eg. the Theatre Scene – in the Weiden … I’m making a list and will get through them methodically.
From now on, we’re looking at the flow of the action (while never being rushed or in any way worried) and the icing on the cake!! If you have certain parts you’d like to go through, please let me know. It may be covered automatically in going back over things this coming week, but we’ll need to see what’s clunkiest and work on that first.
If there’s a spare moment, feel free to check out the set, get used to it. Anybody who’d like to use spare time to run lines with a friendly helper, just ask please.
You might also like to know that I have asked Jack and Winnie to see after most of the Scene changes so you don’t need to be concerned about that.
I’m calling the Salieris and Mozart only for 3pm and everyone else from 4pm. The wardrobe wizards will try clothes for fitting purposes and we’ll have a look at some against the set decoration.
I’m attaching the photo of the Annie Leibovitz image we’ll create at the end. If you can remember how you were in it we’ll try to recreate that. Please look carefully at the pose / emotion of the individual actors.
Looking forward to seeing you all.
Posters, PR and set have moved up a gear this week. Lighting is in shortly. Getting close!!
Karen xx
Annie Liebovitz: Vanity Fair cover

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 24 & 25

The Amadeus Project:

Rehearsal Day 24

18th September

 

Getting on with it

Like marathon runners need to find the resources to endure the twenty six miles of the road, we must continue to tease out the end of the play, right now, the text of Act 2.

The opening scenes of the Act are repeated with the Courtier group.

I am conscious of bringing the actor playing Constanza along with us as a group, and yet not overwhelming him. Our warm-up includes an element of enjoying the character, playing big –- in terms of movement through the room / set and enjoying that expression of the body; and exploring gender.

The notes for tonight are spread throughout the page … first marking the scenes to be done, then putting them in order, carefully, so that we have everyone working as much as possible and swapping around, if time allows, to go through earlier scenes or read a scene ahead.

We navigate the plan –– Scene 4, 5, 6 ,7 –- efficiently.

Later, we bring Constanza into the rehearsal, reading through various scenes and then working on Act 1 scenes on the floor of the hall with Salieri; playing with the energy and emotion of Scene 10. Salieri took the bull by the horns here, leading Constanza all around the room, then turning to challenge and bully her, manipulate her to his own requirements.

 

Coda

Finally, van Swieten asked to run through Scene 14 (not on the schedule for tonight). It is a highly intense vignette in the play, where van Swieten is outraged by Mozart’s behaviour.  Many people have been irritated by Amadeus, that’s nothing new, but only van Swieten blows. What a moment! And when the Troupe will be there in between the two of them, the scene will be electric.

 

Awareness

In describing this part of the play process as a marathon, I am aware of managing my own energy and tiredness levels and being able to reach the end.

This part is more tedious than other elements of rehearsing and is very draining. Planning takes hours –– I prepare the script from each person’s or group’s point of view. There is the setting, how the furniture will be, where they will be in relation to the furniture.

At times, I do not want to plan too much. I find it’s a constant and delicate balance of being prepared enough (to include having a strict plan for each step of a rehearsal evening) and being open enough to allow the energy and emotion of the scene to be dictated by the improvisation around the text, the style we have developed and the input of the actors ( in terms of both interpretation and physical response to the text).

While I call it tedious, it is also very exciting. I suppose, I dislike it being pressurised by virtue of the opening night looming large.

 

Other demands

Meanwhile, work is ongoing on the other requirements:

Poster –– We are very fortunate to have the support and the talent of a fantastic graphic designer. There have been ‘tear sheets ‘sent to him with our visual language by Julia and we have had a few drafts to check out.

Costumes  –– I pop in to the costume creators from time to time, because I love the calm, creative atmosphere: sewing machines on three sides of the table; the visiting City & Guilds seamstress creating brooches; coffee in the pot! We talk of actors and costumes, admire colours, and chat about the small issues or decisions that arise, or the magic moments that arise in rehearsal.

Set –– The colour of the back wall is very striking. It was a surprise … most definitely.  But the actors at the rehearsal the first evening, not even in costume, popped out against the colour –– that was great. I could see that potential.

Music –– The DJ has started looking at the list of music cues. I’m preparing a spread sheet and list and we will go through each cue when they are ready for both acts. We have been talking about music that might transcend the centuries, classical but with a modern beat underneath; or layering the music, one genre on another.

Projections –– We are chatting about what we need for the projections, a library of images, videos maybe, the possibility of layering these images over each other, where the projections will be on a screen? on the wall? Now that the wall is so dark, I think the lighter-coloured costumes will pick up the light from the projection –– can’t wait to see that effect!

 

Rehearsal Day 25

22nd September, 2019

Sunday rehearsal. It begins at 4pm today with Salieri the younger, Mozart and Constanza. I held off on the other actors until later, the Venticelli and their groups at 5pm and the Courtiers at 5.30pm.

We eased into the rehearsal, reading the scenes that they share, so that when we warmed up with the others, we could use some of that text  and the emotion around it. We even had our own, small warm-up so that I could introduce Constanza to the mirroring exercise. Little by little, I am introducing these exercises to this actor. It’s really nice to re-visit them for me, to remember the intensity they bring.

Arrival of the Venticelli groups

These two groups arrive on time and, with the kettle boiled, tea in hand, they set to work immediately running over the lines to scenes 2, 3 and 4 of Act 2, where we will begin today.

I contine to work with the others for a little while and when I return to the Venticelli gang in the side room, they are onto Scene 1, doing a line-run.

All of these actors have stepped up to these roles and this play. When we were involved in a huge play before, on dress rehearsal night, where it seemed like the play would collapse like a soufflé, one of the actors voiced the need to ‘be proud’, take their role by the scruff of the neck and do it! An enormous learning lesson for me … to be aware of the need for each actor, though part of a larger group, needs to take it on, be proud, ‘own it’ –– however you wish to describe it –– in exactly the same way as you would need to be if you were a solo performer in a Monologue.

There is a little bit of costume activity on the side-lines, checking some alterations and that the footwear sizes are good.

When the Courtiers arrive in the hall for rehearsal, our DJ is ready for the warm-up so we proceed to prance and move, greet, mirror, radiate, feel the characters.

 

Scene 2, 3, 4

Bringing everyone together, the actors see the work of the other groups on these scenes for the first time. It’s the same as the last few weeks, dogged, determined work.  But good fun too.

 

AN ASIDE

As this part of the work is coming to an end, I have been reflecting on the efficacy of this part of the process.  It’s hard to determine how much the stresses surrounding the change-over of roles has influenced the atmosphere. At this time of writing, I think it would have been good to have a chance to pause in the middle of this part; to return to the work done with a playful approach.

But time is always an issue, and we have had a luxurious amount of time.

Did I miscalculate on that?? To be decided. Feedback from the actors would also be interesting and helpful on this point.

 

 

 

Scene 5, 6, 7

Scene 5 is new today; Mozart and Orsini-Rosenberg first, then Mozart and Salieri. They work fine.

Scenes 6 and 7 are more problematic, more people in them and group image  with a certain amount of repetition of positions.

They are awkward and clumsy and need more thinking and working through.

I have also realised in working through the music cues with the DJ and reflecting on these pieces that I must take the musical cues into account. They will inspire me forwards to clarity. But not today! Just the bones today and fine detail later.

The Venticelli groups section at the end of Scene 7 worked well.

 

Finishing up

We had a quick goodbye circle. Sunday rehearsals are nice. People don’t need to rush quite so much, though I am conscious of keeping people too long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amadeus Project: Day 22 & 23

The Amadeus Project:

Rehearsal Day 22

15th September, 2019

Bringing a close to the long rehearsals for Act 1, I met with the Salieris and Mozart early, to work on their Scenes –– particularly those where they are acting within the Courtiers group … the overview of the Scene, the positioning, the relationship focusing on the practical side of the rehearsal process.

 

AN ASIDE

This practical work is very demanding energetically … engaging the head with the spatial awareness function of the brain, and combining it withe either reading the text or trying to recall it. I’ve been doing a lot of Sudoku recently on holidays and after and I think the same part of the brain is being engaged.

All the improvisational ‘in the moment’ that creates the excitement work is left aside.

 

And what of the collective creativity theory?

In the context of applying my theory of collective creative, it is now difficult to evaluate the process. This practical work is very time and energy consuming –– the planning is a mammoth task alone (and the Schedule a little awry as a result!) .

But the loss of one of the central characters has shifted the ethereal qualities of our work, not for the worse, the new cast is creating further energy and focus. Just, the three weeks leading up to and seeking a new actor has been worrisome and stressful and affected the work. How it has changed it, I don’t know.

I see the theory come through in the warm-up, when the actors own that space that is their rehearsal space and set. I invite them to respond to the set, checking it out and playfully behaving with it, exploring the old ideas of status –– eg, are they lowly wishing the Court and getting a go, in secret, at the Emperor’schair … or, does the Emperor find himself in the kitchen, with the cook nearby? Is he breezing in or sneaking?

The Troupe

We had the most amazing warm-up. DJ Greegio had arrived for the rehearsal and lead us all. I had decided to use a general warm-up, exploring the entire space in the hall. I had created the ‘catwalk’ part of the stage and all the actors used this in their warm-up also. They paraded and breezed around, utilising the furniture, and the windows.

 

NOTE TO SELF

While the general warm-up was great, ignoring the character warm-up doesn’t work, I  believe. I got feedback to this effect also from an actor.

It’s hard to let go of the luxurious time we had, earlier in the process!

This was the biggest group rehearsal since we returned from the summer holidays … the most efficient use of time and people is paramount.

From now on, I suggested that the scots consider the concepts of flow, continuity and discipline in the rehearsals. We require the play to move smoothly and elegantly from one point to another, one vignette to the next. With eighteen in the cast to move constantly in this fast-moving play, all of these concepts will be required for the best performance. It’s early in time yet to expect the ideas to be brought to fruition, but expecting them to be achieved ultimately is a good premise, in my view.

Act 1

Worked first with Salieri and Mozart, early, before the others came so we had time to be ready for when they arrived –– Scene 7 & 8.

The Cook and the Valet also came a little early and we had a run-through of their positioning for Act 1.

When the rest arrived, we had our warm-up, then began at Scene 1 and went I had explained that we needed to get through the Act as best we could, to the end. The Troupe needed to see how all their little segments related together; get a sense of the whole; see how the other groups were working; observe the progress. We have few occasions now to sit and watch. With four weeks left, it’s important to take the moments to come together.

People have tea now, as they wait their turn and share notes on their scenes.

 

Where are we?

Still clunky, getting through, and finding our places generally. There was no time to perfect, some Scenes we were positioning for the first time. The polish will come later.

When reflecting later on our days work –– five intense hours ––  the word that came to mind was ‘settled’. I felt settled at the progress of The Troupe at that run-through.

 

AN ASIDE

Later, I also felt  a bit like Salieri … greedy … I wanted more once we had finished. I wanted the moments of magic, little energetic vignettes that delight.

It had happened in the warm-up, where the Troupe were all ‘in the moment’, strutting through the space, their set, the rehearsal hall.

For another day on the stage!

 

We didn’t have a Constanza with us yet, hopefully the following day, that still brings stress …

 

Rehearsal Day 23

16th September, 2019

Act 2

The day after the marathon session, it was the usual Monday night rehearsal with the larger Venticelli groups, the Salieris and Mozart. AND Constanza has arrived!

With those of the Venticelli groups who arrived early, I went straight into Scene 2 Act 2. The Venticelli groups enter with the leaders and hang around until Act 4; practical, dogged work, ensuring everyone understands the intention of the scene, the cues and positioning.

When the actor playing Constanza arrived, we did some introductions and began a warm-up. Tonight, I went back to using the warm-up for some character work. We have about twenty minutes (we could do with double). I used magnets and the text to show how we were working, especially concentrating on Salieri the elder.

 

TO DO

Salieri the Elder is on stage the entire time. Because we have spent a lot of time with the larger groupings, it has been a while since we have focused properly on this actor’s performance at times when he doesn’t have text to say.

How will he respond, as he remembers / dreams of these scenes playing out beside him?

The time hasn’t been right until now to focus on this –– we have attended to the other actors, to understanding and learning the text. But now, it’s appropriate to dedicate time to this particular exploration, while the energy of all the other actors is around him.

 

NOTE TO SELF

Have regard for the relationship between Teresa and Salieri … she looks at him, wants to be included. Endorse and progress, subtle but impactful.

 

Each of the characters introduced themselves to the newcomer –– how they fit into the play and where their allegiances lay.

Then they showed Scene 2, 3 and 4 and afterwards I went off to the side room, where we read the Constanza / Mozart Scenes in Act 1 and the Salieri / Constance / Mozart continuation.

Back to the hall for the Venticelli groups again, see what they had been rehearsing. And afterwards, on to Scene 7. More gossip, a different position, stretched out. It works!

On to Scene 8, and the most dramatic impact of their evening, for me. I wasn’t sure to wold work, including the groups in this short scene for the Venticelli 1 & 2. But the way in which they delivered their lines and the faces in the doorway were fantastic … and brought a quality to this moment that I had not anticipated, almost operatic, like a recitative.

 

Mozart and Salieri

When the Venticelli and their groups had left, Salieri, Mozart and I continued to work, on these scenes, which show Mozart’s egotism and supreme confidence and then his  descent into vulnerability, poverty and madness, one influencing another, all under the control of Salieri.

Powerful words and images, this play resonates with our current world, the key to its longevity.