Notes On Directing


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From time to time on the Brand Autopsy blog, I share "money quotes" from business books I've recently read. This presentation shares "money quotes" from NOTES ON DIRECTING (Hauser & Reich).

This is not a business book. Instead, it’s a book about how a playhouse director should go about doing their business. The approach of managing a stage production with actors, stagehands, and a script is not unlike managing a project with core team members, ancillary employees, and a project plan. You’ll have to connect some dots. Do just that and you’ll be a smarter business manager.

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Notes On Directing

  2. 2. “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.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 79
  3. 3. “Your job is to prevent any changes in the script unless you are honestly convinced by repeated change that change is essential.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 79
  4. 4. No. 15 You are the Obstetrician. “You are not the parent of this child we call the play. Your job most of the time is simply to do no harm.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 9
  5. 5. No. 17 Don’t always connect all the dots. “Give the audience a role in filling in what‟s happening. That is, give them all the dots they need but don‟t connect all the dots for them.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 10
  6. 6. No. 21 Don’t expect to have all the answers. “You‟re the leader, but you are not alone. The other artists are there to contribute as well. Use them.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 11
  7. 7. No. 28 “Actors and others will follow you even if they disagree with your direction. But they will not follow if you are afraid to lead. NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 14
  8. 8. No. 29 Directing is mostly Casting. “Some say directing is 60 percent casting, others say 90 percent. Regardless, it‟s a lot.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 17
  9. 9. No. 29 Directing is mostly Casting. “There is not a more important single decision you will make during the production than who you put into a role.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 17
  10. 10. No. 47 Don’t bury your head in the script. “Watch as much as possible. When you‟re running an act, and even more the whole play, don‟t sit taking notes all the time.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 29
  11. 11. No. 56 Every actor has a tell. “A tell is what an actor does when he doesn‟t know what to do. It is a habitual behaviour that is completely irrelevant to the task at hand …” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 35
  12. 12. No. 56 Every actor has a tell. “… and reveals itself at times of insecurity, fear, or lack of focus or imagination.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 35
  13. 13. No. 56 Every actor has a tell. “Discovering [your actors‟ tells] can be a valuable diagnostic indicator of when intervention is needed to clarify the character‟s situation.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 36
  14. 14. No. 61 Sincerely praise actors. “Rather than correcting your actors all the time, get in the habit of frequently telling them what they are doing right.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 40
  15. 15. No. 70 Please, PLEASE be decisive. “As the director, you have three weapons: „Yes,‟ „No,‟ and „I don‟t know.‟ Use them. Don’t dither; you can always change your mind later.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 45
  16. 16. No. 72 Correct actors in private. “This will not only prevent damage caused by embarrassing them in front of others, it will make them feel good to get individual attention.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 46
  17. 17. No. 76 Introduce bad news with “and” not “but.” DON’T: “The costume looks great, but you‟re not keeping your hat up, and we can see your face.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 47
  18. 18. No. 76 Introduce bad news with “and” not “but.” DO: “The costume looks great, and when you keep your hat up, we can see your gorgeous face.” NOTES ON DIRECTING p. 47