This post has disappeared!! I haven’t given up hope that I can recover it from somewhere in the bowels of my computer or that cloud in the sky … but I may have to start again!
6th April, 2019
No, it can’t be recovered so … one thought at a a time … I will recreate the remembrances of the evening; the first time that I decided to write straight onto the commuter rather than journalling the notes.
Rehearsals: Day 2
25th March, 2019
The hall was warm this evening. And eighteen actors turned up, no designers this time, just those interested in the performance; the majority were new faces.
Julia and met during the week to discuss the words that we believed were behind our intentions in presenting the play. Just like the mood boards, this teasing apart of the important words is like a mission statement, reverted to regularly and especially if there is a moment of uncertainty or indecision at a later stage.
Does this colour, or that emotion or a particular move tie in with the words. Or would something else be more appropriate?
Have we addressed all of the words and intentions that we wish to catch?
With the Design team meeting and relying on these words and the rehearsals with the actors progressing steadily, it seemed crucial that we tied them down.
For a number of weeks we had been playing with words, taking notes here and there, sending text messages if an idea occurred to either of us.
The balance of these words was paramount for me. The play could be really dark. None of the characters are entirely appealing so, to make them recognisable and identifiable to our society, our community, in 2019, is vitally important.
And that comes through the balance between lightness and darkness –– hence, the sort of central line with words on either side.
For comparison purposes, I am posting a photo of Julia’s beautiful version of this mind map!
I set aims each week … to keep me focused and my intention clear. Usually there are three main aims with other tangential thoughts appearing.
I mentioned to the actors what those aims were, so they too could be aware of the intention.
Walks and mirrors
We began with walking around the space, loosely, with ease; me coaching to keep the eyes level, softly focused, working in this large group but alone. Awareness –– of the space / room and the other actors –– sensitivity to others and oneself in the demands of any exercise are all brought to this simple act of walking.
I then realized that I had forgotten to do a warm-up so I brought the group to standing and to quickly concentrate on their bodies, waking them up gently: from the feet to the head and neck.
Just before the walking began again, I asked the actors, as an act of imagination, to bring awareness to the ball of energy, moving it through the three different centre as in Day 1 and then bringing to the belly centre. I asked everyone to become attuned to this energy, and when the energy was right, to follow that momentum to a walk, then reducing the movement to a standstill. And repeated.
We played with increasing the intensity of this exercise, moving quickly through the space –– managing and controlling the energy, freezing, changing direction.
Then, as with magnets, being attracted to the others as they passed, then repelled.
When the exercise was settled in, I asked the actors to begin working with the person beside them in the mirror exercise, leading and following as we had done before … then changing over; developing into a fluid exchange between both participants. Then I asked the pairs to step apart from each other if they were standing reasonably close to one another or close up if far apart –– and to become aware of the difference in the connection between them. The side-coaching: to bring awareness of the level of radiation required between them to sustain a connection.
I started moving the pairs so that the entire group was standing in a circle. This took a while, given the size of the group, but it was really interesting how locked in people were to the exercise.
Later, in the workshop, I mentioned about trying to hold back from making noises or laughs during the work. The natural response of people is to please others and, in a process of exploration like this, the neutral position is important.
I was aware of people’s nervousness coming through in this mirror exercise, through laughter and noisy effort.
I loved seeing the actors’ responses in this exercise: people coming gradually to the intensity of the work; having to work over others when I moved them.
We gathered in a circle for feedback and the response was lovely –– how the exercise demanded vulnerability; how one pair had a sense of being just one as they led and followed one another; how the intensity made you seek a response from the other that didn’t reflect black. The atmosphere was quiet and the energy low at the end, though it felt special to me.
I felt that the energy needed to rise a little, so I broke the group of actors into threes and asked them to create images together. Person 1 makes a shape, person 2 observes this shape and follows into the image, then person 3, having observed the other 2 actors, joins the image to create one group image.
There was no instruction regarding theme or message, simply a movement and a response, giving and receiving and observing.
Being observed is a crucial part of this exercise … being seen by others … the quintessence of performance, but which can be tricky for some people and can take getting used to and practice.
Though this may seem like stating the obvious.
Shortly after the image settles, person 1 leaves the group, and, seeing the image now remaining, joins again in a different place, followed by person 2 and 3.
The pace of movement also increases little by little, so there is a greater flow of the bodies and minds … with no space for thinking or planning; it becomes an instinctive response to the other actors.
When this part had run its course, I invited the actors to work in a similar way, but this time to use the theme of destruction or decay. Soon after, in order to balance the intentions, I asked the actors to create an image of beauty and then to shift from that to decay.
This movement from one image to the next was really powerful … and the image of decay was phenomenal. Bodies arched or twisted in awkward shapes; their faces distorted and pained.
We had been joined by a number of the design team who had started their work early in the Old Bank House in order to come down to us and join in with the workshop or observe our developments. They became very excited by what they were seeing. I was very excited by what I was seeing! This work will definitely be used in the final production.
It seemed to me that, for many in the group, creating a pose of beauty was more difficult than creating that of decay. It is somehow easier to believe in the negative, harder to believe that we, as ordinary people, are beautiful.
Note to Self
Read the piece on beauty in the Chekhov book to the actors … where the instruction is to bring beauty to everything that you do on stage and in rehearsal.
Hence all of the drama work is beautiful … to my mind, in the sense of appreciating the work that our bodies can do.
Text work and finishing up
Some of the actors read the text, revealing more about the characters. Mozart scatological tendencies with his wife; further exploration of Salieri’s text by two readers –– male and female.
And we finished, coming together within the circle, raising hands towards the ceiling, slowly, finally releasing the energy to the sky but pausing there before letting go with fluttering hands …
Email to the Amadeus Troupe: 26th March, 2019