[Editor's note: Please welcome Blackbird Theater's managing director, Greg Greene, to the Rabbit Room. Many of you may have met him at Hutchmoot 2012 where he led a session called "The Theology of Theater." Greg has become a good friend over the last couple of years and I'm always impressed with his level of theological insight into the plays that Blackbird Theater produces. Here he is with a bit of insight into his production of Amadeus. Specially-priced tickets to the show are still available through the Rabbit Room store. We hope to see you there.]
I’m sitting in the room with a dozen skilled and honest actors in a first rehearsal known as “table talk.” We discuss the play, its characters and meanings, read through a handful of scenes, and hear the director’s vision for the show we will create. The play is Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. You likely know the film—also scripted by Shaffer—and its anti-hero Antonio Salieri, the respected court composer of eighteenth century Vienna. Salieri is, by his own account, a righteous man: chaste, hard-working, striving to better the lot of his fellows. Above all, he wants to be a conduit of God through the pure, unparalleled transport of music. But that’s not all—he wants to be famous. “Not to deceive you,” he tells the audience, “I wanted to blaze, like a comet, across the firmament of Europe.”
Life for Salieri is rich with promise until Mozart arrives at Vienna’s royal court. Though certainly the more privileged and positioned of the two, when Salieri browses one of the younger composer’s scores, he realizes that he will ever be consigned to the shadow of Mozart, the purer and singularly transporting conduit of the divine. In Salieri’s envious eyes, Mozart is the elect—the chosen voice of God.
One of my actresses—a vivacious, intuitive Texan—says that her designer/musician husband is in constant turmoil over the disparity between his God-given artistic calling and his sense of achievement. Whatever measure of artistic success he’s expected by now, he is far from it. She asks him: And if you could achieve everything you dream of, would it be enough? He knows it wouldn’t be, and he doesn’t know what would.