The Amadeus Project: Sound Cues

Sound Matters

These notes and sound cues were prepared by DJ Gregio.

They were discussed over a number of sessions, with suggestions from Julia, myself, from the offerings of the cast, from the script and from the DJ himself.

DJ Greegio also attended rehearsals from mid-September and contributed from the outset to the warm-up. Finally, the soundscore continued to develop during the two weeks of intense work leading up to opening night.

He also had a separate playlist of relevant contemporary music –– inspired by Mozart –– for before the opening and half-time slots.

The Amadeus Project: Lighting Notes

Lighting Notes

The following notes were the draft lighting cues that I prepared in order to be helpful to the lighting man, Paul, who facilitated us by getting involved quite close to the end and when our original lighting designer was unable to be involved. He was aided in the preparation and operating by Corey.

In the normal course of a production, it would be the lighting designer who would prepare this document.

Paul prepared his notes on his script rather than adapting the method below. In doing so, he and I spent approximately twenty hours together designing the lighting plan, clarifying the action of the play and them with Corey and sometimes Niamh, running through the cues.

He would have preferred to be watching the rehearsals for a longer period of time, to become familiar with the play sooner.

There is a good selection of theatre lights in the Parish Hall in Schull, purchased over many years by Schull Drama Group. We were really fortunate to have a bank of approximately 60 lights from which to work.

The hall itself is tricky from a lighting perspective, in that the stage has a proscenium arch style and is very low for lighting purposes. Just another consideration in the planning of the overall design and the lighting.

The Amadeus Project: Final Projection List

Final projection list

This was the list of images and short video clips which was given to Colm and which was made into a short video for the performances.

It was ultimately a very short interpretation of our original intention. But even to undertake this abridged version of our ideas was really interesting and helpful.

The ultimate question was: What were the images that conveyed our meaning and vision … back to our thoughts and mind maps of the very early stages. (Included in The Amadeus Project: Day 2.) And, because of the time constraints, to use the minimum number we could.

Was it perfect? No. It was good enough. One of the items that we would have spent more time on if other issues hadn’t been a priority and if we had extra budget.

The list

Total time: 90 seconds

1       For 10 secs from beginning: __ Laser show

2       4 secs fade in, fade out


3     4 secs fade in fade out

4      10 secs in, 10 secs out I’d love this but can’t afford to buy it. Have looked for something on Youtube without success. Any suggestions??


5     From 3.30-3.34: __ Laser show

6       Fade in 2 secs and out 2 secs


7       Fade in 2 secs and out 2 secs


8    8 seconds in all piano from .12 seconds in

9    Fade in and out … about 5 seconds in total

Mozart's score

9    (sic) Fade in over number 9 for 10 seconds in total — phones

10     fade in and out 6 seconds, one after other

11    10 secs –– twinkly lights

12    5 secs —- ink droplets

13    10 secs

For 10 secs from middle of video, 1.12 – 1.20 __ Laser show

The Amadeus Project: Reflections



I took a note of my own reflections on the Amadeus Project and the process involved on 15th October, 2019.

The Amazing things

There were many amazing things. I loved the entire process of working with everybody, whatever their role. The venue and the outcome in the design and setting was fantastic. Constantly, I would stop to admire a look or a moment, sometimes with the actors, sometimes without.

The relationships between people were really positive from my point of view. The three of us co-ordinating the mise en scene are a great team. I would work with Julia and Alyn again in a heartbeat.

There was a positive, lovely atmosphere during the ten months of work within the Troupe. Everyone was willing to help and get involved in the most menial of tasks.

It was a huge effort and commitment from actors, designers, set and props artists, costumiers, backstage, lighting man, music DJ, projection assistant. Everyone who continued to be part of the production stepped up to the demands of the workshops and of the play itself.

It is always amazing to be in the intimate grouping that working on a play creates. To be talking theatre, and Amadeus in particular, is always a delight for me. Even when the response was difficult, it created a discussion and thoughts on the place of plays in our world. It makes you consider your own views and clarify them.

And the audience suspending disbelief. How wonderful when you are concerned about certain aspect where you feel the audience won’t let you away with it … and they do!

The Tricky things

Issues around casting and characters changing roles because of actor difficulties were a cause of great tension. As a result, the rehearsals following those changes, really up to the opening night, were extra difficult and a strain because of a shortage of time.

The most difficult was when we weren’t sure we had a full cast; after that the pressure of bringing people up to speed was still trying but there were really great moments also.

Commitment is an enormous ask in a play of this magnitude and in a project of this length. That we didn’t have a full cast together until the first Dress Rehearsal was very difficult. In another project I would be clearer in my demands where the time commitment was concerned.

I find it a challenge to demand discipline at times, to ask actors to follow my wishes and my own beliefs, when that involves focus and attention. It is easy in workshops but that control of energy and absolute focus didn’t translate into the backstage and side stage arenas. This was a disappointment and is a demand I would make more clearly in the future.

DJ Greegio brought fantastic energy and music ideas to the music plot. Although I thought the music worked very well, especially as the run developed and he and I crafted the music better, Julia had been involved in the design of the music for the play early on and she had wonderful ideas about the use of contemporary pop music. The first Act was more influenced by her and was better for it.

Lighting was also an area where we ran out of time. Ideally we would have had a lighting designer on board from the early months of the process. We were fortunate to have a lighting operator, Paul, who came on board when we were stuck and who was a fantastic help in the last two weeks. I ended up designing the lighting plan with him.

The Younger Salieri

The reflections from the Troupe

I wrote to the Amadeus Troupe, asking them to write a reflective piece for me. This is an extract from an email to them on 1st November, 2019, setting out my request to them.

“… Re: my research. I would love to get your feedback on the Amadeus experience for each of you. Whatever reflection/comments you wish to give is perfect. 

If you would like parameters, here are my suggestions:

1   What was your experience of the Amadeus project?  –– workshops, rehearsals, performances and focus on creativity in a group context.

2   What would you do differently?
3   Any other thoughts?
My intention would be to make the information public, but I can keep it private if you wished (I will still have your reflections to learn from) or I can let your name off the comments, whatever you feel comfortable with.

I am reluctant to let this amazing process go. I miss the camaraderie and moments of magic in the work. Ah well, there it is …”

Report from Alyn Fenn, November 2019

The workshops were fantastic.  I thought there was so much magic and intensity going on in them.  With Karen’s guidance, we made our characters come alive in those workshops.  That ball of energy, the different kinds of walking, the mirroring, the flocking, the status, the lines of text – so that when you went on stage you already knew/felt? (I don’t mean ‘knowing’ with your brain, more that you just organically ‘knew’) exactly how to move and behave, providing you engaged the necessary focus.

I love it when I can really focus and the person/s I am working with is/are also 100% present.  In one of the mirroring exercises we did, I felt as if I became my partner and she became me, her hands were my hands, we were moving as a single entity.  It was as if we were joined to each other by a field of energy that we had created out of the intensity of our focus. Magic. The magic is in those moments.

Ideally, before I’d go on stage I would take control of my ball of energy, put it right in the centre of my stomach and lead from there.  In reality, I sometimes didn’t do it, distracted for one reason or another. It would be great if you got so used to doing this that it became as natural as breathing.  

The whole project tapped into the feeling of being members of a tribe, joined together in activities that were celebrations of our collective creativity.   It was wonderful to make such special connections with so many new people.

I think we could have used another week of rehearsals, owing to people being away in the weeks leading up to opening night, which, while unavoidable, was somewhat incompatible with the tight schedule.  We could also have added an extra weekend of performances from the outset.

Overall, it was an amazing experience to be a part of such a creative and innovative project and I am definitely ready for the next one, whatever that may be!  Thank you, Karen Minihan, for all the magic!  

Report from Julian van Hasselt, November 2019


The audience result was OK in the end, numbers built progressively and we had approx 100 on the last night, which was not bad considering that the play was never going to be a  massive crowd-puller in the Mizen environment. The tragedy of Jody (sic) Healy probably had a bad effect on numbers over the first weekend, but it is hard to quantify this… About 330 people got to see the play, again not bad. 

Front of House

Can’t think of anything that went wrong. I remember being rather nervous going on stage on the first night  ( forgot to have a large G&T beforehand !!). Given that the play was so long, my very short intro speech, with no attempt at warm-up wisecracks,  was just the ticket, and exiting off backstage ( your idea) worked fine.  The idea of having me, Lydia and Jess in 18th C costume was inspired, and people thought that was great. The only problem I had was that my trousers were only held up my one popper and it kept unpoppjng – and the trousers kept falling down. I dreaded that this would  happen whilst I was on stage, but mercifully it didn’t.

Paul had some clever way of controlllng the house lights from up in the box, and seemed to spend quite a bit time before the show assisting with welcome and seating etc which was a help too. 

Raffle ticket sales were healthy and steady, and all the donated prizes much appreciated by all concerned I am sure. I added an extra bottle of wine on each night  ( donated 3 and bought 3 on SDG’s behalf, as I thought that only one bottle of Prosecco looked a bit thin.  My policy on SDG production has always been to provide good quality prizes and make the raffle an additional feel-good factor as much as possible.  Heating : that hall is a cold building but I think we got that about right. Leaving the rear heaters on during the show is not our usual SDG procedure but it did not detract from stage lighting effects in the event and I will take note in future. 

The Gazebo worked well despite my initial misgivings , but we were perhaps a bit lucky with the weather. A severe gale would have caused us problems. The alternative entrance idea likewise was a change that worked fine.  That sandwich board on the pavement is a good tool. 

Lighting and music,  costumes  

All fine  and dandy as far as I could see. John did a great job as DJ. The limitations of the lighting system in that Hall ( no lights above the stage itself)  did not stop you achieving some wonderful visual images, and Joy’s singing was treat of course.  The lighting did NOT bleach out the pale colours of the costumes  as I had initially feared that it might… 

The Play and the acting 

Was it too long for the Schull audience ?   Depends who you talk to !  Should you have cut it a bit at an early stage of rehearsal  ?  Maybe !  But the production  overcame this in the end , I think, the lines were learned and the acting standard was high,  and we got the full monty  , so there it is !!   Well done all, I say.

Backstage and set 

All brilliantly designed and thought out.  Jack and Winnie moved like a couple of sleek black cats moving those chairs and benches, very slick !   It was strangely fascinating to watch in itself !  And nobody fell off the walkway…….

Jasper and Jack did a great job building the walkway etc, and I watched them do it over several days  whilst pretending to be of help ( usually just holding a broom to sweep up sawdust and making helpful comments like “ How does this powerdrill  actually work ?” and “ Er, I’ve never actually used an angle-grinder before so maybe you do it ?”.   I thought Jasper’s contribution was efficient and cost-effective and well-organised,  and completely easy-tempered  in the face of my rather limited expertise  with claw-hammers, screw-drivers and so on, even though it came at a price. I would put him on the “again” list for future reference…

Amadeus Report, November 2019

Name Julia Zagar

Role Production Designer

Emperor Joseph

Areas of Responsibility

Initiate and determine the ‘look’ of the production

Form design teams

Liaise with Director to realise both her vision and practicality of ideas

Liaise with Director on most areas, staging, lighting, sound, music, decoration, costumes, props and even direction.


PR, press coverage, social media, poster and programme


The process started as it always does with the development of mood boards.  Mood boards were made for all the visual areas of the production, costumes, staging, costumes, lightings, head dresses, atmosphere etc.  As with any production the scope was huge and the ideas were far reaching and inspiring. Whereas we left a lot of what we initially thought about behind, I think mood boards are great way to start and get the mind focused and they can be useful to return to when you meet a road block later in the production process.

The Director and I spent quite some time developing a mood map, determining our touchstone words.  This was very helpful and throughout the process we returned to those words for direction and reassurance.

The next step was to establish a design team.  A call out was made to anyone who was interested in the getting involved.  I was very firm that I wanted to include as many skill sets as I could, I wanted to have the benefit of a wide range of creative people involved.  To encourage people who maybe had not been involved in Schull productions before to join in.  The team was divided into two, Stage set, props & decoration and Costuming.  Plenty of meetings took place, round table discussions on what was feasible and what we wanted to achieve. (The mood boards were touch stones in both areas).The look and feel of the production came together very quickly.  We determined that we would be as gender neutral as we could be, the production would be contemporary with hints to the Baroque era.  


A huge number of suits were procured from charity shops.  Some of which were perfect, some of which needed altering and some of which were dyed to fit into the colour palette.  We thought it was important that footwear be consistent so shoes were bought.  The cast were also provided with a branded Amadeus T-shirt.  Hair and make up were minimal and unfussy.  We were lucky enough to have someone who was vey keen to make period costumes, 3 were made for the front of house crew.  We also had branded black t-shirts made for the backstage and technical crews. Quite early in the design process we held a workshop for everyone involved, this was a very positive step, it afforded both the backstage crew and designers an opportunity to meet the cast and visa versa.  The costume designers came up with a set of questions which the cast (as their characters) answered.  This was very helpful for the later development on each characters costuming.  Brooches were commissioned and each character had their own hand made one, this was almost a logo, a reference to period costuming, and another excuse to widen the reach of people involved

I enjoyed this part of the process, my team were great, excited and committed.  It was great having the input from everyone involved and we worked very well together.  The group WhatsApp was essential in keeping everyone in the loop and to arrange meetings etc.  I think it was essential to invest in the shoes and having the t-shirts printed locally thus satisfying my wish to include people who otherwise would not have got involved. 

Set Design & Props

Initial meetings were held with the Stage designer and Director.  I was keen to not over influence the design of the set, felt it was important to let the creativity flow and trust that our touchstone words and mood boards would steer the process.  We wanted to shake things up a bit and to create a performance space that included the audience from the moment they entered.  The basic staging included a cat walk like walk way along the side of the hall.  This worked very well. The set decoration developed independently of the rest of the design and though the end result was superb and utterly right, the lack of communication from the set designers created a small speed bump.  The initial reveal was shocking and both I and the Director were concerned.  This concern was un-necessary, the design grew into a perfect back drop for the cast and the visual experience of the audience was break taking.  


In keeping with the contemporary atmosphere we were creating, a DJ was obviously the way to go.  I would liked to have seen more current and edgy music in the final production, but what we achieved was good enough.  The mix of Mozart’s music and some of our warm up theme songs worked brilliantly.


I was briefly involved in the lighting plan and would like to have been more involved simply for the learning opportunity.  Our original idea of having projections didn’t materialise quite as we had hoped.  What we did get was effective and a relatively easy operation,  it was one of the victims of time, we ran out of time to follow through with a longer and slicker programme.


I think PR is possibly the area that was our weakest.  We did have a press release that was published in several publications.  We had a gorgeous and eyecatching poster and we had two facebook pages to work with.  However this didn’t result in huge numbers of bums on seats.  How to get around this is a mystery?  Obviously we didn’t want to reveal too much which did limit our coverage in the area.  It is difficult to ascertain but it seems like the large number of people involved didn’t bring with them a big following.  In hindsight should efforts been made to shorten the play?  We did have to compete with “oh it is such a long play” rumours that spread quickly after the opening night.  Of course the unfortunate and tragic loss of a local fisherman had an enormous impact on us. 


We held a fundraising ‘pass the hat’ event as part of the monthly Scorioact & Co evenings.  We specifically raised funds for the purchase of shoes for the cast.  This was very effective and had the added bonus of promoting the play.  We considered holding a quiz but it was thought unnecessary.

Emperor Joseph

What a blast!  Thoroughly enjoyed the process of discovering my character.  Thoroughly enjoyed the workshops and the bonding that happened as a result. I loved having a theme tune, I thought that did a lot towards developing my character (despite not really finding the right one!)  As Their Majesty I launched an instagram account which I thoroughly enjoyed as another tool to discovering who my character was.

To End…

In hindsight I think the long break over the summer didn’t work.  I felt it put a huge pressure on all concerned to achieve the best we could.  But having said that it certainly focused us and meant the intensity of the process was exactly that, intense.  In a perfect world with a perfect budget I am not sure I would change much to what we created, possibly have the suits custom made and dyed.  Obviously with the aforementioned limitless budget, we could have paid for some of the skills that we were lacking in, projection, sound etc.  I look forward to our next project with excitement and am ready to tackle anything.

The Amadeus Project: Opening Night

Amadeus Opening Night

11th October, 2019

Finally, the moment had arrived

The Troupe.png
The Troupe –– Photo: Jack Zagar

There is something slightly surreal about opening night. All of the effort and the planning and it has come to pass. There is so much luck in the entire body of people making it to the opening night, safe and well and ready for the challenge. For me, there has been such mental energy expended that I often feel a little removed. I suppose, I am beginning the process of relaxing from the pressure. Most decisions are made.

There also remains a tricky time during the run of the show. Having put so much time and commitment into this production, we now have to accept the audience response. Every reaction is valid.

We breathe and make our offering.

Amadeus Programme

Before the show

We had a minute’s silence to remember the Healy family, whose son, Codie, was still missing in Dunmanus Bay. All of the cast and crew came on stage before we began and we invited the audience to join us in sending our thoughts to them all. In the midst of tragedy, life continues to move onwards. But, within our excitement, we had the family, and Codie, in our hearts.

The performance

Our work paid off and, from my point of view, we had a great performance of Amadeus.

On the night, having worried about the pace of Act 1, it turned out that the second Act was a little slow.  Pacing was a concern and required attention for the rest of the run. But the pace did improve.

OPening Night
Pacing notes –– just a little more work to do!


We had one call before night two where I went through each of the entrances and exists with the cast, and brought their cues forward by a substantial amount –– at least three or four lines –- finding that it was more important for them to be in position and ready on the stage than for the actors on stage to be waiting for their line with the resulting loss of flow and energy.

An Aside

Given the style of this play, with short scenes and constant changing sets and characters, it was really quite a challenge to present in this small local hall, with a small stage.

In fact, I wonder were we slightly bonkers to take it on!

There was a demand for the prompter but that lessened over time, and one night there was no prompting required at all!

Looking after the actors during the run

In a play of this length, two hours and fifty minutes most nights, stamina and focus was central to its success. To eat well, avoiding the lovely chocolate offerings brought surreptitiously by the cast (not good for the vocal chords) was my advice.

The Salieris were the only actors for whom this became a real concern. For the Younger, the sheer length and demands of the play on one actor is enormous. It is fantastically challenging though, on brain power –- to remember the volume of words –– on the physical body and the emotional demands.

There is humour and moments of playfulness in the play and our particular take on it lifted the visual aspects of the performance to lighten and support it –– by this I mean the colour of the costumes, the style of the props, and the heightened characters.

For the Elder, sitting continuously in one place for the length of the play was a huge challenge physically, and then maintaining focus and energy when one wasn’t speaking for long stretches was highly demanding emotionally.

What we got right was plenty of tea and other refreshments and there were biscuits and home-made cake! Bliss.

Amazing Moments from Amadeus: Jack Zagar

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Salieri Younger + MOZART DRESS.jpg


Theatre By the Weiden Dress.jpg

Amazing moments from Amadeus: Todd Bellici

Salieri shows Mozart God - Todd Bellici:Dress.jpg
Todd Dress 22.jpg
Todd Dress 20.jpg
Todd Dress 6.jpg
Todd Dress 19.jpg

The response

Within all the excitement and anticipation of any performance, there is also the concern about what the response of people will be. Obviously, the connection with the audience is crucial for a play.

It can be hard if the response is critical. How criticism or feedback is given is part of the experience of receiving it, as is the timing of it.

My view is that when an actor, in fact any artist, presents their work, at the end of a performance, there is an openness and vulnerability that must be handled with sensitivity and generosity.

That’s not to say that a person reviewing should lie, but I believe there is a moment when that reflection is better given than others.

We had two different responses to opening night. Positive and negative.


An email from Fran and Viv:

Karen! You did it!

The first thing that struck me was the pair of chattering class biddies OUTSIDE the venue whispering behind their fans as we climbed the church steps. Viv and I thought they looked great but when we moved to greet them they turned their backs to us and carried on their deep mutterings. Wow! We were no longer going to the local church hall Then the was the ferryman to pay – Florence – for our passage across the Rubicon between Schull and Venice.

Inside, the transformation of a utilitarian ubifunctional space onto a singular gob of something specifically designed for you-knew-not-what stopped you in your tracks. The seating arranged at an angle to the accepted focus of The Stage reinforcing the deflection of attention from the obvious – just as gossiping pair outside had done – to the curious.

I loved the strands of nylon wire running laser-like across the auditorium, picking up the lights and creating the effect of a false glass ceiling. The backdrop is a work of art of course and it came to life at moments throughout the play, particularly where Salieri the younger was describing his first hearing of Mozart’s music – the dark intro pierced by the searing oboe and gentler clarinet. It was all there on the backdrop. Amazing. Clair’s opening soliloquet was absolutely marvellous and paved the way for what was to come.

It was all marvellous. The Venticelli were great and rivetting. The leading roles were everyting one would expect – and more. And the removal of gender most effective.

Congratulations and thanks to all concerned.

Fran and Viv.


The negative feedback focused on the length of the play, sore bottoms from the seating and the second half being slow.

Three hours was a long time for some people to be in a play, but others didn’t notice the time going.

It was difficult to hold our nerve. In hindsight, I think there are people who liked it and people who didn’t. That’s it, that’s life. That it seemed to affect our audience numbers was a shame. Though, since finishing the run, we have met many who said, ‘Such a pity you’re not doing it again. I heard it was great.’

A review from a theatre critic offered following the performance on Saturday, 12th October, 2019

Pass the Baton, Mozart

Elizabeth Hilliard Selka

One of the props in a staging of Amadeus, the play currently running until Sunday in Schull’s parish hall, offers a surprising link between this show and the cult television series Game of Thrones. Conducting the premiere of his opera The Magic Flute, the play’s character Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart beats time with the traditional conductor’s baton – but not just any baton. This one has a unique performing history of its own. It was donated by Emmerdale actor Sion Tudor Owen to the recent silent auction raising funds for Fastnet Film Festival after he and fellow actor Bob Pugh, Craster in Game of Thrones, sailed into Schull to take part in the 2018 festival and had such a great time here that they wanted to give something back. The baton was bought by Julia Zagar, who plays outrageous Emperor Joseph as well as being the Schull production’s designer. ‘This conductor’s baton was used by Sion Tudor Owen when he played Mozart in one of the original productions of Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus in the UK way back in the 1980s,’ explains Julia. On its journey to West Cork, the baton was also used by Sion when acting in the film One Chance, to conduct comedian James Corden playing Paul Potts, heartwarming real-life opera star who beat the bullies to win the first ever series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2007.

Schull’s Amadeus is a production full of surprises and not to be missed. Director Karen Minihan turned disaster into triumph when, due to unforeseen circumstance, the lead parts of Mozart and his wife Constanza had to be recast barely a month before opening night. In a stroke of gender-blind genius, she cast Bridget Staunton as Mozart and gave the part of Constanza to Max Vearncombe, son of the late pop star Colin Vearncombe of Wonderful Life fame. Much comedy follows, as Max is much taller than Bridget and is bearded, but the pair’s outstanding performances are as thrilling and poignant as they are amusing in the plot’s developing tragedy. In another departure, the huge part of Salieri, villain of the piece, is played by two actors, Victor Hayes and Clair Lalor as the younger and older character. The production’s design too is bold—the action zips between 18th and 19th century Vienna but here all period costume is dispensed with in favour of contemporary trouser suits in witty ice-cream colours worn over a specially-designed production T-shirt. 

This ambitious and outstanding play is large-scale—a cast of 18 on stage, assisted by a huge team of committed producers, designers, makers, technicians, sponsors and many others who have been working for two years to make it happen—and is the joint vision of two collectives in Schull, PlayActing Theatre and Schull Drama Group, supported by Cork County Council. Buy your tickets on the door for the 8pm start this Friday 18th and Saturday 19th, with the final performance at 5pm on Sunday 20th October 2019.

A poem from Ann

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The performers loved this, it was read to them before the performance on the second night.

The Amadeus Project: Second Dress Rehearsal: Day 38

Second Dress Rehearsal: Day 38

9th October, 2019 

Unexpected happenings

There was a crisis in the area. A young fisherman, Cody Healy, from Toormore, Schull, took to the water in Dunmanus Bay in the early hours of Wednesday morning and by that evening, his family had called the Coastguard as he hadn’t retuned home. The community rallied around and there were searches and support networks organised immediately. There were two or three members of the Troupe with a connection with this young man’s family, but the tragedy hung over all of our preparations and decisions for the next days, until he was found and laid to rest.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Our final preparations

The lists are being completed. Additions are made daily … the final flurry of activity.

Second Dress Rehearsal

10th October, 2019

The projections have arrived on a card and are working with the computer and projector.

The excitement is palpable. Everyone arrives early.

We have some guests coming too, some people that I deliberately invited in order to create an audience and then some others who couldn’t make the play during its run.

Discussions before the performance

In the normal course of productions, all items would be completely dealt with by the Dress Rehearsal. There should be no confusion, everybody should be fully rehearsed and ready. The performance should start when planned, like a first night, with everyone in position and ready. No stops or starts, a complete run with any corrections to be made noted and dealt with later.

In our case (as with most amateur drama productions), we still have a few bits to sort out beforehand. It’s a delicate balance, not crowding everyone’s mind with information … Is it too soon before a performance to be directing? Time to  leave the actors alone?

Tonight there were still a few musical / actor cues to coalesce. And some final touches on the images of Goya and Annie Leibowitz that we were reproducing.

Seeking the perfect reproduction Dress.jpg
Seeking the perfect reproduction of the Goya image. (Photo Jack Zagar)

Other than that, everyone was ready and poised. A smooth-running, twenty-nine-person machine. Even the front of house team were dressed in their specially-made outfits and performing.

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Julian looking resplendent. (Photo: Todd Bellici)

A proper warm up

I was glad that this became an issue for other participants as well as me. I believe it’s crucial to find a way in to the atmosphere of the play and the particular character. In trying not to impose my views I let the warm-up drift sometimes.

In time we returned to the belief that it assisted most of the performers. From tonight on, we made sure that we started the warm-up early enough to spend time at it: strutting and parading on the set; hearing the music set the tone; absorbing the atmosphere created by the set decoration and the lighting; relating to the other characters towards the end of the session;  being playful with the text and practicing the dialogue.

Amadeus before an audience

The performance went well but slow. A lack of fluency with the lines kept the flow down. The shapes are holding up well … by this I mean the overall movement of the actors –– the physical flow –– and the various vignettes.

And the audience responded well. Though it was very late when we finished. Again, any notes I had were communicated in the email to the Troupe or directly the following day.

It is the flow of the play and the momentum of it, that will become the biggest conversation over the run. How to make it move more quickly. It was funny how it happened that on the night of the Dress Rehearsal, it was Act 1 that felt less rehearsed and needing attention. Later on, Act 1 became smooth and moved well and Act 2 slowed down!

I ended up being the prompter every night, though being used less and less each night (and one night not at all!).

Keeping the audience happy –– practical steps

Another issue that arose tonight was the comfort of the audience. We had opened the centre door of the hall as an entrance point to create extra acting space for the Troupe and to surprise also.

This resulted in a draught through from the open outside door. There was a curtain hung half way down the corridor leading from the outside door into the hall itself to ease the draught and one half of the outside door remained shut during the performance. This curtain also served to hide the actors from the audience as they waited for their cues to enter.

Heating the hall before performances and at half-time was crucial. But, in fact, we also ended up putting on the heaters during the performances int the lower half of the hall. This interfered with the lighting as they emit that strong red light that has given such an intensity to some of the photographs. But, audience comfort was a priority!

We also decided to bring cushions to the hall  in case some audience members had to use the hard wooden benches. In the end, all and sundry used the cushions. It was a nice addition to the decoration of the hall, in fact.

The photos

We were incredibly fortunate to have the time and expertise of two photographers, Jack Zagar and Todd Bellici, on the night of the Dress Rehearsal. As a result, we had amazing shots to use as publicity and as a record of our work.

Salieri  pleads - Todd Bellici:Dress.jpg
The Younger Salieri and Mozart (Photo: Todd Bellici)
Clair Dress Rehearsal.jpg
The Elder Salieri (Photo: Jack Zagar)
V1&V2 with Constanza - Todd Bellici:Dress.jpg
Constanza with Venticelli 1 & 2 (Photo: Todd Bellici)
DECAY Dress .jpg
The Troupe: Decay  (Photo: Jack Zagar)

Email to Amadeus Troupe on 11th October, 2019

Hey Amadeus Troupe,

well, it is here. And we are ready. The play has form and structure, visuals that are being lauded already and an energy and excitement that is palpable. The play is long, and the pace is pretty good. However, we might tighten up on uncertainties and cues and that will help the action.
Last night was great. Well done to everybody!!
Pausing a moment
With the tragic loss of Cody Healy in Dunmanus, there is a slightly surreal air in presenting this spectacle and excitement. Julia, Alyn and I have been monitoring the developments and wondering how best to respond. Our suggestion is that we hold a minute silence at the very beginning of the evening. I would introduce it and invite all of the cast on to the stage to participate. Lights would be low, we will have revealed you all but will have acknowledged the devastating circumstances for the Healy family and our community.
We will keep abreast of developments during the day, in case we need to reconsider, if Cody is found, for example.
Act 1
1 Please come at 6pm for little rehearsal bits. We must warm-up as the characters. It took a little while for everyone to settle last night. Of course, that is also because it was the first time in front of an audience. Warm-up at 6.30pm sharp.
2 There are moments when the energy / alertness dips in characters. Please be aware. I’ll mention to you individually also. Please remember that you are your character at all times, before you come on stage, during and as you leave.
3. VOCALS need to be stronger…radiating to the back of the room please. Especially those with lots of lines: Constanza, Valet, Cook, Salieri younger
4 First Venticelli + groups Scene needs a rehearsal and then it will be BRILLIANT!
5 Scene 5 – I’m trying to have cream al mascarpones for you Victor. I think you need 3 in all. And Constanza needs something. The small sweets are for the ‘Nipples of Venus’ Something else when Constanza searches and then the creme al mascarpone,with glass and small spoon. Note Jack/Winnie. 
6 Scene 5 Mozart, you need to fart louder! I didn’t hear any last night. I wonder if you were to grab Constanza’s hand and do it into it???
7 Scene 5 Constanza — when you are mocking someone, you can play this up much more.
Audiences so far are having no difficulty with the gender fluidity bit!
8 Scene 7 Mozart––when you ‘listen’ to the music of Salieri changing it, it’s a bit of a leap for the audience. So, let’s be absolutely clear and make the most of this piece. I’ll do this with you. I like the headphones for this Scene but we’ll get rid of them in the theatre. They can come back when you’re at home later on, trying to work.
9 Scene 8 Salieri meeting Constanza I’d like this scene to be a bit more flow and fluid. Will talk later.
10 Scene 8 Venticelli 1& 2, great but move please.  Careful of your cues, ‘catch the wave’ as it were. Scene 10 was very late. Don’t wait for music please.
11 Scene 10 Mozart and Constanza –– a bit angrier?/ Physical??
12 Scene 11 – Salieri / Constanza?? Did you do ‘clever as cutlets’ bit??
Elder Salieri, I’d like a little more reaction to the harassment scene.
13 Scene 12 –- Elder Salieri ‘Capisco. Now I know my fate.’ I think this is developing very nicely from previous moments but it could be bigger Clair. It’s a moment of extreme clarity. And mentions in the script of ‘mediocre’ are very important. You might capture them more, I think.
Was amazing.
14 Have chair on 5 minutes before Act 2 begins please Jack / Winnie.
15 Scene 1 I’d like this to be more edgy, Salieri and Constanza. Let’s see if we can do something with it later.
15  Scene 2 Salirei commiserating with Mozart, Venticelli groups please watch. When is this??? We’ll do quick run-through of scene that went awry last night.
16 Scene 6 as the Emperor, Orsini Rosenberg, von Strack, van Sweeten arrive at the theatre for rehearsal. All should be a little quieter with then text, as if in on the rehearsal and not wanting to interfere.
17 Scene 11 The Prater, Constanza and Mozart, come in bit earlier. Be on steps as Salieri saying his lines.
18 “It all began so well.” Mozart, you can slow this a teensy bit.
19. Final images are great, into Annie Leibowitz. You can all enjoy this and maybe start first to move back before turning to Salieri. It works when you are seated also. Don’t forget to eyeball the audience as you disintegrate.
That’s it. All bits and pieces. It’s running really well. Just the sheer enjoyment now.
Scene 5 was late starting. Can’t remember if I said this last night John.
P 39 Music from part with V1  & V 2 can continue on into Bonno’s a bit longer John, over Mozart’s text.
Scene 10 a bit late.
P 88 softer – mentioned last night
P122 Softer.–– mentioned last night
Page 24, not sure what was wrong Paul. Man note says, “lighting on stage”?? Maybe the spot is gone and I would have liked one.