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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.