Second Dress Rehearsal: Day 38
9th October, 2019
There was a crisis in the area. A young fisherman, Cody Healy, from Toormore, Schull, took to the water in Dunmanus Bay in the early hours of Wednesday morning and by that evening, his family had called the Coastguard as he hadn’t retuned home. The community rallied around and there were searches and support networks organised immediately. There were two or three members of the Troupe with a connection with this young man’s family, but the tragedy hung over all of our preparations and decisions for the next days, until he was found and laid to rest.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Our final preparations
The lists are being completed. Additions are made daily … the final flurry of activity.
Second Dress Rehearsal
10th October, 2019
The projections have arrived on a card and are working with the computer and projector.
The excitement is palpable. Everyone arrives early.
We have some guests coming too, some people that I deliberately invited in order to create an audience and then some others who couldn’t make the play during its run.
Discussions before the performance
In the normal course of productions, all items would be completely dealt with by the Dress Rehearsal. There should be no confusion, everybody should be fully rehearsed and ready. The performance should start when planned, like a first night, with everyone in position and ready. No stops or starts, a complete run with any corrections to be made noted and dealt with later.
In our case (as with most amateur drama productions), we still have a few bits to sort out beforehand. It’s a delicate balance, not crowding everyone’s mind with information … Is it too soon before a performance to be directing? Time to leave the actors alone?
Tonight there were still a few musical / actor cues to coalesce. And some final touches on the images of Goya and Annie Leibowitz that we were reproducing.
Other than that, everyone was ready and poised. A smooth-running, twenty-nine-person machine. Even the front of house team were dressed in their specially-made outfits and performing.
A proper warm up
I was glad that this became an issue for other participants as well as me. I believe it’s crucial to find a way in to the atmosphere of the play and the particular character. In trying not to impose my views I let the warm-up drift sometimes.
In time we returned to the belief that it assisted most of the performers. From tonight on, we made sure that we started the warm-up early enough to spend time at it: strutting and parading on the set; hearing the music set the tone; absorbing the atmosphere created by the set decoration and the lighting; relating to the other characters towards the end of the session; being playful with the text and practicing the dialogue.
Amadeus before an audience
The performance went well but slow. A lack of fluency with the lines kept the flow down. The shapes are holding up well … by this I mean the overall movement of the actors –– the physical flow –– and the various vignettes.
And the audience responded well. Though it was very late when we finished. Again, any notes I had were communicated in the email to the Troupe or directly the following day.
It is the flow of the play and the momentum of it, that will become the biggest conversation over the run. How to make it move more quickly. It was funny how it happened that on the night of the Dress Rehearsal, it was Act 1 that felt less rehearsed and needing attention. Later on, Act 1 became smooth and moved well and Act 2 slowed down!
I ended up being the prompter every night, though being used less and less each night (and one night not at all!).
Keeping the audience happy –– practical steps
Another issue that arose tonight was the comfort of the audience. We had opened the centre door of the hall as an entrance point to create extra acting space for the Troupe and to surprise also.
This resulted in a draught through from the open outside door. There was a curtain hung half way down the corridor leading from the outside door into the hall itself to ease the draught and one half of the outside door remained shut during the performance. This curtain also served to hide the actors from the audience as they waited for their cues to enter.
Heating the hall before performances and at half-time was crucial. But, in fact, we also ended up putting on the heaters during the performances int the lower half of the hall. This interfered with the lighting as they emit that strong red light that has given such an intensity to some of the photographs. But, audience comfort was a priority!
We also decided to bring cushions to the hall in case some audience members had to use the hard wooden benches. In the end, all and sundry used the cushions. It was a nice addition to the decoration of the hall, in fact.
We were incredibly fortunate to have the time and expertise of two photographers, Jack Zagar and Todd Bellici, on the night of the Dress Rehearsal. As a result, we had amazing shots to use as publicity and as a record of our work.
Email to Amadeus Troupe on 11th October, 2019
Hey Amadeus Troupe,