ABC of Am Dram – D is for …
DIRECTION: The director is essential the one in charge – the captain of the ship. It’s his or her vision for the piece that is to be brought to life. A good director has a strong relationship with their designer and production team – working together to achieve the best possible production. There are many types of directing styles.
The dictator is strong, assertive and dominant and can be rather abrasive and lack tact and diplomacy. Rehearsals are controlled and predictable where the actors having little or no say. This style can sometimes stifle creativity but on the other hand in an inexperienced group and can get the job done.
The negotiator may use a more improvised approach to rehearsal and is more democratic in shaping ideas with actors and production team the ideas. He/she favours collaboration but there can arise a situation where there is no overall control.
The creative director sees him/herself as an artist working with the ‘materials’ of dramatic creativity; performers, designers and production team. The “creative artist” wants input from the actors but has the final say over what is included and how ideas are to be incorporated
The confrontationist is in constant debate with the cast and the production team about creative decisions and interpretations. This director may seek out and actively engage in strong exchanges, which can sometimes be heated or risky, but may produce a challenging experience and production.
There is no right or wrong way to direct, in the end it’s what works for the company and the production – remember always the PLAY IS THE THING and it’s bigger than any actor or any director.
Does a play achieve what the playwright, director and cast set out to achieve?
A comedy must make us laugh – if it doesn’t, then it matters not how good the set and costumes are or how solid the blocking -its purpose is to achieve laughter or at least a smile! A drama may do many things -make us cry, make us angry, make us feel afraid. So essentially, achievement is about an emotional response. Do we care about the characters? Do we believe them and the story?
A play can present a fabulous set – the lighting and sound can enhance this and make it a truly sensual experience. We can marvel at the director’s imaginative interpretation and the actors’ obvious skill. All of this can give us a good experience but if we are touched, moved, struck by the impact of the very essence or heart of the piece it has truly achievement its dramatic potential. for it is our audience that must be our final judge and jury. If they leave the auditorium satisfied, elated, overwhelmed then the production has done its job.
This is what sets the narrative apart for the story is told to us through the words of characters or in some cases a narrator. Dialogue should be natural and economic and delivered with energy, purpose and intelligence. DICTION is something which must be correct – there is nothing worse than not being able to understand an actor because of bad diction.
The DEVELOPMENT of both characters and plot must be evident and something the writer then director are responsible for. Characters are on a journey, the plot has to go somewhere. Of course there are exception, some forms of absurdist theatre don’t really show an obvious development – nevertheless the cast and director must find a satisfactory conclusion to the performance.
It finally arrives – all the hard work in the different departments can now be seen – all the excitement, often the panic, very often the let down when everything seems to fall apart but usually if the DRESS IS A MESS THE SHOW’S A SUCCESS.
We often vow NEVER AGAIN but after the curtain falls on the final night we are desperate to start the process all over again.
Bev Clark is a Playwright, Director & Drama adjudicator who has worked all over England in both professional and community theatre. She has been writing original drama scripts and directing plays for many years.