As this blog has demonstrated, I wear a number of hats professionally and in my work in the community. Directing is a vocation close to my heart and one which I identify strongly with. I have long been conflicted over whether to pursue further graduate study and, if so, in what specifically. But if money were no object whatsoever, I would likely get an MFA in Directing– just. because. Directing is among my favorites though, and above all else it is a creative outlet with a mixture of challenge and satisfaction that few other things match for me. I’m in tech this week for a show I’m directing and I’m in that place where things finally seem to have hit a stride, feeling a familiar relief and enjoying increasing excitement over little moments in the show that are just right and other moments that are happening spontaneously as actors have become comfortable enough to rediscover and breathe new life into the scenes.
Recently I got a funny little compliment from one of my performers. She said that I direct like I’m looking at a CAT Scan. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that at first, but as she explained further she did a rather impressive impression of the way I look at scenes spatially when we’re polishing something in rehearsal. Sort of moving around, looking at the total image onstage and then honing in on a bit of space, noticing something out of alignment and pushing an actor a few inches to the right to get the right balance. It was a very sweet thing to say, and I think it alludes to something that really speaks to me as a director– Space.
I remember in college my Directing professor introduced the term “picturization” to me and I found it intensely satisfying– an aha! moment, definitely. Picturization refers to the notion of the Director as Sculptor-for-the-Stage, manipulating the people and objects in the space towards an image that reflects the total concept for the scene. It’s a fairly simple notion– stage the actors (or perhaps better yet, INSPIRE the actors TOWARDS staging themselves) into shapes that reflect the story you wish to tell. I think this is a lot of what I do as a director, finding and refining the pictures onstage– exploring the space and people/objects in it choreographically.
Another metaphor I connect with is Director as Conductor, drawing out the music and rhythms of the play, listening for false notes and tuning the various instruments as necessary towards an ultimately harmonious “sound.” I definitely zero in on transitions with this role in mind– feeling antsy when a blackout is too long and holding my breath through sequences that at their best really take the audience on a journey to the next page of the story seamlessly.A lot of directing is about managing and promoting the rhythms the audience takes in. I think that this is part of what first drew me to lighting as design as well, as I started to explore how the timing of lighting changes played into the timing of the movements and moments onstage.
I’m absolutely the worst critic of my own work, but I find moments of stage that “work” to be an enormous thrill. Most of all I think my directing style is Director as Audience Member. My interest in theatre begins and ends with my love of being an Audience Member, witnessing that which is uniquely theatrical. I direct because I want to see those images and connections that happen on stage in a way that they can’t in any other form.