Rehearsal: Day 22
8th September, 2019
Salieri (the younger), Constanze, Mozart and the Prompter
A quieter day. We have had a setback. Our Mozart, who has explored and played along with us for the past six months has had to back out of the production.
The actor cast in the role of van Strack has had to back out also. Van Strack is a smaller role and the actor has missed a good few rehearsals, unavoidably.
But, with Mozart, the play as it will be performed, has developed because of his contribution, along with the other members of the Troupe who have been involved consistently.
So, it was a day to regroup and to think.
I had already changed the rehearsal to be smaller, due to the unavailability of some actors, it was just Salieri the younger, Constanze and two of the backstage crew.
Julian, the Secretary of Schull Drama Group, has been a constant support from the beginning: checking in, being part of the group, offering help, giving feedback.
Jack is the stage Manager. He has been involved in many SDG offerings in this role and he is amazing –– thorough, diligent, unobtrusive, efficient and utterly polite.
Today, they were even more valuable, Julian as a stand-in and Jack as a prompter.
The play will be fine.
We played around with the actor playing Constanze, Bridge, reading Mozart’s lines, and Julian reading Constanze’s. Perhaps it was because of this that I had the thought that a bearded Constanze would be good … male or female!
We had tea and resolved that there would be no panic!
Rehearsal: Day 23
9th September, 2019
Venticello 2, and the Venticelli Groups 1 & 2 (including the Valet and the Cook)
Some of the cast were newly back tonight and some were newly missing, so we are still making do … and mostly we were repeating the bits we had done already. There was only one new scene for the groups to manage, all the others we had looked at before.
At the beginning, we gathered together to check-in following the recent developments with the two cast members dropping out and then, to make the plan for the evening.
The actors went through Scene 1 carefully to bring those newly back uptodate on lines and the positionings.
Warm-up with the DJ
At 8pm, John, our DJ, arrived to observe the rehearsal process. I had held off the warm-up so that he could be there to see how it presented, developed, evolved, with the music central to that work: reminding everyone of our processes to date.
I was bringing those who needed it back to the steps we used to create their characters –– and those who are utterly with it had a chance to explore even further.
We used the text from Scene 1 when the atmosphere had built up amongst the actors.
Then a song from the Opera Singer and dance / body movement from the Dancer, to further reveal our ideas to the DJ, the Stage Manager and the Front of House Person, as they observed.
Then on to Scene 1: walking through, creating the atmosphere, recapping so that everyone understands what we are conveying.
We created the Goya image for the first time since we played with it in the early rehearsals (The Amadeus Project: Day 3), now peopled with the Venticelli and their Groups –– as the image will be used in the performances.
Finally, a last go through on the floor of the hall … always trying to reach an intensity in the rehearsal and clarity in the intentions of the actors that will carry through to the stage.
With the shifting energy that happens because of some participants non-availability on any given night, this aim is a challenge, and can’t be tied down until all the actors will be present …
Here’s where trust comes in … and deep breathing!
Scenes 3, 6 and 8
We had a brief look at Scenes 3 and 8 –– some of the Venticelli groups are observers here. I had to make decisions whether they are necessary to these scenes or not, and I like that constant connection between the lowly characters and the higher status Venticelli.
After all, they are all interconnected, each depending on the other.
It’s possibly my favorite vignette –– all the characters in the two Venticelli groups are present and the fun they have when delivering the gossip to Salieri is brilliant. (They received a round of applause from the onlookers at the end tonight!)
Why does Shaffer’s writing work so well? Why is it so funny?
The topics are tragic, there is a sense of doom from the beginning, a dystopian society; but the potential to cope is offered through the humour and great characters.
Shaffer writes characters that are clear and quirky and then he allows space and movement in his timing of words and lines.
Is that it?
Is it the juxtaposition of sheer beauty (words / music ) with these darker themes?
Rehearsal: Day 24
11th September, 2019
Salieris, van Swieten,,von Strack, Orsini Rosenberg
A full complement of the Court, great to have the role of van Swieten filled by Len; with massive speakers giving us sound for our warm-up.
One new person joining the scene and embodying a character makes an enormous difference; the moods shifts ever so slightly; there is a difference in older allegiances and new allegiances become apparent, or more possible, because there is an extra person –– German vs Italian influences, for example; nuances in lines become clearer.
There was much parading breezily through the hall.
Our warm-up was longer to include the new actor, allowing the other characters a moment to use their lines, then to explain their position in the Court; then to indicate what type of person van Swieten himself was, from their interpretation of the scenes as they have worked on them.
This would be unusual for me, to have other actors commenting on another early on in the actor’s exploration of a character.
But, as time is of the essence, I have to take disliked short-cuts.
This improvisational work, where you can see the energy between the cast as they face each other with little movement, is always great to go back to. Unfortunately, there is no lingering like this any more.
While we have seen all of these characters in the play before now, this is our first proper meeting with them. The nuanced relationships are evident immediately.
Goya Image in Scene 3
After the placing in the set, we created the Goya image, putting these ‘court’ characters them into the scene as they will be with the other actors.
Getting them all on and off the stage efficiently will be a challenge but what an image it will be … as they all whisper ‘Salieri, Salieri’.
‘Mozart is here.’ We’ve done this scene a few times, so the work really was on making van Swieten familiar with it … he was jumping in at the deep end!
Just the beginning of this scene, set in the Theatre … the characters across the stage as their status demands.
Scenes 11 & 12
When the Court characters had gone, the Salieris remained behind to do a little more rehearsing. As the time gets late, my intention is always to be easy and gentle.
Often this doesn’t work, despite myself, I feel the intensity build and we are carried away with deep feelings.
Rehearsing with intense feeling is not very good for a night’s sleep … Clair and I were trading stories on sleeplessness the following morning!
The learning being … to wind down together after the rehearsal, even for just a moment. So that we can leave the energy and work in that rehearsal room.
We experimented a little with the interaction between the two Salieris. There are points when the one who is speaking might be joined by the other, in the intense moments; sharing the lines, improvising as the emotion develops and the understanding of the implications of the story are revealed to the audience.
Playing on this worked really well tonight, using the text and the physicality, and built to Scene 12 where Salieri revokes his contract with God to create music for His glorification, and instead vows to be his Nemico Eterno.
Powerful … poor old Salieri, on his path to self-destruction.
Email to the Salieri Troupe: 10th September, 2019
thanks to everyone who made the last few rehearsals so lovely. The organisation is tricky with the change in personnel…I have no doubt about the play itself and how it’s coming along with all the work that is being done from an acting perspective and behind the scenes.
10th September, 2019
16th Sep (Mon) V 1 & 2, Troupe, Salieiris Scene 2, 4, 10
18th Sep (Wed) Salieiri, Mozart, Van Swieten, Von Strack, Orsini Rosenberg, Scene 4, 5 6, 7
22nd Sep (Sun) Constanze, Salieri, Mozart Scene 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13
23rd Sep (Mon) V1 & V2, Troupe, Salieiris Scene 8, 9, 10, 13
25th Sep (Wed) Constanze, Salieris
29th Sep (Sun) Everyone Act 2
30th Sep (Mon) Everyone Act 1
2nd Oct (Wed) Everyone Act 2
4th Oct (Sat) Everyone Run-through
5th Oct (Sun) Everyone Technical and run-through
6th Oct (Mon) Everyone Run through with costumes (Dress? TBC)
8th Oct (Wed) or 9th Oct (Thurs) Everyone Dress rehearsal
15th September, 2019