Rehearsal: Day 13
24th June, 2019
Thoughts behind the pre-summer workshop
Our final big rehearsal with the Amadeus Troupe before the summer break. Seventeen of the actors were present.
The aim of the evening was to consolidate what we had done to date, give the participants the opportunity to clarify anything that they were uncertain of and bring this first section of the rehearsal process to a close for a break of a few weeks.
There is a sense that the work up to now has had a playful quality to it –– we are constantly searching and challenging ourselves, still with an atmosphere of (sort of) unlimited potential.
When we return on the last week in August, I believe the atmosphere will be more intensely focused. There’s nothing like a looming deadline to focus the mind. We’ll still have six weeks to rehearse, one can do a lot in six weeks. And I also believe that the stimulation that has been begun will continue on in the subconscious minds of the participants throughout this rest period, although we may not have a super-focused, joint workout together.
For those actors who are concerned about the length of time before the next segment in August, we have offered a ‘holding’ workshop on 10th July, loosely linked but different to the regular workshops.
It’s amazing how much colour impacts the eye and the mind. I can no longer work in the black / navy / grey outfits. Perhaps it was the splendour of last weeks photoshoot with red / pink / orange swathes of fabric and colour.
So a late email went to the Troupe asking them to wear a colourful t-shirt. Much better, and simple; feels like the right thing at this stage of the process.
The warm up has become a dance
The time has come in the rehearsal process when the individuals working together have reached that moment of symbiosis: working separately but together on this project.
During this section they moved and stretched, and worked into their characters, with little interruption or suggestion from me. Eyes bright and attention focused, familiar with the needs of their own body to warm up, each person was at their own stage of exploration; yet attuned to the whole body of performers.
Back to character
I went through each person and their role, to remind them, and myself, of our stage of work, steadying everyone in relation to the stage in the process we were. For the actors who are creating their roles without having lines, it has been a more difficult process as they don’t have those lines or inspiration from the play text (aside from prompts from me or the response to the work with others) to create from.
They are becoming comfortable with not being secure and we have arrived too at a point where the fluidity in gender has become something we are comfortable (and playful) with.
Actors have suggested that they might change their gender from one performance to another, depending on the night.
You might like a listen to this related interview on an artist, Tea Uglow, ‘growing into herself’and issues of gender fluidity –– it’s from a podcast called ‘Design Matters’ by Debbie Millman.
The title to this paragraph ‘Back to character’ has a double meaning that appealed to me.
When I am stuck in answering a question in this process, I return to the character. What do I have to do, as Director, or ask someone else to do –– the actor, another helper –– to enlighten / elucidate this character in this moment?
If the actor is comfortable in their role, then everything else falls into place –– I’m repeating … or reminding … myself!
One other new aspect tonight was that of exploring the voice of the character, considering all aspects of the aural in exploring the character; inviting actors to find different qualities in tone and range; finding different modes and emotions to express a line of text.
The walks included the Hunter and the Pounce exercise which we first did on The Amadeus Project: Day 7 , to remember the level of attention and concentration required for this exercise and to achieve a high state of readiness and alertness for the evening ahead.
An unexpected moment …
In the character walks, for the first time, I interrupted the walks to take off on an impromptu moment of improvisation that had arisen with Salieri. The moment had arrived for the ‘Ghosts of the Future’ to appear, for us to see the fear at this occurrence, the effect that the whispers of ‘Salieri, Salieri‘ and ‘Assassin‘ had.
Then we had a brief sojourn into the familiar mirroring, but back to the very basic steps of that exercise, working with the assigned partner: Person A leading, followed by Person B, and then swap. Back to the beginning to confirm that we had those steps spot on.
The work on the text
The Italian Lesson
There are a good few lines in Italian in the script and the tension between the German and the Italian sensibility features strongly so I invited Sara from Padua to come and give us a run through of the Italian text. It is fantastic to hear the words read by a native speaker –– the vowel sounds are completely different to an English pronunciation and the emphasis often on different syllables.
Mozart becomes Mow (as in, rhythming with ‘cow’) -zaaart. Brilliant!!
Everyone joined in, for the fun and the learning.
More to do though, for those with many ltalian lines!
I moved to the next section where the Venticelli groups will combine, to a scene where Venticello 1 & 2 bring Mozart’s manuscripts to Salieri. The others group around and observe, join in, creating a picture, an impression, emotion. The Valet and Cook are centre stage of course, being the conduits, but the others add further body to the moment.
Really, this was a first look, just to see what might would look like and to move the Venticelli groups along.
I’m finding that I am tired from the work at this point, so having the requisite energy for group creativity is tricky.
Mozart is first introduced to the Court
In the story, he has met some of the minor characters but is being formally introduced to the Emperor and Salieri.
At first, there is some talk between the Emperor, van Swieten, von Strack, Orsini Rosenberg and Salieri –– movement between them of the elastic band type shows great potential, exciting!
And another exciting thing. The Emperor sat in state higher than the others, framed by the window. It looked quite amazing –– the angle we viewed it from, the positioning of the other characters as a result, their response.
Again, just a first look –– and it was a bit awkward, with scripts in the actors’ hands –– but great potential!
Mozart then arrives into the mix and we have the playfulness with the other characters, his flamboyance and exuberance at odds with them, with their societal conventions and mores.
We had a finishing up moment in one large circle; a coming together to remind ourselves of the plans for the next few weeks for various individual characters and the entire group on the 10th July, for whomsoever is available.
There is a lovely atmosphere in the Troupe. We have worked hard up to this point but a break will be good too. In fact, for me a break is vital at this juncture, to recharge energy levels (mental and physical) and creative ideas to advance the work with a large group of people.
And I look forward to the next part of the learning in the Autumn.
There will a certain amount of set design, sound design and lighting arrangements to be made, we’re not entirely free of planning yet. More meetings for Julia, Alyn and I. But more contained, and featuring coffee!!
Email to the Amadeus Troupe: 6th July, 2019
Hey Amadeus Troupe,
And another on the 9th July, 2019