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.

We gather

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-up with ‘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.

Walksmirroring … flocking

Then into walks, reminding the actors 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 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 gestures 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!


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…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.

An Aside

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, a 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.


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 scene … 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.

I was 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 smell, 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 came involved 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! It is 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 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 –– their secrets and hidden lives.

Images and Pictures

I wanted to bring the images we were using as inspiration uptodate, to 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 holding the lively energy until the last, then freezing in the image, 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 a painting of the fish market Fischmarkt (c. 1730) and recreated that. The image they worked from was on a larger computer creen and so 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 finish …

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

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



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, on the other hand, everybody indicates their time availability and this particular project is fluid and creative, thus far.

Also, having indicated in the email to the performers that I could be engaging with the music that has influenced the discussions between Julia and myself from the beginning: Christine and the Queens and the music of Mozart, that was core to the planning and needed to be introduced immediately. I was hoping (and hearing in my head) voices singing ‘Tilted’ and the soprano aria from The Marriage of Figaro, during the walking exercises –– bursting forth.

The set would be crucial also this evening –– a sense of corridors, playing areas, limited by imaginary walls, which recur in my thoughts since the early images we pinned to the Amadeus Pinterest board. This needed to feature in tonight’s rehearsal too.

Julia had mentioned a corridor running along the side of the hall. In my head, an area coming from the stage and swinging across the hall wouldn’t leave.

An Aside

Have a look at this link to the Amadeus Pinterest board:

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 mirroring at a freeze –– finding a partner nearby and moving together. Then walking again and a few moments later they were finding a new partner to lock eyes with and mirror, neither one leading or following.

On this occasion, I asked the actors to withdraw their radiation from this partner and to find someone else, radiating to them, locking eyes and mirroring again. Then moving on in the walk. The process is repeated, inviting awareness to withdrawing the radiation from the partner, before moving to the next person and working with them.

In the feedback afterwards, one of the actors mentioned that it took her three goes to become conscious of that radiating and the ability to withdraw and redirect it. 

The next instruction was to walk and when the freeze came, to burst into song. I was anticipating the song from Christine and the Queens. One actor braved the request, singing out from the crowd, “First I was afraid, I was petrified …”

“It’s all your fault …” It was all my fault … (see The Amadeus Project: Day 2 .) Was I clear in my instructions? Was I sure what I was looking for?  

An Aside

But, I welcomed the singer’s bravery.

Next, I asked the actors to walk but, from time to time, to add a gesture in the walking and I demonstrated a couple of body movements –– first one using their hands and then with the knee raised, until their weight shifted forward  –– from the ‘Tilted’ video. We continued to walk, trying these gestures.

Something wasn’t working, somehow these instructions didn’t feed into the work, were too abrupt.

One last matter before I moved on … flocking again. Now in week rehearsal 4, how would the flocking be? Definitely more intuitive, more focused.

Communicating with the actors

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, to practice, playfulness, then the script and the play looks after itself; there will be a critical change in the understanding amongst the actors  –– a reaching of a certain state of mind –– and their inner knowledge of story and being in a play will come to the fore.

This is my aim. 

And, in this rehearsal, communicated in words directly to the actors with the following intentions stated also:

Emails to be sent to the Troupe –– following each rehearsal, to remind of the work done and give some inspiration for the work ahead.

Feedback –– a  sheet for observations, if anyone wishes to do so.

Blog –– my record, for them to check and be sure that they were happy with the content.

Role sheet –– to indicate the actors’ role preferences and their availability.

A ‘Feeling of Beauty

I read the excerpt from the Body Voice Imagination book by David Zinder, subtitled ‘ImageWork Training and the Chekhov Technique’…reminding the actors of their beauty in being actors, here and now, expressing themselves.

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. The Venticelli 2 went first, finding a group image, using their gesture as they arrived into place. The Venticelli 1 group remained on the ground, grouped closely together (though not instructed to create an image), focusing upwards on the others –– they became the foil, the mirror perhaps, of the intensity of the Venticelli 2, An image was created without asking for it.

The two groups used the learned text, playing with it against the other group; relating to them; building an intensity, decreasing in intensity; using their gesture as part of the explanation of the emotions.

Venticelli 1 moved towards the stage on my instruction, now both groups created the image together.

Venticelli 2 group came down from the stage, flocking, moving through the ‘set’ space together, using their gesture, regarding the Venticell 1 group.

Venticelli 1 group took their position on the stage, again the process was repeated. This time I asked the Venticelli 2 group, now on the ground to create an image on the bench and table to the side. Though focusing on the group on stage, they had become part of the scene. the intensity now building to a height as they used the text to wonder, clarify, expand; with gestures being utilised …

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 movements together AND apart.

Directed to be loud, aggressive, soft, whispering, almost silent … there came a moment where I was bringing this part of the practice to an end but I had to stop … it was out of my hands, the actors were in their place of control and creativity.

I like to have a ‘moment of magic’ in each rehearsal … a promise of some quality or intensity of acting or presence.

This previous moment was utterly magical … collective creativity in action?

An Aside

I had a physical response … I had been close to the stage to bring the actors’ work to a close … next thing I was moving back to sit on the side-bench, looking around to Gene and Len (visiting tonight) to see if they could see what I was seeing!

One final moment of playfulness, I asked the actors to disintegrate to decay and then revert to neutral –– a combined image of the entire troupe, as it was on that night, creating the joint magnificent image.

Salieri’s opening speech

As if these groups were the ghosts that Salieri addresses in his introduction, I had one of the actors speak Salieri’s text to the two groups, positioned as they were on the stage.

Now the text they had learned and were using related to a real person, had real intent and implication … they spoke directly to him and he spoke directly to them. A different quality resulted. He walked near the actors, through them, speaking the words, hearing their whispers: ‘Salieri, Salieri’ … whispers of surprise or discovery, or wonder.

Another image, now on the floor of the hall, back to Goya from Rehearsal Day 3 and the picture of the King, representing status, power, privilege. The actors who had been involved took their positions again and, although I didn’t have the photo for them tonight, those who had done it before remembered their positions and the others arranged themselves around them. Within that picture, a different actor spoke the opening Salieri lines and they whispered to him again: “Salieri, Salieri” –– this time more quietly, almost internal, an edge of contempt, betrayal, disgust coming into the playing and their looks.

And again, on completion of the lines, I asked the actors in the image to decay as they were but this time they regained their original image.

The actors withdrew from the stage in their own group, instinctively flocking, separate but together, using the gestures; through the ‘corridor’, regarding the others, turning and moving.

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 – 14th April, 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.

The Amadeus Project: Day 3

Rehearsals: Day 3

1st April, 2019

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 first section


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, travelling. I, for one, was enjoying the music. Stormzy was the sound I needed at that moment.



An Aside

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 section 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.



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 we had done 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. Then, 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.


The second section

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 the time that Mozart lived.


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 group, each person identified a character they wished to copy and all of the group practiced recreating the image. They had to have regard to the status of the character and their positioning in the painting.

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. 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. Amazing to see the image.


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 commissioned to write an opera, his interest in portraying ordinary lives and in bawdy humour and behaviour, in contrast to the interests and the sensibilities of the other powerful men. Salieri is always observing.


Finishing Up

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


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. 
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

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 journalling the notes.

Rehearsals: Day 2

25th March, 2019

The hall was warm this evening. And eighteen actors turned up, no designers this time, just those interested in the performance; the majority were new faces.

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.


I set aims 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; me 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; developing into 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.

An Aside

Later, in the workshop, I mentioned about trying to hold 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.



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.


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. 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 work and finishing up

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 with fluttering hands …

Email to the Amadeus Troupe: 26th March, 2019

Dear All,

Fabulous time last night!  Well done everyone!
Just to clarify, we won’t be meeting on Thursdays at all, only Mondays for now.
So see you all next Monday, 1 April, 7.30 pm at the hall.

The Amadeus Project: Day 1

Rehearsals: Day 1          

18th March 2019

The ‘cloud’ plan of the evening was made in my Amadeus book: the aims and objectives for the evening set out to keep the session on track.

1st workshop a.jpg
Plan a –– overall aims
1st workshop b.jpg
Plan b –– the progression of the workshop

We met at the Parish hall at 7.30. The Design team arrived first and early. So we lay out Julia’s ‘mood boards’ –– about ten of them –– on the wooden floor, dealing with: set, colour, texture, birds, fashion, androgeny.

People arriving could walk around to view them in the centre of the room, and one by one, we gathered, creating a ring. There were eight attendees who would act later on and ten people who had come to help out with the design, some coming to see if they could help in some way but unsure what that might be.

Eventually, we brought chairs in a circle, around the mood boards, with the plain kitchen chair that Julia had brought to decorate, positioned in the centre with a piece of luscious pink fabric draped on the back.

There was a brief introduction outlining the overall plan to produce Amadeus for performances in October, with the mood boards to give us a sense of what we were trying to achieve … our initial ideas for the concept of the presentation.


I was keen to do some drama work that would include everybody from the outset –– establishing a group connection from the beginning, before we split into our particular areas of interest. The collective connection I encourage includes all those who are part of the process and, although I wouldn’t anticipate that the design team would be in the rehearsal space for every rehearsal session, being part of the process on occasion can be revealing and enlightening for everybody.

Games: Tell a story

So, each person spoke to the person beside them, telling why they came to this rehearsal, what their interest was in the project, what were they doing here! Each duo shared the time to exchange their stories. The atmosphere immediately shifted … enlivened … people seemed to really enjoy the mixing, talking and engaging with one another.

Then one person of the two moved to a new position and to a new person. The new duo then told the story that they had just heard, but as if it was their own, and in their own words. Finally, the participants moved to speak and engage with a third person, again using the new story that had been told to them in part 2, as if it was their story.

Energy circle

We huddled into a group. As there were a variety of people, with differing mobilities, we made a tight circle of chairs by the side of the wall, at the benches. We then sent the noisy energy around the circle from person to person; turning it back in the group; throwing it across the circle.

The actors begin

The designers then observed while I began with those who wished to do an exercise.

An Aside

It could be problematic to ask performers to work while others observe, but it felt important that everybody was included in this initial process and the designers, unused to my style of working, could see the demands on the actors and feel the emotion that this group: Actors, Producers, Designers and Director, create together.

The Walks

We began walking loosely in the space –– freely, easily, with soft focus in the eyes, eyes elevated to the horizon, moving without observing others too closely or engaging with them … simply passing by.

Then I asked the performers to pause, close their eyes and, as an act of imagination,  to become aware of a ball of energy, in a centre in their head at first, then moving to the chest and then to the tummy. Then it moved from place to place.

Then, with that ball of energy in a centre of their choosing, I asked them, when they were ready, when the momentum was right, to walk around the room from that centre. Then they moved the centre around their body and to move from there, noticing the difference that shifting the centres brought –– also exploring moving from slow to quick and back to slow and stop.

I had also spoken about radiating out the energy from their bodies in the movement.

An Aside

Already I could feel an atmosphere of focus and attention from these actors.

A set and sculptures

We created an improvised set with a number of chairs and the main chair as described above, cast around the rehearsal area in the body of the hall. Then I invited each performer to take up a place in this ‘set’ which displayed a sense of power for them.

Each actor joined, one after another, but after observing what position the previous actor had taken up. As each actor joins the focus of power shifts and the actor adapts to this changed scene.

Once each actor was within the set, the picture of the whole was frozen, briefly. Then, they relaxed and came off the set.

Th next theme was ‘vulnerability’. Again, each actor, having observed the person before, entered the set and added to the collective picture.

An Aside

There is something incredibly moving about these sculptures –– seeing the actors work together in one piece, unaware of the impact of the whole effect; their individual focus and contribution creating an image that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Separating the groups

The designers went off to the side room, with kitchen chair, fabric, scissors, glue gun, card and other paraphernalia, to create a splendid chair that we would use later. There were eight actors remaining.

Mirror exercise

Two lines of actors faced each other, four opposite four, just a short distance apart. They began the exercise of moving their bodies –– one leading, the other following –– with a mirror always between them; no words, no touching. Moving in a manner that enabled the follower to achieve the same moves –– not testing or teasing them.

Once this is established, the follower then becomes the initiator and the leader the follower. Then, the movement becomes ‘lead’ and ‘followed’ by both parties in a fluid way, neither having a defined role; bringing sensitivity and awareness to their participation.

After a time, without interfering with the mood of the exercise now achieved, I invited the pair to step away from each other and continue the work, being aware of the difference that this made to their communication.


We try flocking and I explain what I am looking for, a group movement, where the group continuously moves and flows around the room, the person in front taking the lead. The pace is slow to allow the awareness of the group to build. 

I repeat the concepts of readiness and radiation, to be considered within this process also.

An Aside

Perhaps flocking is one of ‘my darlings’! as my writer friends would describe it –– an idea that one is overly attached to. And consequently, for a better artistic outcome, it may need to be dispensed with!!

I love the idea of a group of actors having the intensity and awareness to flock effectively, similar to musicians who are utterly familiar with each other.

Another Aside

There has been a performance art project in my head involving this kind of movement for a long time. Every time that I have had a group together in recent years I ask them to try it and it’s been really impressive in a small way, never quite working out, but I can see potential … I think!

It is ok, but not brilliant. It’s tricky for people to understand what I’m talking about. We’ll see how it works next time.

So, I return to walking, moving in the space with awareness, walking freely, equidistant, then like magnets: attracted to each other sometimes, then repelled; seeking subtly and delicacy; then ‘one stop/all stop –– ‘one moves/all move’.

After this exercise, the group tried the flocking group movement again –– moving as one, with gentleness, awareness, slowness. This second time was fantastic.

The Venticelli

There is always some part of a text that appeals to me as a beginning point for a play.  The idea of a ‘society’, a community of characters within any play, mirrored by this present community of actors and artists, coming together from this community in 2019 for this project. It is a recurring theme within the plays I have directed with SDG. Society/Community is where we start this time also.

In the play, the two Venticelli are described by Salieri as his ‘little winds’. They are his source of gossip and information. They bring energy and connection to Salieri, who often is alone, lonely and isolated within the play.

Two actors read a part of  the early ‘Venticelli’ text, where they are first introduced to the audience; they are spreading gossip about Salieri and the allegation that he poisoned Mozart.

Then we took eight lines of text at the end of the Scene. The group of  actors divided into two groups, one linked to Venticello 1 and the other to Venticello 2. When the actors had learned the lines relevant to them, they then found a space within the ‘set’ for their group, where they repeated the lines –– initially saying them to each other, within their own group; then saying to the other group, across the space; finally crossing the space to mix with the other group, whispering the news.

The designers return

Three chairs had been adapted for us. They were placed near the ‘set’ we had created already, bringing color and flash to our performance area. They were grandiose: one made from card, another with luscious fabric. The final one even contained a concealed person, holding a heavy anchor, which was draped across the floor, ready to receive a body and to envelop them if they had sat on it.

The actors repeated the work they had done earlier, now within the new set, with the design team looking on.

I then played Mozart’s Kyrie from the Mass in C Minor, which is mentioned in the Amadeus text. And we read the Salieri monologue were he is realizing that he will destroy the pact he made with God to serve him because it is the music of Mozart that is so pure and beautiful. And he, Salierei, is the only one to recognize this.

Two different actors read, one sitting on the paper chair, the other standing, the readings full of passion and despair.

Note to self:

Make the actors aware of my belief and intention that if the person is developed as an actor then everything else follows for the performance.

intent –– focused / readiness

being free –– energy / lively

playful –– fluid / changing

trust –– safe