The Director Evolution of the director The function of the director has always been present in one way or another, even though we haven’t always called them that Greece – the Choregus was in charge of rehearsing the actors (and paying the bills!) Medieval/Renaissance/Restoration – the actor- manager was a leading member of the company who handled the business end and some of the staging in addition to acting
The Director Evolution of the director Term “director” became common at the end of the 19th century ▪ Technology was developing to a place that we needed someone to guide the production to keep everyone from getting out of hand The director must draw disparate elements together to create a unified whole It’s the director’s job to make sure everything fits on the same “planet”
GEORG II –Duke of Saxe-Meiningen Generally known as the “First Director,” the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen was a wealthy German who loved theatre enough to finance his own company – The Meininger Ensemble – which he ran with his wife and a friend of theirs. This company was particularly famous for using historically accurate costumes (this was not common at the time – instead, mostly actors would just wear their own fancy clothes whether they fit the play or not) as well as his extremely complex crowd scenes.
Konstantin Stanislavsky Konstantin Stanislavsky (see… I told you we’d be talking about him again) co-founded the world-famous Moscow Art Theatre with his friend Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. There, they focused on developing productions with psychological and visual realism. Think about Russian books from that period – they were so thick because they were so full of detail. They wanted to recreate that on the stage. (And yes, that’s me taking a long-arm picture with good ol’ Stanislavsky this past summer)
Jerzy GrotowskiJerzy Grotowski was an experimental Polishdirector who worked with his actors on acommunal farm (The Polish LaboratoryTheatre) where they did extremely physicaltraining so that they were able to completelycontrol their bodies. They liked to experimentwith aesthetic distance, making the audiencemore a part of the performance than theywere used to. His productions use costumesand sets that seem primitive and dirty ratherthan elaborate, realistic elements. His book,Towards a Poor Theatre, outlined hisphilosophy on theatre. One of his mostfamous pieces is Akropolis. It is a group of If you’re interested, click here toprisoners in a concentration camp enacting a check out a little bit of Akropolis.series of stories while also building the oven It’s in Polish… and it’s probablyinto which they will eventually disappear completely different fromforever. anything you’ve seen before.
Anne Bogart Anne Bogart is still alive and working today. She founded a company in Upstate New York called The SITI Company which focuses on very physical training methods. In particular she developed a system called VIEWPOINTS that teaches actors to be very aware of themselves and their fellow actors as they move through the stage space. Her productions tend to be unrealistic and expressive with a focus on imagination and collaboration.
Robert WilsonRobert Wilson is a famousexperimental director who hasworked on everything from traditionalplays to seven day long performancesand beyond. He was a stutterer as achild and as an adult he has workedextensively with children with speechand mental disabilities, which hasshaped the non-linear worlds hecreates on stage. He also studied asan architect, so he designs his ownsets in addition to directing. Lastmonth he launched the world tour ofa remounting of his famous 4 ½ hourEinstein on the Beach in Ann Arbor…and I got to see it! I believe one ofyour classmates also got to attend!
What a Director Does• Play Analysis In the following slides I’ll go into more detail on each of these.• Director’s Concept This is a fairly basic list, so it is by no means complete. Every• Collaborate with Designers director – like every playwright and every artists – has his or her• Cast the Actors own approach and style. Although the hardest part of• Block the Show the job for almost everyone is to let the play go once it has• Rehearse the Actors opened. Directors spend weeks or sometimes months• Let it go! rehearsing with the cast, but then they have to step away once it’s ready for an audience. It’s hard to say goodbye!
Play Analysis These are just a few of the questions• Visit to a Small Planet a director might ask as they approach a play. But there are as• Aristotle’s Six Elementsmany approaches as there are directors and plays – almost infinite• Plot Structure possibilities! Look at the next two slides for images from some very• Style different productions. Try to think about what decisions the directors• Genre might have made that led them in such different directions based on• All to lead you to… the same scripts. THE DIRECTOR’S CONCEPT
The Rehearsal Process• Casting – choosing the actors• Rehearsal – practicing lines, movements and characters• Tech Rehearsal – the rehearsals when sound, lighting and set are added• Dress Rehearsal – the rehearsals when costumes, makeup and wigs are added• Final Dress – the final rehearsal before there’s an audience• Previews – performances before the official opening night, sometimes with an invited audience of friends/critics, sometimes tickets are sold• Opening Night! – the first night that is officially open for the public to purchase tickets
Rehearsing the Actors• Table Work – the first few rehearsals when the actors and director read the play around the table asking and answering questions• Improvisation – some directors like to work with the actors outside of the script, letting them imagine events with their own words and ideas• Learning lines – gotta get memorized!• Blocking – setting the movements of the actors from place to place on the stage• Stage Business – the smaller actions performed by actors like smoking a cigarette or playing with their hair• Stage Pictures – the images that are created by the blocking and stage business• Notes – directors are always giving notes to the actors, trying to help them improve and find their characters• Repetition! – we do things over and over and over and over – that’s the only way to get it right!
Types of Directors• Playwright-centered – Faithfully interpret the world of the play as the playwright intended• Auteur – Interpret the world of the play as they see fit to communicate their own unique vision – Sometimes they alter the texts dramatically – They could combine texts, use other forms of media, rearrange scenes, etc.
Who the Director Works With• Stage Manager – Coordinates all the rehearsals – Keeps a record of all the blocking during rehearsals – Runs the technical rehearsals – Takes charge of the show once it is open – Calls the cues during the performances “Cue” is one of those theatre words that has a lot of meanings. A “cue” can be a line of dialogue or an action from an actor that signals something is supposed to happen.A cue can also be a light change or a sound effect. In this case, we’re talking about thelatter: The Stage Manager has her script with all the light and sound cues marked in it, and it is up to her to call when they are to happen.
Who the Director Works With• Dramaturg – Assist in the selection of plays – Work with playwrights to develop new scripts – Research any contextual or historical information to assist with the director’s concept – Serve as the in-house critic – “ideal audience member” – Prepare educational and outreach materials – Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: “first dramaturg”
Producers• “The producer is concerned with the business of show business” – Oscar Brockett (the granddaddy of Theatre History… he just passed away last year)• Budgeting• Hiring• Marketing• Internal Operations• May not be an artist• May also be the Executive Director of the theatre• Could be a corporate producer (Think Disney)
Board of Directors• Like a producer for non-profit theatre• Usually unpaid group of volunteers who raise money and provide support for the theatre• Work with the theatre’s Artistic and/or Executive Director(s)