Director’s Diary: On Being Present

Director's Diary: On Being Present

I’ve said many times that theatre is a collaborative medium, and (generally speaking!) you can’t do it totally alone.  Oftentimes part of a rehearsal (or sometimes all of it) will be run by someone other than the director. Early in the process of rehearsing for a musical, for example, the musical director will often run rehearsals to teach the songs and vocal work, so that the choreographer can then teach the dance moves that will accompany the music. Or, a fight director will be in charge of the rehearsals where violence needs to be added. Later in the rehearsal process, warm-ups and exercises might be run by a dance captain or fight captain as needed.  Blocking is not always added until later in the process, depending on the needs of the show and preferences of the artistic team.

However, I think it’s important that the director of a show be present at as many rehearsals as humanly possible, even when they are not running the rehearsal. As the director, you are responsible for creating and executing the full vision of the show. As such, you should be present to bounce ideas off of with your team, or answer questions that arise. You can deliver important information — such as informing the FD that unfortunately the actors cannot fight their duel right in centre stage, because there is a giant fountain in that area!  A highly-organized director will also plan his or her time well and use that rehearsal time for many important and useful tasks, such as working with actors on blocking or character work if they are not called to work with another team member; meeting with the costume team/props team/lighting designer/sound designer to discuss these important aspects of the design of the show; or meeting with the producer to discuss budgets, publicity, marketing, etc.

It’s also important that the director be present to boost the cast and crew’s morale.  By being present and take the time to BE THERE, the director shows that they are taking the production seriously and that they are invested in the success of the show!  You’re also leading by example: if the director is present at all rehearsals, then it encourages the actors and crew to be at every rehearsal too!

Of course, life happens, and we all know it’s not possible to be everywhere all the time.  I just missed two rehearsals this past weekend for The Wedding Singer because I was attending The Blogcademy in Washington, DC (recap coming soon!).  However, I made sure to work in advance with my musical director and choreographer to ensure that we had a plan in place for while I was away, and I made sure to check in with our cast/crew Facebook page and emails as well! I knew that rehearsals would be run extremely well during my absence by my stage management team as well.

It seems like a no-brainer, but that’s the only way theatre works.  Show up, do the work, make it happen!

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