Peter Shaffer:Amadeus: Peter Hall, director


In answer to your question about Peter Hall’s
contribution, which was massive in all directions—it looked wonderfully elegant, and he presided
brilliantly over the whole evening, but in Washington he supported this terrific work
of refining and refining and approaching the climax of the play by brilliantly, or brilliantly
staging all the versions that I did, all five or six, but particularly the last one when
he moved in and staged the eating of the manuscript brilliantly, and the tearing off of the mask,
not as a bad director would have done it, from the front, but from the back of lifting
it up from behind with this man sitting there, chewing the “Kyrie” in his mouth. I mean,
it was an extraordinary image, and Peter can be relied upon to find a great image, many
times, and he did, in that. He had many striking images. I loved all the projections in it,
the most beautiful projections of the Prata(?) and the Masonic Lodge–just an emblem hung
above the stage. It all looked so beautiful. I loved the idea of an ice-blue plastic set,
but it was plastic that just shone so you could see the reflections of the actors, those
gilded encrusted courtiers moving about underneath, you saw their reflections underneath like
figures in a great frozen pond. It was marvelous. I loved it. I loved the look of it, I loved
the fact that a candle was lit at the very beginning of the play and burnt all evening
on the clavier, the instrument, in the corner, just guttering away during the death of Mozart,
just going out at the end of that, and then in the ensuing black mood and black light
of the play, Salieri coming forward and saying “I was born a pair of ears, and nothing
else,” starting on the end of the play in that atmosphere of ruin, gutted candles, and
apparent oblivion for Mozart, but then the music of Mozart’s really conquering at the
end. You ended with the last four chords of the Masonic funeral music, and Peter saw very
clearly the same vision and physical action and made it work. He’s the most patient
and the most admirable, and imaginative, and calm of directors. He’s not, I’m sure,
calm inside. I’m sure he’s a furnace of creativity, but he has, in his long and creative
life, discovered the most wonderful calm in a rehearsal situation

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