Rehearsals Day 8
10th May, 2019
Casting is front and centre of our thoughts in the background organisation team.
But who will be here this evening? Messages have been sent from some cast members not able to make it tonight. It seems that I / we won’t be in a position to make final decisions after this evening. I will have to meet some actors separately.
In reading later in the rehearsal, we will focus on the minor roles –– Emperor Joseph, von Strack, van Swieten, Orsini Rosenberg, the members of the Court music and administrative departments –– and seeing their characters come to life.
The Group together
But first, I bring the focus back to the group work and the collective feeling.
Clair has hurt her leg and is moving with the help of crutches. She braved the evening and we found her a chair on which to sit, in the midst of the group. In fact, we all sat down to warm-up, using our chair–bound states as inspiration for our movement, following the actions of the actors in the circle, one after the other. Our Amadeus playlist of tunes inspiring our movements.
We also said hello to one another … shaking hands, greeting everyone. Julian who usually observes from a distance (sorting the heating, checking in in case of tasks) received a line of greeting all to himself!
I read the song lyrics for this song by Christine and the Queens from my phone and we sang along, with fun and funky moves in the shoulders and hands (we were still sitting in the chairs). I want to hear the voices singing now, have, in my mind, been waiting to hear them. And we heard them. Very cool.
A bit of talking
There was a bit of chat early on, unusually, before getting into the exercises. This evening, I didn’t want to interfere with the feeling that always builds up with the work by giving explanations mid-way into the warm up. So, the practical information was given early on: my plan for the evening, the auditions, the Film Festival next week using the hall so no rehearsal for us.
We spoke briefly about radiation. One cast member had mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she didn’t really understand what it was. I was explaining tonight that, in the Body Voice Imagination book by David Zinder, the suggestion is that the concept is probably impossible to explain; it is something that is felt or experienced by the actor, and becomes stronger with practice.
The fact that radiation is linked in practice with the instruction to lock eyes with your partner –– something that is unconventional human behaviour when interacting with people that you don’t know well –– is a challenge in the work and complicates this experiential learning. But, it is very powerful to observe and something that deepens with practice, I believe (and the book says!).
It is really interesting to hear the different experiences people have with these tasks, demanding different levels of bravery or determination that is utterly determined by their personality and life experiences. It is also good to remember to check in with the actors, because the sharing reassures and encourages them.
And, often, a different or unique perspective of an actor will challenge us to review our thinking or practice.
Plus, as we chatted we divulged the exciting news that Julia and I had met with a DJ who was game to join our project and provide music on decks. He’ll come see the rehearsal in two weeks. Plus, he is keen to become involved in the playful, improvising workshop element with the music.
AND through him, we will talk to musicians and technicians living locally who work with lighting for gigs, see if we can work with them for our show, combining traditional theatre lighting with something very funky –– fab!
I have lots of work to do analysing the play: the roles for the two Salieris –– how that will work practically with the text and the physical space; the layout of the set, what areas will represent different settings (eg Salieri’s sitting room, the Court).
So the week off of group rehearsal will be well spent on solitary tasks. I am hoping that the two Salieri roles will be cast and I will have a chance to work with them together in the meantime.
Walking with suit jacket
We can do the walks now with the suit jackets on from the start. Up to now, the actors have picked them up mid-way through the walking practice but their familiarity with the exercises means that they are now stepping into the walks with a different awareness and knowledge –– walking to find an awareness and focus, feeling the space, moving swiftly, shifting and changing direction, freezing, backwards.
Then testing the movement of the woman and the man in the suit –– playing with the feel of it.
When I ask the actors to take part in the exercises, I observe in order to manage the work –– to ensure that everyone is safe and engaged. Also to see what is created by the different participants; often it inspires me, as I have outlined in previous blogposts (for eg. my response to the Touch Awareness exercise On Day 7).
This exercise is different, for now this exploration is a personal journey (insofar as it can be when you are sharing a room with fourteen other adults) and I find myself averting my eyes so actors can work on their own for now, without comment or critique.
Tonight, as an extension of this exercise (I was back observing now), I asked the actors to imagine that they were the character Mozart, in various different circumstances: some joyful, some worrisome –– playing with status and the physical feeling in response to the instruction. We looked at Constanza in this way also, and Salieri.
Actors react differently to the instructions and I like that, they may be full of energy or much quieter than others around them.
Often I pull actors back from ‘acting’ too strongly. When they are ‘present’ they can do minimal work to convey an intention / meaning.
I’m back to radiation again! There is an element of trust required, that you are radiating sufficiently to connect with an audience.
And, of course, a Director to observe and comment and draw you out in whatever way is necessary!
We did some mirroring too, to practice the radiation and locking eyes. There were an odd number of actors so we had changing mirrors, one actor taking over from another in a pair.
I asked the actors to step backwards, mirroring from afar and practicing locking eyes from this distance.
We finished this exercise with an expression of love from a distance by one actor, received by the other actor and than returned.
This is a gorgeous exercise. It became slow and momentous, intimate and generous on the part of the actors.
As we are doing quite a lot of images in these workshops, I decided to do the sculpting sequence in GAMES FOR ACTORS AND NON-ACTORS by Augusto Boal. One actor, without words, sculpts another into a statue. I asked for the theme of ‘Divinity’, one of our words expressing the play for us. (See these words in The Amadeus Project: Day 2.)
One actor working with one other (except for one group of three) –– careful, gentle movement of the limbs and body sculpted into an expression of awe or wonder or supplication.
The extension of this exercise came a few minutes later when the sculptor was invited to continue sculpting but from a distance, finding a means of communicating their wishes to the statue without words. (The desire to speak here can become overwhelming!)
Finally, the sculptures are brought together, creating one large group ‘Divinity’ scuplture. As director, I allowed this to become a bit too frantic. All of the sculptors and statues moved forwards into the designated space together and it became a little busy. A quieter, approach, allowing for reflection on the image as it developed, might have served the exercise better.
It was enlightening though, to see the workmanlike slightly frantic atmosphere everyone brought to this section, in the small space inhabited by the sculpture, despite a quiet, intimate build-up.
The actors flipped around and did the exercise with the same instructions. Though the images were similar, each person brings a different quality to the statue. Very compelling.
I did a little of Boal’s gestural movement here too, asking the statues to move slightly, bringing another quality to the piece.
Characters and text
We were looking at von Strack, van Swieten, Orsini Rosenberg and Emperor Joseph; smaller roles that will enrich the play. These are the important men in the Court and wield power that impacts on the others around them, some are members of the Masons.
We read the text with these characters prioritised, the audience watching them. Mozart, Salieri and the Venticelli featured in the text too but we read these roles from the audience only.
The first aim: to hear these characters in order to get a sense of the different personalities and see them embodied by actors. In reality, these roles will be fun parts but don’t have any development within the play so actors playing them will probably be part of the Venticelli also.
The second aim: to give everyone an opportunity to read and feel that they had the chance to audition.
It is time to cast. I will contact the people who were missing tonight, to see what their difficulty is in being at the rehearsal. But, we need to get on with apportioning the roles.
This photo of a sculpture was created for the blog at the end of the evening. The dark suit jackets bring a uniformity to the image and to the workshops that I like. And the ‘Fáilte go Scoil Mhuire’ adds perfectly to the image!