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!.
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.
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.
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.
Email to the Amadeus Troupe on 9th October, 2019
Hey Amadeus Troupe,