STAGE DIRECTING Thinking Back and Looking Forward TH 426 (Bartruff) You are no longer a beginning director 1 Did you enjoy the experience? 2 Did your projects come alive? 3 What is your evaluation of the project? 4 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 5 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? 6 7 8 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 • • • • • • Community Theatre of Emporia Granada Theatre Emporia High School Local churches Dance studios Red Rocks OTHER OPPORTUNITIES • • • • • • • • • 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. • • • • • • • • • 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.