Why I decided to Direct a Play

Why I decided to direct a play.

Most of my work as an independent artist has fallen into the realm of visual media or film.  I have studied, read and workshopped in different capacities to sharpen my ability to translate an emotion, theme or comment into a frame using a combination of composition, lighting and specific imagery.  What then, you might ask, compelled me invest half a year in time into directing a play.  Well, let me indulge you.

One:  The play was good.

I was invited onto a project that was already up and running when the original director had to step off.  Three quarters cast, I would assist in finding the last team member before moving into the rehearsal process.  The play that we were casting for was John Patrick Shanley’s Four Dogs and a Bone.  Both comical and honest, I was eager to direct such a well written piece of work.

Two: Cold Winter Nights

Vancouver is a lovely city.  But the winters can be grey with breaks of sun being few and far between.  Autumn had just started to transition the city from warm to washed out and the idea of finding sanctuary in a studio space a couple of nights a week as the winter passed over was a welcome thought.

Three: Expansion of imagination

I think one of the biggest challenges as a Director is helping your actors fill the scene with what is needed without telling them what is needed.  As the individual standing outside and framing the scene, you are able to identify what is working as well as what layers are not yet present, or need to be expanded upon to maintain the overall flow of a story, arc or character.  The difficult part is assisting your players in finding these discoveries and these elements on their own, in their own recognition as the character, without telling them what it is they are looking for.  In agreeing to direct four individuals through this process over a 6 month period, I would have to stretch my own imagination to find different ways of expressing specific scene or story requirements.  And I have.  Whether through developing different exercises to have the coupled scene partners engage in, or research assignments that play into the rehearsal process - indeed, even my dialogue and specificity around giving direction has slowly shifted.

Four: Trust

I am good at what I do.  The more I trust, the more it’s true.  

And the more my actors trust me.  It’s a beautiful cycle that I knew would challenge my belief in self and challenge my ego’s need for outside validation.  My actors need to feel that I trust myself so that they can put their trust in me.  

Right now I sit at the halfway mark between starting the project and curtain call.  I couldn’t be more proud of how I’ve grown and more eager to see where my strength brings me by the end of this theatrical adventure.