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    Understanding Directors

    Source # 1

       A Midsummer's Night Dream
    by William Shakespeare
    Adapted by Jill Mountain

       Act I, Scene 2
       A group of working men are putting together a play to perform for the Duke and
       Duchess of Athens on the night of their wedding. This is their first meeting, and
       they are discussing the play and assigning roles.
       Peter: A carpenter, the leader of the group of players
       Nick: A weaver
       Frank: A handyman
       Rob: A tailor
       Tom: A metal-worker
       Steve: A construction worker
       1) Peter: When I call your name, say, "Here!" and I will tell you what part you'll play.
       I have here the list with all of your names on it. Of all the men in Athens, you all
       are the best...the most qualified...the only ones who volunteered to put on this
       Nick: First, please...what is the play about?
       Peter: Oh, it's a fine play, Nick. It's probably the best play ever written. It is the
       most lamentable, or regrettable comedy of the cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.
       Rob: You've seen the play, Nick?
       Peter: I just wrote it last night!
       2) Nick: One of the finest plays. I assure you, gentlemen. Peter, call the roll and
       assign the roles! Gentlemen - spread out!
       Peter: Fine, fine. Nick! Nick? Are you here, Nick?
       Nick: Here, Peter! Tell me, what role will I play?
       Peter: You, Nick, will play Pyramus.
       Nick: Wonderful! Oh what luck! Pyramus! Indeed! I shall play Pyramus! Peter, is
       Pyramus a romantic character, or is he a villain?
       Peter: Oh, he's the most romantic character, and he's willing to give up anything
       for the woman he loves. He will literally give his life for love.
       Nick: If I play the part well enough, which I will, the audience will be in tears!
       They'll be crying like babies at how romantic I am. But the thing is, Peter, I'm really
       much better suited to play a villain - a real tyrant.
       Peter: Frank?
       Nick:[Interrupts Peter] A tyrant - really a villain. One of the great villains. [Begins
       acting - very dramatic] From the tops of the mountains! From the the
       crushing rocks below...below...below [voice fades]. I will find them! I will
       find them! And I will...
       Peter: Frank?
       3) Frank: Here, Peter. What role will I play?
       Peter: You, Frank, will play Thisbe.
       Frank: Thisbe? Who is Thisbe? A brave knight?
       Peter: No.
       Frank: A wandering hero? I could easily play the young hero.
       Peter: No. Thisbe is not a hero.
       Frank: A great adventurer, then? An explorer who goes into uncharted waters and
       saves a damsel in distress?
       4) Peter: No. Thisbe is the girl Pyramus is in love with.
       Frank: A girl? A girl! I can't play a girl! Look! I'm growing a beard.
       Peter: [Examines Frank's chin] No, I don't see it. You will play Thisbe.
       Nick: Wait! I can wear a mask and I can play Thisbe too! Listen [speaks in a high
       voice] Oh Pyramus! Oh Pyramus! I love you so much, Pyramus!
       Frank: That's a great idea! Let Nick play a girl.
       Peter: No! Frank, you will play Thisbe and Nick, you will play Pyramus. Let me
       continue. Rob?
       5) Rob: Here, Peter!
       Peter: Rob, you will play Thisbe's mother.
       Nick: Thisbe's mother is not very pretty.
       Peter: Tom?
       Tom: Here, Peter!
       Peter: You'll play Pyramus's father. I'll play Thisbe's father, and Steve, you'll play
       the lion.
       Steve: Do you have the lion's part written? Can I have it? I know it will take me a
       long time to learn it.
       6) Peter: There is no script for the lion, Steve. You will perform it extemporaneously.
       Steve: I'll do what?
       Peter: Extemporaneously. You'll make it up on your own.
       Nick: Wait! Let me play the lion! I'll be the fiercest lion that ever walked on a
       stage. I'll roar and claw and growl. The audience will be in awe of my amazing
       lion performance [roars]. The Duke, himself, will stand up and say, "Let the lion
       roar again! Let him roar again!" [roar]
       Peter: No, no, Nick. You'll be too realistic. You'll be so much like a real lion that
       you'll scare the ladies in the audience and we'll all be put in prison for
       threatening members of royalty.
       7) Peter: Nick - the only part you may play is Pyramus. That's it. You can play one
       part - Pyramus.
       Nick: Can I at least wear a fake beard or a disguise?
       Peter. That's fine. Wear a beard. But you can only play Pyramus. Now - are we all
       set? Does everyone know their part?
       All: Yes!
       Peter: Good - let's meet tonight in the forest. I know a clearing where we can
       rehearse without anyone seeing us. Be sure you're on time!

    Source # 2

    The Theater Director
    by Jill Mountain

       1) While many people are drawn to the potential for fame and power associated with being a theater director, only a few are truly successful. An effective theater director is a unique individual who combines business, organizational, and exceptional inter-personal skills with a sharp mind for literature and a clear creative vision. While the author creates the story, the characters, and the lines, it is the director who brings the play to life and applies his or her own unique vision to production. There are several key responsibilities a theater director must fulfill.
       Casting the Play
       2) The director organizes and oversees auditions. While he or she may not be the only voice in the decision process, other stakeholders look to the director for a firm opinion on each audition. In addition to looking for actors who fit the look and tone of the production, the director must also pay attention to chemistry between actors, to ensure that the fictional relationships of the play are not undermined by obviously mismatched actors. In addition, the director must quickly assess each actor's personality and temperament to ensure the actor will be a good fit professionally with the rest of the organization.
       3) Rehearsal involves more than repeatedly running through a play from beginning to end. Effective directors must choose how and when to begin rehearsals. For example, many directors choose to begin rehearsing the climax of a play first, in order to give actors a sense of what they should be working toward in their performances. The director also considers staging during every rehearsal, and how the audience will perceive every action and inflection performed by the actors.
       4) During rehearsal, the director should coach and work with individual actors, as well as the group, in order to achieve the vision he or she has perceived for the play. One-on-one coaching is not uncommon, especially for the most important roles. After each scene rehearsal, an attentive and effective director will provide notes to most, if not all of the players, either pointing out strengths in their work so far, or asking for a different approach or adjustment to the scene. For this reason, a director must be highly attentive to detail and the smallest nuances in speech and body language.
       5) While most established theaters have property managers who handle all elements of staging, and lighting managers who adjust stage and audience lighting through out a performance, these professionals can only do their jobs if the director is able to do his or hers. An effective director is open to discussions with lighting and property managers and, rather than dictate specific requirements, is willing to be part of a team of professionals focused on creating a singular vision for the performance.
       6) The director is not directly responsible for ticket sales or marketing of a play. Nor is he or she responsible for determining employee salaries or negotiating contracts for theater space, costume rentals, or other expenses associated with the production. However, the director must be available and willing to participate in marketing meetings, and must understand the financial constraints of a production in order to make the most informed decisions for a production. For this reason, the director should expect to participate in business and financial meetings related to the play.
       7) If a play is successful and has a long run, the director may turn directing duties to an assistant director from time to time, which provides the novice an opportunity to hone his or her own skills with a well-managed play. However, it is imperative that the director attends most performances personally, as, over time, new adjustments may need to occur in order for the play to remain as fresh as it was on opening night.

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