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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.