The term ‘director’ conjures up images of the special chair (much like a throne), the top dog, the person telling the minions what to do. Some actors, interestingly, still think of the theatre director in this way – happy to pass over all responsibility and decision making to that one person who apparently knows everything about the play in question, and who has all the answers. This, quite frankly, is absurd.
I have always tried to work in a collaborative way with actors in the rehearsal room; I have also always been the one making the final call, but my decision may not be one I was initially keen on making, but have been won over to by the demonstration of an idea from the actors. My first production at HHS was purely collaborative. I worked with some of the most amazing junior and senior actors I have worked with, and together we created Pride and Prejudice with lots of laughter and dancing. I would like to get back to that…
So now I’m considering the role of the director, and how we align it with this kind of collaborative thinking and way of working. There are many theatre companies who do away with the role altogether, but I don’t think this is necessary in all cases and simply doesn’t work in some. It’s more a case of redefining what we think of when we say director, associating it with someone who is more of an overseer, someone capable of seeing the long-term of a project and guiding things in the direction the group has decided to go down. A director is also someone able to see things in very fine detail, to think about the construct of the whole picture of a piece of work. The word director has so many connotations of ultimate power, and is very close to the word dictator, that we either need to soften its edges or find a new word without getting rid of all the vital assets a director figure brings to a production.
I would love for my One Act class to get on board with this new redefined Director, with you all helping us to create our piece. Rose and the Rime was first produced by the House Theatre in Chicago and they had three writers and the cast created the show with the help of an overseer, but this play is meant to be collaborative! So lets collaborate!