Rehearsal: Day 37

8th October, 2019

D-Day minus 4. Just four days to sort out the remaining matters. There are still production meetings to be had and preparation for the evening’s gathering.

At the end of the previous night’s rehearsal, I had asked the question: Which was more important, a practice of the lines or a rest?

Some of the actors chose to meet and rehearse –– just a shorter gathering with a few people to iron out small issues and repeat those elusive lines. The others would rest before the hectic schedule of the latter part of the week.

Meeting with the Salieris, Mozart, Constanze, V1 & V2

We hadn’t yet properly finalised Scene 10, Act 1, between the Venticelli and Constanze. There had been brief discussions about the energy of the vignette and the tension between the characters, as the Venticelli endeavour to get at Constanze’s calves to measure! But this was the first proper opportunity to have a run-through with some time and space to find the right approach.

All of these little scenes that pepper the play add to the flavour and energy of the work. The youth and playfulness of the actor playing Constanze brings a lovely contrast to the rest of the cast and particularly the heavier text and themes of the Salieris.

The Venticelli also ran through all of their entrances and exits for the scenes in Act 1. Often they lead their respective groups on stage and so, for them to be confident with their appearances is crucial. Tessa had organised a written list of every movement and every scene. Really good work and important in the overall running of the play.

Mozart and Constanze

Every opportunity we had we returned to their relationship, it developed and changed right through these final rehearsals and on into the performances. It became more energetic and assertive, more aggressive at times, more physical, as the actors became familiar with each other and were comfortable being playful together.

Both were very able to improvise and change, happy to use the stage, the set, the windows, the floor, each other –– even the beard on Constanze was tugged for effect!.

The Salieris

There were a few Salieri sections of the play that were continuously left aside, for the sake of other actors needing attention and just because the roles were so huge. This was an issue for all three of us. I had a note of the various sections that we needed to get to, if we could find the time.

What was really interesting tonight though, right at the end, almost as we were leaving, we went though the last Monologue for the elder Salieri and spent time on the understanding of it. He worked through his text sitting opposite the younger Salieri.

By this stage in the play when being performed live, three hours has nearly passed, so the actor has to raise herself in energy and intensity to perform.

This rehearsal gave us a lovely insight into that last piece –– when Salieri encapsulates in words his misery and shame, to be only mediocre in music despite all his deals with God and his hard work.

… a surprise …

The most interesting bit for me was that I hadn’t realised until that moment that we needed to work on it so closely. Having that last bit of space to consider it made an enormous difference.

… a continuing issue …

A second issue arose in the continuing Salieri work: having divided the main role, until we were all absolutely sure –– should I say, until I was absolutely sure –- how the role of the younger Salieri was coming across and showing itself, it was impossible to know how much or how little the elder Salieri would contribute to the main body of the play.

This had been a constant conversation between the three of us, from the outset of the rehearsals. At the beginning, we could see potential for many options, it was a lovely conversation, full of potential.

As time moved on, it became more tricky. Lack of clarity caused concern and confusion for the actors, in my view. We tried one way and another. And often I would hold off on making decisions on various sections. Sometimes it was difficult avoiding a categorical answer. I knew this was causing anxiety for the actors but I believed that I had no choice.

In the way this play was developing, the teasing out of the shape of it and the arc of the emotional work of the actors as Salieri was an essential part of the process. I believed that any final decision could only be made when the time was right.

An Aside

Of course, now I can be absolutely confident that this process that we followed will work, and did work.

From now on I can pass that level of confidence to the actor with this knowledge. But in this process, I think it was difficult for the actors to trust this way of approaching a script.

Part of that difficulty was down to the personalities of the actors, what made them comfortable in rehearsals. For the elder Salieri in particular, this actor had to wait for a long time before certain concepts or ideas became clear in the work and I could guide her in the secure knowledge that this way of working would yield results.

The projections

In discussion with Julia and Deirdre following the Dress Rehearsal, I had said to them that the projections had to remain. So, I prepared a short list of images for Colm who had agreed to put them into a video for us.

Having passed images around in earlier weeks, for inspiration purposes, we stripped everything away and came up with a 90-second video, that we could then repeat if necessary.

A result.

Email to the Amadeus Troupe on 9th October, 2019

Hey Amadeus Troupe,

Can’t quite believe I’m writing that the dress rehearsal is tomorrow night! Very exciting!
Dress Rehearsal:       Hall open from 5ish.
                                   Make-up  and costumes will be available from 6pm
                                   Latest time for cast to arrive 6.20pm please
                                   Warm-up 6.40pm followed by quick Goya Image and Annie Leibowitz
It will be the first time many of the supporting team will see the play and their work and there will be extra bodies also –– just to warn you there will be an audience. So, the auditorium will not be available from 7.15pm. My plan is to begin the dress rehearsal at 7. 30pm.
It is getting very busy with all the cast in the one space. We will work at the ‘feng shui’, to make the best use of the room. During the play we will put the Burco boiler in this room also. Because the kitchen has become part of the backstage area, access will be stopped during the play. Instead it will be dark and a ‘quiet room’ for anyone wishing for some quieter space. I think you could have an individual torch here if you wanted to read, but not a lamp or light.
Just a gentle reminder, from now on, as stage manager, Jack Harrington becomes the ‘King’ as in the card status game. ‘Winnie’ the Queen. Whatever they say goes.
Clean-up –– It seems to me that this is happening organically. Let’s keep an eye out that this is shared. If someone could please take over the task of ensuring there are supplies of tea etc, I’d be grateful. Been slipping up on that job!
First Principles
I’ve been thinking about the warm-up and prep for the plays. I think a short one, concentrating on the ‘first principles’ is the way to go: that’s centering, moving using the ‘ball of energy’, radiating, alertness (bringing with it the magnetic ‘bounce’, and the ‘elastic band’ connections). When you feel the butterflies or a little confused, I think these will help return you to the enjoyment of the work and settle you into the fantastic characters you have created. There are so many beautiful moments, images which you are making. I want these to be relished by everyone –– within and looking on!
For those more experienced in this playacting lark, please keep an eye out for the people new to the game. I’m mostly saying this as a reminder to myself to check in on you –– the atmosphere has been really and beautifully supportive so far.
Opening Night
I’d love a good crowd to support us on Friday night. If any of your family or friends might be encouraged please do so. Keep sharing the social media posts also. Julia, Deirdre and I are cracking them out.
Julia may have instructions for make-up so keep an eye out for updates please.
Karen xx