Rehearsal: Day 34
5th October, 2019
Bringing Act 2 on
Two of the cast members are away this weekend. The acting Troupe are called for rehearsal after 4pm. We will go through Act 2 only. My original plan was to run through the entire play but it became apparent that we still needed to do manageable blocks; consolidate the learning.
What has become necessary now is to run the Scenes, one after another, so actors become familiar with the sequence. For many actors, the logical flow of the story and their part in it is not obvious, especially actors who don’t like or manage to read through the script. For others who have read the play a number of times, this bit is easier.
How people learn and absorb information is to the fore in this part of the work; how they remember body movements, places, positioning. It’s fascinating.
As a Director, I need to be aware of actors’ demands and needs, especially in an amateur dramatic context. If I am asking them to take risks, be open and take chances, then I have to make the process as comfortable and safe as possible.
How demanding is this? It seemed to me that actors might be more aware themselves –- taking notes on their scripts, for example. Sometimes, I was remembering for most of the eighteen people, when only two or three had taken notes.
Firstly on Saturday, I had to go through the lighting plan scene by scene with Paul, who is setting the lights, and Edmund who is programming the computer. Both have completely saved the day where lighting is concerned.
It is a long process, plotting each cue, searching for the right tone, the right effect of lighting. It is exciting too to see what the potential for the performance is with the lights working on the set. At times, the way light picks up a swathe of paint on the set is magnificent.
I probably would not have attended this setting up if I weren’t needed. The week before I had spent time plotting the lights and noting on a spreadsheet, but the rushed nature of sorting the lighting has meant that the lighting men haven’t been able to use this record.
My intimate knowledge of the play was essential to the process as we worked on, it page by page. But I’m glad I was there, to see the possibilities unfold is wonderful.
We worked until the others arrived for rehearsal.
This is a list written on a large sheet. I have noted all of the scenes I need to return to. Most of those are with Constanze. We’ve read them but bringing them on to the stage is a priority.
This list is available for anyone to write on, a reminder to me of others concerns. It is placed nearby for everyone to see.
The first on the list are the backstage crew. We finished going through the setting requirements. Little by little, all the props are in place and these too, are noted and places found for them in the props area. Because of their familiarity with the play, work with Jack and Winnie is easy. They are prepared and organised, with notes made –– often their questions anticipate ahead.
We put the markers on the stage for the furniture, it is then colour-coded. Photographs are taken of the positions and, later on, Jack and Winnie have a folder with each change noted and photographs of the stage arrangements.
We ran through the entire of Act 2. These are long rehearsals and everybody needs to be here all the time. There is plenty chance for people to chat and have tea together, except for the Salieris, the lighting and sound men and me. The atmosphere is building up really nicely.
Apart from the scenes I have to do for the first time over the coming week, my notes are now scribbled down. The flow of the entire Act is the important requirement.
No longer am I doing individual scenes, or going back over work, rather we are ploughing on and I give notes afterwards. In the past, this would have been done at the end of rehearsal, but our sessions are too long and to ask people to stay for another half hour of notes is too much. So, I give feedback constantly. If an actor brings up an issue there and then, I address it.
My notes are in an old copybook or scrap paper. Sometimes I can’t even read them!
An insight into the development of a role
Unfortunately, for the elder Salieri, there is some of the work that we haven’t been able to focus on. Until the bits that we have never done are completed with the replacement actors, I can’t focus on this actor. And until there is a real sense of flow in the text for the younger Salieri, I find it impossible to judge when the two Salieirs will connect.
We have worked on this together, the Salieris and I, and I have made notes of the intense emotional statements where the two should combine, in my opinion. But there is opportunity for more links and that is loose and undecided at the moment. Makes it difficult for Clair, in particular.
It may have been at this point that I realised that, rather than splitting this role in two, I made two enormous roles for the two actors, who both had to rise to embrace the enormity of the challenge.