Theatre Interview: Aidan Scott – Disonant Disruptor, Or Smooth Opera-tor

April 6, 2024




Gloucester Productions’ 2024 staging of Peter Schaffer’s classic text Amadeus moves from Johannesburg (at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre) to Cape Town (at Theatre on the Bay). This Tony Award-winning play was first staged in 1979 and has had numerous productions around the world since. An Oscar-winning movie adaptation was made in 1984. In the court of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II (Mark Elderkin), Antonio Salieri (Alan Committie) is the established composer. Enter the greatest musical symphonist of all time: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, played by Aidan Scott, who discusses his role.


Live performance: the thrill versus the nerves – where are you on that curve as a new show starts?

In plain truth, I get very nervous. I always have. Shakingly nervous. And that’s something that I’m open and honest about, because I think we all know what that feels like. But as soon as I’ve said my first line of the play, I tap into all the work and technique I have and enter into a sort of flow state. It’s exhilarating. I generally take a lot of time to work through the steps of what the particular production feels like. How it sounds. How it moves as a story. And how I fit into that equation. Once I have that general structure and framework that we reach in the first couple of weeks of rehearsals, I feel comfortable enough to play and explore. I’m an actor that needs to know the rules to do my best work. I need to know what the bigger picture looks like to begin placing myself at the heart of it. Only after some rehearsals do I finally begin to breathe life into the character with all the groundwork and structure imbedded in my body.


How do you find a balance during rehearsals or other preparation?

I don’t find balance. If I have the luxury of being in a rehearsal process that is all my brain can think about. That being said, exercise is something I try to keep regular. It also helps detach from the work for an hour or two and come back with a fresh perspective.


In a best-case scenario, what are you looking for in a role? What is the main basis for that decision – the script, the people involved, the challenge to your skills, the impact (positive or negative) it might have on your life in general, or perhaps something else?

If I feel scared about it, I want to do it. I think chasing things that feel uncomfortable have always been the greatest catalyst for growth in my work. Another big thing for me is the team. The ensemble of creators attached to a project has always been more important to me than the prestige of say, working with some hot-shot producer, actor or director. I do my best work with people I trust and have chemistry with. Luckily this particular production has all of those things combined.


Acting is often a vocation, a thing you can’t not do. How true is that for you now? Has it changed over the years – for practical, perhaps banal reasons? And how do you, or would you like to, keep your calling front and centre in your life?

Theatre has really become a way I understand the world. It’s a language that I’ve grown to understand at the core of who I am so I don’t think there is a way out of it really! I’m lucky to have found it at such a young age and think it’s going to be a part of who I am for a very long time. The other side of that double-edged sword is that life is so much more than theatre, so I often have to remind myself the importance of rest, relationships and all the other little moments of life that are fundamentally human. Being a human is a funny thing. Preaching to the choir here. I think I’m constantly trying to find how to marry the two together in my own life. I think a lot of people in this business feel the same. I think being an artist in whatever medium is slightly obsessive. I might be wrong, but that’s how I feel.


What are the toughest expectations to deliver on – all the way from the first audition to the end of the run?

Words. I’m only half joking. It’s a big thing for me personally. The other thing is trying to keep things fresh for yourself. I think it’s easy to go for the safest choice in an audition or performance. Something that you know audiences enjoy. But to find a moment or scene where you surprise yourself is something that I often keep at the forefront of my brain. Sometimes you find it in a single moment. Sometimes you find it for the entire run of a show. Sometimes you never find it, and that’s okay too.


Tell us about your current production, and what makes your character interesting to play?

Amadeus by Peter Schaffer is one of the greatest plays of our time for a reason. It is a colossal rivalry of two people at its core. It’s also a rivalry that I think every person on earth can relate to. This one just happens to be between one of the greatest composers of all time and his counterpart. The play is often done with a cast of more than 20 actors. Our production has eight actors, which in my opinion makes it a unique theatrical experience with the ensemble at its core. It is storytelling at its finest and most raw.