Manhattan Rep Cultivating Amazing Theatre in the Heart of Times Square!
#33 -The Right Director and the Right Choices for your Play - August 6, 2017
When bringing you play to life for the first time in a small self-produced production, it is important to make sure you have the right director, who will help and lead the actors to make the right choices. As a director, I always look to fulfill the playwright's intention. Are the choices we are making with this production congruent with what the playwright wants? I never make the production about me. A director who makes a production about HIS AMAZING "DIRECTORIAL-NESS" is not serving anyone. And never serving the play.
I once gave one of my plays to a director to direct. It was a monologue play with 10 actors that I had directed myself many times and it was always great fun for the actors and the audience alike. So I sat down and gave this director some concepts and principles about the play in production that ALWAYS worked. I also said, "Of course, you can do whatever you like, but I know from experience these principles work."
4 weeks later, I attended the production and I was mortified. The director and the actors made all the wrong choices about the material. They added goofy character mannerisms in monologues that needed to be real. They made "tiny" choices about the drama in other monologues. And the director tried to somehow make it an ensemble piece by having all the actor on stage all the time, which only stole focus from the person doing the monologue and limited the actors in changing costumes and wigs to create different characters. It was mind-boggling. The choices made by the director and the actors actually made my writing look bad, sound bad, and seem sophomoric, when I knew from directing the play more than 20 times, this play was brilliant.
So if you are going to do any sort of self-produced production (which you should do, all playwrights should workshop and develop their work,) make sure you are on the same page with your director, that he wants to bring your play to life and NOT HIS CONCEPT of your play. Interview directors extensively. Find out what they value in theatre, what they value in life, and find out if they are on the same page as you as to your intentions with your play.
I don't want you to experience what I did. Of course, I had done my show before so I knew it worked, but a director making the wrong choices about your play can actually make you believe your play is not good, when simply the wrong choices were made about your material.
Elicit a director's values.
Find the right director fit, and watch your play blossom!