STAGE DIRECTING
Thinking Back and Looking Forward
TH 426 (Bartruff)
You are no longer a beginning director
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Did you enjoy the experience?
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Did your projects come alive?
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What is your evaluation of the project?
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If not perhaps directing is not for you.
Why did that happen? Why not? Was it due mainly to the actors you cast?
Or, do you believe youguided them to give energized and clear performances?
What do you believe you did well? What did you do least well? Why? The answers
to these questions will begin to help you define your directorial strategy.
Did you grow as an artist?
In what ways? As a craftsperson? As an artist?
You are no longer a beginning director
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Was there one particularly illuminating experience?
What made it so? Can you describe it? How can you build on it? Can you repeat it?
What aspects of your craft need to be improved?
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Make a list, in descending order of importance, of specific areas of directing that need improvement.
Read more about these areas in other directing texts. Perhaps this experience will give you a better
insight into the problems and how they might be solved.
Do you believe your actors trusted you?
If not, why? Try to isolate your difrectorial qualities that elicited confidence, or caused them
to doubt you. Should you seek further training as an actor in order to be a better director
of actors?
Are you ready to work with designers?
Why? Why not? Perhaps further training in stage and/or lighting design will illuminate
the design process and give you more confidence.
“Analysing your work after the run has ended”
from THE DIRECTOR’S CRAFT by Katie Mitchell
The best way to develop as a director is to analyse your
mistakes. When a production ends the first feeling you will
experience will be relief that it is over. You will want to rest
before anticipating the next production or looking for the
next job. Before doing either, take an hour or so to reflect
on what you have just done…
As you develop your skills in this way remember that there
is no definitive, absolute or platonic solution to the staging
of the text. Every decision a director makes about putting a
play on involves an act of interpretation…
It will also help if you seek out productions or artists, either
in your field or outside, by whom you measure
yourself…set the bar impossibly high…
•KEEP DIRECTING
This first part of your journey was devoted to short scripts
You should now be ready to face the challenges of longer
plays…one-act plays or short full-length plays. Finding a venue to
direct may be difficult but the following suggestions may be
helpful.
CLASSROOM VENUES
If you can’t find an opportunity, make one.
Approach the instructor
of a theatre appreciation
class and volunteer to
direct a scene for the class.
Ask for suggestions of
material or recommend
your own.
Direct new works for a
playwriting course.
•HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Secondary schools produce a couple of plays a year
•CIVIC AND COMMUNITY THEATRES
Sometimes groups showcase new talent and new works
Other directing opportunities in Emporia
ORGANIZATIONS
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Community Theatre of Emporia
Granada Theatre
Emporia High School
Local churches
Dance studios
Red Rocks
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
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Educational Theatre Company
10-minutes plays from playwriting
course in English
Presentations for other courses
Informal play readings
Fridays at 5
Living room theatre
Library
Daycare centers
Scout troops
•OTHER SUGGESTIONS
Look for other theatre experiences
See theatre performances.
•Read Plays and Memoirs
Set a goal to read 15-20 new plays a year. Read works by and
about other theatre artists.
•Keep a journal
When you see something that intrigues you…write about it.
Epilogue - Notes on Directing
Frank Hauser and Russell Reich
Your first, second and third duty is to the
author. After that come the actor, the
audience, the producer or anyone else. The
author tells everyone what to do, but the
instructions are in code. Being a director
means cracking that code, interpreting, not to
demonstrate how clever you are, but to get out
of the way, to let the actors show the play in
clear to the audience. Your job is to prevent
any changes in the script unless you are
honestly convinced by repeated trial that
change is essential.
Epilogue - Notes on Directing – part 2
You must come up with no “concept” of the
play that means omitting passages which don’t
fit, altering an emphasis for the sake of nevelty,
or twisting the writer’s overt intention in order
to bring out some hypothetical Inner Meaning.
In other words, be honest.
The current fondness for updating texts—
Shakespeare, the Greeks—is basically a form of
snobbery: “How amusing! They’re quite like
us!” As if there were anything to be said for
dragging Medea or Hamlet into our appalling
time.
Epilogue - Notes on Directing – part 3
Contrariwise, if the plays are well
presented in their own period, we have
the far more fascinating and educative
experience of time travel, going back
across the centuries and finding out
how like them WE are. Keep in mind
that what is new is not necessarily good
because it is new. What is old,
however, is worthy of our respect,
attention, and study because it IS old
because it HAS lasted.
The Directorial Landscape
from THINKING LIKE A DIRECTOR by Michael Bloom
A book on directing would be remiss in not
painting a picture, however subjective, of the
context for the aspiring American director.
Community and educational theaters offer
considerable opportunities to direct—and
sometimes excellent physical resources.
Earning a living wage in the profession is more
difficult…
If your desire is such that you have no choice
but to direct, there are a number of ways to
make a start—
Graduate school
Teaching
Regional Theatre (LORT)
The Directorial Landscape – part 2
from THINKING LIKE A DIRECTOR by Michael Bloom
The financial climate for the arts…is precarious
and has caused some theaters to rein in both
ambition and risk…if theater is to awaken to its
tru potential in American culture, the future
artists will probably have to tak on greater
artistic and social responsibility. They will need
to lobby more forcefully for the very principle
of government support of the arts…Directors of
the future will have to work harder to connect
their art to increasingly diverse communities—
a much greater level of engagement between
directions and actual and potential audiences…
Some Notable Contemporary Directors
More and more women are directors
IN RECENT YEARS, MORE AND MORE
WOMEN HAVE EXCELLED AS
THEATRE DIRECTORS.
THE CHART ON THE RIGHT
IDENTIFIES SOME OF THE MORE
PROMINENT . EACH HAS ALSO
ENJOYED A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF
POPULAR ACCLAIM.
SUSAN STROMAN
• Contact, The Producers, Scottsboro Boys,
Big Fish
GARRY HYNES
• Ireland’s Druid Theatre: Beauty Queen of
Leenane, Lonesome West, Translations
JULIE TAYMOR
MANY IMPORTANT FEMALE
DIRECTORS TODAY RUN THEATRE
COMPANIES…They include LIBBY
APPEL, LYNN MEADOW, DIANE
PAULUS and many others.
• East Meets West in the Tempest, Juan
Darien, The Lion King, Spiderman
PHYLLIDA LLOYD
• Mamma Mia!, Threepenny Opera, Maria
Stuart FILM: Iron Lady
Some Notable Contemporary Directors
Not to be sexist, here are some busy modern male directors
GEORGE C. WOLFE
The old guard includes notables such as
Peter Hall, Peter Brook, Mike Nichols
and Trevor Nunn.
For the musical theatre Rob Marshall
and Jack O’Brien are highly sought
after. Marshall’s sister Kathleen,
likewise.
Douglas Hughes, the son or an actor is
a busy director.
Regional directors include Des McAnuff
(Stratford), Joe Dowling (Guthrie
Theatre) and KC Rep’s Eric Rosen.
• Playwright and Director
• Angels in America, Caroline or Change, Lucky Guy
JOE MANTELLO
• Actor becomes sought after director and
helms Wicked, Take Me Out, Assassins
MATTHEW WARCHUS
• Matilda, God of Carnage, Boeing-Boeing
JERRY MITCHELL
• HS Jock to Broadway mainstay
• Full Monty, Legally Blonde, Kinky Boots
•Further coursework
Is an advanced directing course in your future? Don’t stop learning.
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SOME RECOMMENDED READING
Michael Bloom. THINKING LIKE A DIRECTOR.
Anne Bogart. A DIRECTOR PREPARES.
Peter Brook. THE EMPTY SPACE.
Harold Clurman. ON DIRECTING
Rebecca Daniels. WOMEN STAGE DIRECTORS SPEAK.
Hauser and Reich. NOTES ON DIRECTING.
Francis Hodge. PLAY DIRECTING (ANALYSIS, COMMUNICATION AND STYLE.)
Elia Kazan. A LIFE.
Katie Mitchell. THE DIRECTOR’S CRAFT.
Mel Shapiro. THE DIRECTOR’S COMPANION.
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Epilogue - Notes on Directing