The Amadeus Project: Day 25 & 26

Rehearsal: Day 25

15th September, 2019

Finishing up this stage of rehearsals for Act 1

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.

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

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 collaboration and 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 arrive

We had the most amazing warm-up. DJ Greegio had arrived for the rehearsal and lead us all.

DJ Greegio

I had decided to use a general warm-up exploring the entire space in the hall.  The ‘catwalk’ part of the stage was marked out 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 one of the actors.)

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 actors consider the concepts of flow, continuity and discipline constantly 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 is 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

Then began at Scene 1.  I 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 Act; see how the other groups were working; observe the progress.

We have few occasions now to sit and watch how others are working. 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!

Through the past week, we sought another actor. From the beginning of the search, we had decided that Bridge would move to the role of Mozart. She had been considered for this role at the very outset of casting. And at this point, not only was she ‘off book’ for the Constanze lines, she knew many of Mozart’s and any other character’s who was in any scene with her!

We didn’t have a Constanze rehearsing with us yet, hopefully the following day. That still brought stress …

Rehearsal: Day 26

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 our new Constanze 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 Constanze joined the rehearsal, we did some introductions and began a warm-up. Tonight, I went back to using the warm-up for some character work. We had 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.

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 Constanze / Mozart Scenes in Act 1 and the Salieri / Constanze / 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 it would work to include the full groups in this short scene for the Venticelli 1 & 2. But the way in which they delivered their lines and the faces in their positions in the doorway were fantastic … and brought a quality to this moment that I had not anticipated, almost operatic, like a recitative.

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 … the way she looks at him, wants to be included.

Endorse and progress her work, subtle but impactful.

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.

The Amadeus Project: Days 22, 23 & 24

Rehearsal: Day 22

8th September, 2019

Salieri (the younger), Constanze, Mozart and the Prompter

A quieter day. We have had a setback. Our Mozart, who has explored and played along with us for the past six months has had to back out of the production.

The actor cast in the role of van Strack has had to back out also. Van Strack is a smaller role and the actor has missed a good few rehearsals, unavoidably.

But, with Mozart, the play as it will be performed, has developed because of his contribution, along with the other members of the Troupe who have been involved consistently.

So, it was a day to regroup and to think.

I had already changed the rehearsal to be smaller, due to the unavailability of some actors, it was just Salieri the younger, Constanze and two of the backstage crew.

Julian, the Secretary of Schull Drama Group, has been a constant support from the beginning: checking in, being part of the group, offering help, giving feedback.

Jack is the stage Manager. He has been involved in many SDG offerings in this role and he is amazing –– thorough, diligent, unobtrusive, efficient and utterly polite.

Today, they were even more valuable, Julian as a stand-in and Jack as a prompter.

The play will be fine.

We played around with the actor playing Constanze, Bridge, reading Mozart’s lines, and Julian reading Constanze’s. Perhaps it was because of this that I had the thought that a bearded Constanze would be good … male or female!

We had tea and resolved that there would be no panic!

Rehearsal: Day 23

9th September, 2019

Venticello 2, and the Venticelli Groups 1 & 2 (including the Valet and the Cook)

Some of the cast were newly back tonight and some were newly missing, so we are still making do … and mostly we were repeating the bits we had done already. There was only one new scene for the groups to manage, all the others we had looked at before.

At the beginning, we gathered together to check-in following the recent developments with the two cast members dropping out and then, to make the plan for the evening.

The actors went through Scene 1 carefully to bring those newly back uptodate on lines and the positionings.

Warm-up with the DJ

At 8pm, John, our DJ, arrived to observe the rehearsal process. I had held off the warm-up so that he could be there to see how it presented, developed, evolved, with the music central to that work: reminding everyone of our processes to date.

I was bringing those who needed it back to the steps we used to create their characters –– and those who are utterly with it had a chance to explore even further. 

We used the text from Scene 1 when the atmosphere had built up amongst the actors.

Then a song from the Opera Singer and dance / body movement from the Dancer, to further reveal  our ideas to the DJ, the Stage Manager and the Front of House Person, as they observed.

Scene 1

Then on to Scene 1: walking through, creating the atmosphere, recapping so that everyone understands what we are conveying.

We created the Goya image for the first time since we played with it in the early rehearsals (The Amadeus Project: Day 3), now peopled with the Venticelli and their Groups –– as the image will be used in the performances.

GOYA 1 - Infante Don Luis 1783
Goya painting

Finally, a last go through on the floor of the hall … always trying to reach an intensity in the rehearsal and clarity in the intentions of the actors that will carry through to the stage.

With the shifting energy that happens because of some participants non-availability on any given night, this aim is a challenge, and can’t be tied down until all the actors will be present …  

Here’s where trust comes in … and deep breathing!

Scenes 3, 6 and 8

We had a brief look at Scenes 3 and 8 –– some of the Venticelli groups are observers here. I had to make decisions whether they are necessary to these scenes or not, and I like that constant connection between the lowly characters and the higher status Venticelli.

After all, they are all interconnected, each depending on the other.

Scene 4

It’s possibly my favorite vignette –– all the characters in the two Venticelli groups are present and the fun they have when delivering the gossip to Salieri is brilliant. (They received a round of applause from the onlookers at the end tonight!)

A Conundrum

Why does Shaffer’s writing work so well? Why is it so funny?

The topics are tragic, there is a sense of doom from the beginning, a dystopian society; but the potential to cope is offered through the humour and great characters.  

Shaffer writes characters that are clear and quirky and then he allows space and movement in his timing of words and lines.

Is that it?

Is it the juxtaposition of sheer beauty (words / music ) with these darker themes?

Rehearsal: Day 24

11th September, 2019

Salieris, van Swieten,,von Strack, Orsini Rosenberg

A full complement of the Court, great to have the role of van Swieten filled by Len; with massive speakers giving us sound for our warm-up.

One new person joining the scene and embodying a character makes an enormous difference; the moods shifts ever so slightly; there is a difference in older allegiances and new allegiances become apparent, or more possible, because there is an extra person –– German vs Italian influences, for example; nuances in lines become clearer.

There was much parading breezily through the hall.

Our warm-up was longer to include the new actor, allowing the other characters a moment to use their lines, then to explain their position in the Court; then to indicate what type of person van Swieten himself was, from their interpretation of the scenes as they have worked on them.

An Aside

This would be unusual for me, to have other actors commenting on another early on in the actor’s exploration of a character.

But, as time is of the essence, I have to take disliked short-cuts.

This improvisational work, where you can see the energy between the cast as they face each other with little movement, is always great to go back to. Unfortunately, there is no lingering like this any more.

Scene 4

While we have seen all of these characters in the play before now, this is our first proper meeting with them. The nuanced relationships are evident immediately.

Goya Image in Scene 3

After the placing in the set, we created the Goya image, putting these ‘court’ characters them into the scene as they will be with the other actors.

Getting them all on and off the stage efficiently will be a challenge but what an image it will be … as they all whisper ‘Salieri, Salieri’.

Scene 7

‘Mozart is here.’ We’ve done this scene a few times, so the work really was on making van Swieten familiar with it … he was jumping in at the deep end!

Scene 8

Just the beginning of this scene, set in the Theatre … the characters across the stage as their status demands.

The Salieris

Scenes 11 & 12

When the Court characters had gone, the Salieris remained behind to do a little more rehearsing. As the time gets late, my intention is always to be easy and gentle.

Often this doesn’t work, despite myself, I feel the intensity build and we are carried away with deep feelings.

An Aside

Rehearsing with intense feeling is not very good for a night’s sleep … Clair and I were trading stories on sleeplessness the following morning! 

The learning being … to wind down together after the rehearsal, even for just a moment. So that we can leave the energy and work in that rehearsal room.

We experimented a little with the interaction between the two Salieris. There are points when the one who is speaking might be joined by the other, in the intense moments; sharing the lines, improvising as the emotion develops and the understanding of the implications of the story are revealed to the audience.

Playing on this worked really well tonight, using the text and the physicality, and built to Scene 12 where Salieri revokes his contract with God to create music for His glorification, and instead vows to be his Nemico Eterno.

Powerful … poor old Salieri, on his path to self-destruction.

Email to the Salieri Troupe: 10th September, 2019

Hi Troupe,

thanks to everyone who made the last few rehearsals so lovely. The organisation is tricky with the change in personnel…I have no doubt about the play itself and how it’s coming along with all the work that is being done from an acting perspective and behind the scenes.

A quick reminder:
Weds rehearsal this week; 8 for 8.15pm: Emperor Joseph, Van Swieten, Von Strack, Orsini    Rosenberg, Salieris.
Sunday rehearsal: 3pm Salieiris and Mozart
                               5pm EVERYONE for run-through Act 1.
Everyone needs to be there.
The side-room is also available for anyone wishing to go through lines at any stage.
Once all our changes are settled, I’ll send you an email confirming the new cast list.
I will also send a separate email with the Schedule for Act 2. Things shift and change a little, so expect some movement

10th September, 2019

Hi Troupe,
 Schedule for Act 2… Optimistic??  Kxx


16th Sep (Mon) V 1 & 2, Troupe, Salieiris Scene 2, 4, 10

18th Sep (Wed) Salieiri, Mozart, Van Swieten, Von Strack, Orsini Rosenberg, Scene 4, 5 6, 7

22nd Sep (Sun)  Constanze, Salieri, Mozart Scene 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13

23rd Sep (Mon) V1 & V2, Troupe, Salieiris  Scene 8, 9, 10, 13

25th Sep (Wed)  Constanze, Salieris

29th Sep (Sun) Everyone Act 2

30th Sep (Mon) Everyone Act 1

2nd Oct (Wed) Everyone Act 2

4th Oct (Sat)  Everyone  Run-through

5th Oct (Sun)  Everyone Technical and run-through

6th Oct (Mon) Everyone  Run through with costumes (Dress? TBC)

8th Oct (Wed) or 9th Oct (Thurs) Everyone  Dress rehearsal


15th September, 2019


Hi Troupe,

Looking forward to Sunday.
3pm       Younger Salieri & Mozart. Elder Salieri at 4pm please.
4.45pm     Cook & Valet. Could you come then please?
5pm        REST OF THE TROUPE.
We will have to go through the entire of Act 1. Everybody needs to know where each of the  sections fit together, so this will be a great opportunity to experience the whole Act. Please be on time and bring whatever you require to sustain yourself.
The issue of the flow of the play is on my mind at this point. I imagine that we will be working to the most perfect flow for the performances, but for us all to have an awareness at this point would be good.
Off script please (except Mozart).
To Designers and all Backstage: Julian and Jack tend to come to all rehearsals now anyway. For the others, please know that you are very welcome and join in the warm-up if you wish.
First time we will all be together for a while … it’ll be great! ( And challenging.) Very exciting!
See you then.
Karen xx



The Amadeus Project: Days 20 & 21

Rehearsal: Day 20

2nd September, 2019

Joseph's INstagram page.jpg
Did I mention that the Emperor Joseph has his own Instagram page? Named for his favourite phrase ‘Fêtes and fireworks’. Here is a screenshot of a selection of the posts.

Venticelli 1 & 2, and the Venticelli groups 1 & 2

The Venticelli groups and leaders were in tonight, with the Salieris. Still not a full complement when rehearsing which makes the process harder, but that’s the way it goes in community projects! –– particularly one which has been in development over a long period of time.

The warm-up was short again tonight, just a reminder of our fundamental concepts (described in the first day back in the Autumn: The Amadeus Project: Day 17), then into Scene 6.

We have done this a couple of times, so this first piece of work was to gain a sense of memory and familiarity, to propel us all into Scene 1.

Scene 1 didn’t work at all when I tried it before (see The Amadeus Project: Day 9). I just wasn’t ready for it, you’ll recall, and abandoned the attempt … I was even wondering if it was one of those things that you have to do at the very last minute, when you have finally gained the understanding of what it is you wish to achieve.

What is my aim for this opening scene? What am I creating?

For this beginning, I want to achieve flow, energy, intrigue, a sense of a society, darkness (of light and of mood). Our elastic band concept comes into this and the wonder of the Troupe coming together.

The idea of a photo …

It’s something I’ve used a few times –– a showing off of the entire cast at the very beginning of a play. 

We used the idea in ‘The Crucible’ with Schull Drama Group in 1997. There was a picture created –– like a photo –– of the cast, and then there was a repeat of that exact picture at the end, where you see the influence of the play on the cast.

The idea is inspired by Brian Friel’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, where, towards the end of the play, the family take a group photo, you see the impact of the play on them and the Narrator tells you of the story that will unfold after the ending of the story the audience sees.

There is an incredible power to the image created by the group and, combined with the individual stories recounted by the Narrator, it conveys an impression on you, the observer, of a moment caught in time.

In the case of ‘Lughnasa’ the impact is highly poignant and sad, nostalgic.

I think the same idea holds for me in Beckett’s ‘Play’, having directed it for PlayActing Theatre in 2002.

Here, the text of the first half of the play is repeated exactly for the second half, so the lived experience is clarified, maybe … certainly not repeated. But the impact on the actors of reliving the story is intriguing.

But, as always in a live performance, if the combination of elements of the performance is right, the moment can be precious.  

It is unique, never to be repeated. 

Because the audience shares in that movement of emotion and energy, they too have been part of the live experience.

When I went to Peter Brook’s Thêatre des Bouffes du Nord ( in Paris to see ‘The Suit’, Peter Brook had arranged for the the audience to be slightly lit at the end of the performance and the actors, when accepting the applause, looked directly at the audience.

It seemed to me that the actors were acknowledging the audience in the shared experience. Then the biggish cast moved around the stage, to a different point and, again, looking directly at the audience, seeing them, received their response.

Back to Scene 1 …

So, the working on Scene 1 continued, practically first: sharing the lines, searching for a rhythm and a flow in it, placing it on the set.

An Aside

The actors within this scene remind me of a Greek chorus: reflecting the mood, a commentary on the play and what the audience will come upon as the story is revealed.

Then a focus on placing and moving the actors; staying apart then coming together; reacting to each other and to their Venticello leader.

And then inviting the Salieris to become part of the scene. The atmosphere changes when words are directed against somebody; or when actors receive words. It has been daunting sometimes to be at the receiving end of the words, I have been told.

As I reflect on what I want, I am aware that the great image moment hasn’t quite been achieved (it is in the plan!) but this work is one of the building blocks. It will be different from ‘The Crucible’ where the image was laid down at the very beginning of the play, created at the very opening; here it will build within Scene 1 to create that Troupe moment, unfolding little step by little step.

Scene 8 and the Salieris 

We had just a quick look at this scene where the Venticelli give some gossip to Salieri at a party. I thought the Venticelli might work alone, but it turns out that we can’t let the groups out of this –– they must be in on the gossip!

Re the Salieris …

When the other actors had left, we had a little run through Scenes 1 & 2 … just a line-run really because we were at the end of our time. Separated from each other by the length of the hall, the two Salieris communicated to each other with a small emphasis on getting the emotion.

Once I see this intensity coming through, I know that we are on the right track.

It was nice to have this brief, quieter session together. Rehearsals now are mostly busy with many demands because of the numbers of people involved.

Rehearsal Day 21

4th September, 2019

Scene 12 of Act 1 and Scene 1 of Act 2 with Clair alone –– working through the text.

In one way it’s harder at this point to be working one-on-one as the atmosphere becomes quite intense. When other actors are around, it is easier to access emotion and be supported in that.

Although, again, it is good to have a quieter moment to check in for feedback or any concerns and Clair’s studio space is always a delight to work in, with expansive views across the countryside and the gorgeous autumnal evening light we have at this time of the year.

I was saying to Clair that I was really happy with the way her Salieri was developing –– our work to date, separate to the Troupe, is making this current part of the process much easier and makes our exploration of the text readily understandable.

Again, much of the work is practical: the lines, how to use the set, what will the props be like? … and once I can call on the actors to demonstrate a degree of emotional intensity (as I did at the end of Rehearsal 17 above), then I can relax into this part of the job.

Email to the Amadeus Troupe: 4th September, 2019

Hey Troupe,
Monday night was fantastic. I really believe in the practice of workshopping, creating a group dynamic and creative possibilities. The practical work we must do now –– become familiar with he setting, the words and the scenes –– is added on top. It’s not difficult for me, in that the magic lies underneath and we are just stretching a layer on top of that.
Of course, there is plenty of that practical work to do, and much thinking and learning, but I have no doubt that our creative work will come through, I see it already –– every evening!
Logistics are proving tricky, as people’s schedules are demanding. Please come on time. I’ll be bringing tea each time also. Maybe you should bring some food if we have a long rehearsal??
Next big rehearsal is Sunday: Salieris, von Strack, van Swieten, Orsini Rosenberg, Mozart, Constanza. EARLIER TIME please 4PM for Salieris, Mozart and Constanze.
Monday: Venticello 2 (Mark is away.) Venticelli groups. (I’ll also do the Bonno and Katharina Scene 2 and Scene 8 for Katharine and the Opera Singer.)  Starting time 7 for 7.15 please.
See you soon.

The Amadeus Project: Days 18 & 19

Rehearsal: Days 18 & 19

Tear sheets.jpg
‘Tear Sheets’ –– to inspire the poster Designer!

Day 18: Venticelli 1 & 2  

28th August, 2019

It is very nice at times to get the opportunity to meet smaller groups of people; the atmosphere is more relaxed and you can focus on those people and their questions directly, rather than having to be mindful that there is a larger group waiting around.

The Venticelli are very much part of their groups but need a definite relationship with each one another and with the other actors with whom they have dialogue.

Within the play, ‘Amadeus’, they are probably the most playful characters and both of these actors are making the most of the gossipy, high-status roles.

We didn’t have a big warm-up, though before each scene, I asked the actors to go through their lines away from the acting area: to allow them to focus on the words first and then a sense of their physicality with the words –– before they have to place them in the set.

We worked on Scenes 3, 8 & 9, finding places for the Venticelli to relate to Salieri from the street, in his apartment and in a library.

The groups associated with both characters will accompany the Venticelli most of the time, and sometimes become intimately involved in the scene. That process of combining the Troupe with the action takes a good bit of thinking through.

Venticvelli + groups.jpg
An earlier photo of the Venticelli with their groups.

Day 19: Emperor Joseph, Younger Salieri, Count Orsini Rosenberg, Van Swieten, Constanze

1st September, 2019

We did a quick warm-up with the actors using the Actors’ Choices playlist: The Amadeus Project: Playlist. I like the idea that this too is another layer that we subconsciously add as we work on together.

Again, the warm-up focus was on reminding the actors of the work done in the early part of the year and asking them to remember status / power/ gender / elastic band / magnet concepts in relation to each other. We should see these concepts in the actors’ interactions (and allegiances), in their understanding of their interconnections, in relation to the set.

This will develop and expand from now on. It’s exciting to explore the potential to be physical and understated in the acting, and to explore the words of the text.

We looked at Scenes 4 and 7, establishing the positions of the characters on the stage, how they come to those decisions, the flow between them.

An Aside

A question has arisen in the last few days about the props and how they feed into the design.

How contemporary will we go with those items? How indicative are they of the personalities involved?

We don’t have an answer yet … on the ‘to do’ list.


Constanze arrived later and we worked through her part in Scene 8, her first meeting with Emperor Joseph.

A little later on we worked on Scenes 10 and 11, between Constanze and Salieri. These scenes feel solid, familiar, as we have looked at them before –– the lines are almost there and the thread of understanding clear.

To finish

The actors are working hard here and on their own and are determined in their rehearsal ethic.

There are no photographs of the rehearsals, all energy is now taken up with getting as much of the practical application of the text onto the stage.

Only occasionally do we have a moment to bring the group together at the beginning and the end of the rehearsals. That tends to happen when the group is large. Lots of little sections at the moment.