So What Does A Director Actually Do?...

Director Sandra Cheesman

During our last production of Spine I was asked a few times what the role of the Director is.  The answer is that it can vary from company to company, but in The Green Room Productions it goes something like this:

As the Director, when I read a great play it captures my imagination.  Usually the story visually unfolds in my head and if I can see it working well on our stage I will decide to produce it. 

The next step is to cast the play.  The Green Room Productions has a pool of very talented actors so I will try to cast from them.  If this isn't possible then I will hold auditions to find other actors to suit the roles.

I then work out how to bring my initial visual images to life.  What style of set is needed? What era of costume? How will I stage it? What do I want to bring out of each of the characters? If it's a complicated play with a larger cast, or requires a lot of movement, I will block it (this involves the precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage).

When rehearsals start it is my job to work with the cast in order to bring the play from the page to the stage. The first rehearsal is usually an in-depth character discussion where we dissect the script to uncover what the playwright has told us about the character/s.  We will also have a read through of the whole play. 

At every rehearsal thereafter we work through page by page, developing the play and building the characters.  Spine in particular needed a lot of direction, as it was an 80 minute piece with just one young actress (Beatrice)and it was very dialogue driven. Rehearsals were spent helping Bea establish the different characters she had to portray, helping her visually and vocally bring the story to life.  We had to ensure that her descriptions and movements made the story flow and would enable our audience to visualise the various places and the different characters.  One evening we spent an entire rehearsal working on a 2 minute segment of the script! We might go over the same sentence again and again if something doesn’t sound quite right.  

The relationship between a Director and the cast is one of trust and respect. I believe I am a very 'hands on' Director, and I know I work the cast hard… but we also have great fun in the process!  There are very few rehearsals that go by without a lot of laughter, no matter what play we are working on.

In addition to working closely with the cast, I am also working on the bigger production outside of rehearsals.  This involves liaising with our sound designer on the soundscape, designing the lighting plot, working with the set developer on how we can achieve my set ideas, sourcing props, etc.  The list is endless!  

Being a Director involves complete commitment in any play.  But on the opening night I finally have a chance to release our creation and can hand the play over to the Stage Manager.  Then I take my seat amongst the audience, sit back (albeit nervously!) and enjoy the fruits of our labours.

If you have a theatrical question please get in touch in the comments section below or email us and we will make it the subject of our next blog.