Rehearsals: Day 31
29th September, 2019
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!
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?
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!
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.
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