The Amadeus Project: Day 33

Rehearsal: Day 33

2nd October, 2019

Please note:

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

Day 30 with lights
Work goes on in all corners

Back again to the beginning

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

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

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

An Aside

At the risk of repeating myself, I say that I believe the entire working group  of a performance is all important. In order for the whole machine to work every cog working to its potential is the key.

What was fascinating in development here was that, as the play developed in its presentation, these backstage crew became part of the performance. Realising that the play required to move apace, given its length and the need for the short scenes to flow one into another, Jack and Winnie moved in and out of the stage, through the actors, within the scene; finding a way of being that didn’t distract and yet, held their role in the acting space.

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

Act 1

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

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

Understanding the Text

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

In the past, I would go through each scene line by line, or chunk by chunk; each section of each scene decoded as you go. Often the beginning of many rehearsals were seated, reading the play.

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

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

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

Other developments this week


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

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

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


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

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

Colm was advising on how to proceed. We brought down the blinds in the hall and turned the projector on. And we played with the light on the projector.

We moved it into various places: towards the window, on the wall, in the corner. Julia had a grey cardigan on, slightly darker than the costumes and that caught the light.

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

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

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


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

To Do
cake stand
Cake stand 1


We have some success with the PR and our blurb features in the West Cork Times and West Cork People and the Southern Star.

From now on, we need to promote the play on Facebook from the PlayActing Theatre and Schull Drama Facebook pages. We plan what images we will use, not intending to reveal too much of the design.

The Amadeus Project: Days 31 & 32

Rehearsals: Day 31

29th September, 2019

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

The whole group … 

Well, not the whole group. Two missing … but nearly all of them.

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

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

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

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

It takes a full hour to do this –– longer than I wanted but to be expected!

Scene 18

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

Then into another image, as the crowd respond to Salieri and his success.

Then on to the final image, copying Annie Leibowitz’s photo and finally flocking down the catwalk.

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

Yet, we get it done in a reasonable time.

Note to Self

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

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

From the beginning of Act 2 …

It was a long rehearsal, until after 8pm, having started at 4.30pm, and we don’t get Act 2 finished. There are books all over the stage, or if people are off book, the pace is slow and tedious.

The early scenes work well enough but really we stutter through most of it. No flow. Lots of repetition and lack of understanding of what is going on or where an actor should be. No concentration on the cues. No tension between the actors, none of the physical understanding we have been working on for nine months.

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


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

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

Rehearsal: Day 32

30th September, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In readiness

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

Throwing wobblies

I don’t like throwing a ‘wobbly’, but the clarity that comes because of it is great.

For one, the cast took on the responsibility of getting this play right. I wonder is it a psychological phenomenon amongst groups –- the handing over / receiving and accepting the control, the responsibility, whatever you would like to call it.

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

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

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

Email sent to Amadeus Troupe on 30th September, 2019

Hi everyone,

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

The Amadeus Project: Days 29 & 30

Rehearsal: Day 29

23rd September 2019

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

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

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

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

Scenes 13, 14 with Constanze, Mozart, Salieri

We’re making the first efforts to get through these scenes, trying to get the feel for them. It’s still early in the development of this work. So, I keep the actors off the stage in an effort to get the connection between them in the words.

Though I am still allowing the actors to know each other further and to know their characters intimately.

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

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

An Aside

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

Here are two different versions of the musical cue for this Scene 14:

Wie Stark Ist Nicht Dein Zauberten.’

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

If only …

In every amateur dramatic play ever done, there is a cry of If only we had one more week…!  I’m thinking in terms of a month! In reflecting recently on how this part of the process is going, what I thought was that there has been no time for the learning to settle.

Each quarter of the play has taken a week to map out. After each quarter or even after each half, a few days of playing and teasing out would have been great –– copperfastening the intent and the body memory.

To support …

We have the DJ offering music as support, involved in the warm-up and playing a few music cues within the text.

It has made me realise how important it is to use the music now within the text work all the time now … to bring life to the words and an extra support for us in order to have the beauty of the music as a backdrop and to move us, emotionally, physically, and to propel us forwards.

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

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

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

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

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

That support is immeasurable and invaluable.

Rehearsal: Day 30

25th September, 2019

Scenes 12, 14, 15 and 16

Tonight we had the Courtier group work, filling in the gaps that we had started on Monday with the Venticelli.

The warm-up tonight included some radiation and mirroring; keeping the connection, especially focusing on Constanze, building up the reservoir of skills for him to rely on in the relationship between the character and Mozart and separately with Salieri.

Warm-up with van Switen, Salieri the Younger, Constanze and Mozart behind and some of the Troupe …

He is bouncing into the role without fear!

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

To Do …

There are lots of small decisions to be made still, for example, a note I made tonight: ‘the secret Mason handshake’. In the prep notes, I have also written, ‘the response of the elder Salieri to the text’.

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

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

Checked also this week …

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

Music –– A long session in the dark (the electricity was out in Schull!) with spreadsheets of music.

John, Julia and I began at the beginning, plotting and planning, listening to possibilities, listening to sections of gorgeous music. Again highlighting the point already made, that the entire group should be listening to the music for their enjoyment and inspiration.

Set –– Great strides this week with the set construction. The catwalk was built in three days and was in situe for the actors to use on the Wednesday rehearsal.

Mostly reconstructed from the materials in the SDG shed, it has transformed the hall and our work. It will take a little getting used to: the height off the floor, the difference in the distances between it and the stage.

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

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

Julia and Winnie and curtains…

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

Amadeus poster

Email to Amadeus Troupe: 28th September, 2019

Hi everyone in the Troupe, Designers and backstage,

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

I’m attaching the photo of the Annie Leibovitz image we’ll create at the end. If you can remember how you were in it we’ll try to recreate that. Please look carefully at the pose / emotion of the individual actors.
Looking forward to seeing you all.

Posters, PR and set have moved up a gear this week. Lighting is in shortly. Getting close!!
Karen xx

The Amadeus Project: Day 27 & 28

Rehearsal: Day 27

18th September, 2019

Getting on with it

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

We work on the opening scenes of the Act involving the Courtier group.

I am conscious of bringing the actor playing Constanze along with us as a group, and yet not overwhelming him as he is new to our process.

Our warm-up includes an element of enjoying the characters, playing big –– in terms of movement through the room / set and enjoying that expression of the body; and exploring gender.

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

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

Orsini Rosenberg ‘breezing’ on the catwalk …

Later, we bring Constanze into the rehearsal, reading through various scenes and then working on Act 1 scenes on the floor of the hall with Salieri; playing with the energy and emotion of Scene 10.

Salieri took the bull by the horns here, leading Constanze all around the room, then turning to challenge and bully her, manipulate her to his own requirements.


Finally, van Swieten asked to run through Scene 14 (not on the schedule for tonight). It is a highly intense vignette in the play, where van Swieten is outraged by Mozart’s behaviour.  

Many people have been irritated by Amadeus, that’s nothing new, but only van Swieten blows. What a moment! And when the Troupe will be there in between the two of them, the scene will be electric.


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

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

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

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

Other demands

Meanwhile, work is ongoing on the other requirements:

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

Costumes  –– I pop in to the costume creators from time to time, because I love the calm, creative atmosphere; sewing machines on three sides of the table; the visiting City & Guilds seamstress creating brooches; coffee in the pot!

We talk of actors and costumes, admire colours, and chat about the small issues or decisions that arise, or the magic moments that arise in rehearsal.

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

Striking wall colour …

Music –– The DJ has started looking at the list of music cues. I’m preparing a spread sheet and list and we will go through each cue when they are ready for both acts.

We have been talking about music that might transcend the centuries, classical but with a modern beat underneath; or layering the music, one genre on another.

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

Rehearsal: Day 28

22nd September, 2019

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

We eased into the rehearsal, reading the scenes that they share, so that when we warmed up with the others, we could use some of that text and the emotion around it. We even had our own, small warm-up so that I could introduce Constanze to the mirroring exercise.

Little by little, I am introducing these exercises to this actor. It’s really nice to re-visit them for me, to remember the intensity they bring.

Arrival of the Venticelli groups

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

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

An Aside

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

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

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

Scene 2, 3, 4

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

An Aside

As this part of the work is coming to an end, I have been reflecting on the efficacy of this part of the process.  I mean, in the sense of applying the theory of collaboration and collective creativity, and allowing the actors to influence the presentation.

It’s hard to determine how much the stresses surrounding the change-over of roles have changed the atmosphere. I know for a fact that it has influenced it.

Another Aside

At this time of writing, I think that, for the process of rehearsal it would have been good to have a chance to pause in the middle of this part; to return to the work done with a playful approach.

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

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

Scene 5, 6, 7

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

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

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

I have also realised in working through the music cues with the DJ and reflecting on these pieces that I must take the musical cues into account. They will inspire me forwards to clarity.

But not today! Just the bones today and fine detail later.

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

Finishing up

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