The Wimbledon Studio Theatre
28th March - 1st April 1995
Salieri is quite content in his job as royal composer until the
young upstart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart appears to upset the applecart.
And exactly how many is 'too many notes' ?
One of the foremost dramatists of our time, Peter Shaffer was born in Liverpool and educated at St. Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He has had several varied jobs before earning fame as a playwright - working in the coalmines during the second world war, in the acquisitions department of the New York Public Library and for the London music publishing firm of Boosey and Hawkes.
His first big success came in 1958 with Five Finger Exercise. The play ran for nearly two years at the Comedy Theatre in London, and was subsequently presented, with great acclaim, in New York City. Other Shaffer successes include The Private Ear: The Public Eye (which like Lettuce and Lovage starred Maggie Smith and played at the Globe Theatre); The Royal Hunt of the Sun, an epic drama concerning the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire; the hilarious farce, Black Comedy; The Battle of Shrivings; Equus, a sensational triumph in London and in New York, where it received the 1975 Tony Award for Best Play of the year; and Amadeus, which also won the same prize, as well as the 1979 Evening Standard Drama Award, the Plays and Players Award, and the London Theatre Critics' Award. Both these last mentioned plays boast the rare distinction of having run for over a thousand performances on Broadway and in 1984 the film of Amadeus won the Academy Award for both script and picture. His more recent plays are Yonadab and Lettuce and Lovage which received the Evening Standard Drama Award for the best comedy of 1988. Peter Shaffer was awarded the CBE in the 1987 Birthday Honours List.
What is genius? Is it something wrought with time? A talent developed over the years? Or is it a divine gift granted to us humble mortals? The first serious attempt to look into this question was made by the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in his dramatic poemMozart and Salieri. One hundred and fifty years later Peter Shaffer takes up this problematic question again, using Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as the historical protagonists of the play Amadeus.
Salieri represents the old school of thought. He belongs to the Ancien Regime philosophy that sees society organised as a pyramid with God and king at the apex and serfs at the base. It is a divinely ordered society with everyone allotted a specific role. He witnesses the upheaval of the system. Then Enlightenment and Revolution enter western history to transform the world completely. Revolution not just in the streets, but in intellectual and artistic life. Mozart is a revolutionary and a genius. He does not fit the scheme of things. Why does God not grant the gift of genius and creativity to someone who has consecrated his life to his art? Perhaps, God does not meddle in the everyday running of the universe? Perhaps God has forsaken Man and Church?
A play like Amadeus opens many cans of philosophical worms. Only a writer as skilled as Peter Shaffer can explore this effectively. So how can a production do justice to a problem of that scope? The format chosen is that of a performance given by street actors at the time of Salieri's death. We have tried to give the story an everyday relevance, looking at the set question through a contemporary view. I am a firm believer in spending millions on sets or absolutely nothing. The latter was chosen here. There is no compromise in stage production - the music, words and hard work of the actors will do the rest.
Mehmet Izbudak, Director
|Antonio Salieri||~||Stephen Rock|
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart||~||Russell Thompson|
|Katherina Cavalieri||~||Jayne Blumire|
|Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg||~||Val Foskett|
|Baron Gottfried Van Swieten||~||Kathie Arundell|
|Count Johann Kilian Von Strack||~||Philippa Booth|
|Constanze Weber||~||Adela Gonsalves|
|Joseph II||~||David Freeman|
|Salieri's Cook||~||Katrina Vestuto|
|Salieri's Valet||~||Philippa Booth|
|Teresa Salieri||~||Katrina Vestuto|
|1st Venticello||~||Katrina Vestuto|
|2nd Venticello||~||Jayne Blumire|
|Director||~||Mehmet C. Izbudak|
|Stage Manager||~||Sarah Hewitt|
|Assistant Stage Manager||~||Georgina Gunn|
|Set Construction||~||David Freeman|
|Programme Design||~||Simon Harris|
|Props||~||Clare Inglis, Dani Razabi|
|Box Office||~||Penny Stone, Val Foskett|
|Front of House||~||Pat Bryant, Donna Chisholm, Catherine Jackson, Penny Stone|
|Webpage||~||Simon Harris, update by Matthew Petty|
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