2008 -- R/G are Dead (concept pages)

Take it literaly -- directions! Directions for spectator, actor, designer... Take it from the dramatic text and keep writing more "stage directions"! * The Images (The BM Album) are still not all in place! [new from vTheatre -- GeoAlaska, links to my graphic files are in the list minipages]

The truth is that there is no one accepted method for directing, any more than there is for any other art. How a director fares is greatly dependent on who that person is, his collaborators, and the project at hand. To complicate matters, the relationship between product and process isnt't always a direct and causal one. Some directors work themselves to the bone, while others do very little. Paradoxically, they achieve successes and failures in both categories. But it would be naive not to believe that most successful productions occur because of the intensive efforts of a skilled director. -Michael Bloom


Script Analysis Directory & DramLit
Featured Pages: Film Directing

Meyerhold @ Work *

Meyer sum


Play Analysis

1. First impressions: notes of reactions to play on initial reading, including images, colors, etc.

2. Research: Summarize the most important insights you have gained from your research into your play. Discuss specifically how your research findings will influence your interpretation and/or production of the play. List sources consulted (in bibliographic form).

3. One-sentence statement of action (root action/significant action).

4. Structural Analysis: identify and briefly discuss inciting incident, each major complication (in order), major crisis (turning point), major structural climax, major emotional climax, resolution. Give enough detail in your analysis so that the reader can identify the point in the play that you are talking about and why you consider this the inciting incident, etc. For complications, note the effect of the complication on the action.

5. Brief discussion of theme. State theme clearly and support your choice of theme with evidence from the play.

6. Brief discussion of style of the play. What choices are you making about style for your production? Why?

7. Spine of the play--identify and discuss briefly.

8. Character Analysis--Biography.

9. Motivational Units: Break your scene into motivational units and number/name the units. Present this portion of the analysis in promptbook format, with starting and ending points of each unit marked; unit analysis should be on page facing page of text.

10. Discuss any particular directorial problems posed by the play and the scene.

NOTES: biblio, references & ect.


Evaluation of Directing:
Play/Production: _______
Director's Name:


Visual Elements:



Names of Principle Actors and Characters:

Supporting Actors & Characters:

Evaluating the Designs:
Scene Designer/Set:


Of course, I do not have this long list in front of me when I think about directing -- it's has to be in your blood. This is hwat training and experience are for.


Film Directing class

Stanislavsky and Meyerhold (Stage and Screen Studies, V. 3) 3906769798

Homework: Hamlet and Oedipus conceptualization.

Metteur-en-scene: A French term for the individual, most often the director, responsible for creating the mise-en-scene of a film – that is, for putting everything into the image – and also for editing the film. The term is used pejoratively by French critics [in the 1950’s and early 60’s] for directors who simply carry out orders in making a film and do not impose their own personal vision, hence failing to be an auteur. [The value of personal vision has been criticised as not recognising the intensely collaborative nature of film making. The term metteur-en-scene used, these days, is more functional drawing attention to the construction or crafting of a scene rather than the artistic aims. They are, of course, not mutually exclusive.]

Script Analysis

Theatre Books Master Page *

The Directorial Image: The Play and the Director by Frank McMullan; Shoe String Press, 1962 - 1: Creativity and the Director - 2: Dramatic Communication and Response - 3: Nature and Pattern of Drama - 4: Potentials of Dramatic Values - 5: Points of Focus - Directorial Image

Tyrone Guthrie ("A Life in the Theatre"): "The meaning of any work of art is subjective. It is not what the author thinks it means. If the objective meaning of a work of art were known, there would be no point in its existence. It exists merely to suggest many ways in which an undefined truth may be approached. Every interpretation is subjective. Some will be nearer to objective truth than others, but not on that account necessarily more interesting than others." (5)

The Fable : After the first probing moves toward defining their own position versus the text, the students will tackle a central aspect of their preliminary work: extracting and writing a first draft of the "fable" from the chosen play. What is a "fable"? It is foremost a tool, instrumental in the development and implementation of a production concept. In a nutshell, the fable is the plot, or story line, of a play seen through the temperament, the vision, or rather the bias of the director and told in terms of such bias. It defines the sequence of events to be presented in performance as a more or less coherent narrative that will serve quite like a chart or blueprint for the intended production. "Fable is a concept -- and a term -- evolved by Brecht in his experimental work as director and playwright. [Master Teachers of Theatre: Observations on Teaching Theatre by Nine American Masters 136]

* Storyboard : After scene analysis and research findings have been presented and discussed in class, the directors should begin rehearsal with actors. They should also now think about the physical production of their chosen play and develop concrete ideas for its design. However poor their drawing talents, they ought to put these ideas on paper. Starting with a floor plan, based on the fable and its requirements, with attention to all results of their research, they will proceed to rough sketches of scenery and costumes. All such drawings will be shown in class for discussion and evaluation. [ 140 ]

* Rehearsals

* Gestus The concept of "gestug" should have been investigated and applied during the work on these selected scenes. "Gestus," the Latin word for a person's bearing or carriage, was already used in the eighteenth century (by Lessing, for example) to signify the individualized expression or "quality" an actor brings to his roles. Early in our century, Meyerhold explored the idea further; evolving a clear physical language of the body to express a character's specific emotions and state of mind -- he used the term "social mask" in this context. Brecht then developed the concept in its present understanding. In his definition, "gestus" is the result an actor achieves by his use of his body and its carriage, his movements and gestures, his voice in its specific inflections and speech patterns; in short, by the total ensemble of all means of mimetic presentation that include costume, makeup, and other exterior tools contributing to the specific "image" or "character" the actor creates. [ ]

[ Thesis Project ]

[ The Roles of the Director ]

... the director is the great eclectic among creative artists. He is a scavenger in the kingdom of the arts, voraciously plundering the riches of all other arts, creating original works out of the loot. He weaves tales from texts, images, and memories; from observation of his contemporaries and investigation of many a sociohistorical environment; from words, colors, forms, and sounds; from the arts of the past and the present, creating games played out in space and time.With all their eclectic creativity, directors need a definite point of view, a firm ground to stand on, a clear perspective of the world and their own position in it. They have to realize the directors' function in contemporary society and its theatre, their relation to co-workers and audience. If that realization is lacking, the director's work has slim chance to achieve true impact or success. Awareness of this need is probably a goal more important than any specialized skill, it is an understanding that can be defined and nurtured.I believe the education of young directors has to stimulate, guide, and challenge their growth in four areas:
-- The director as a storyteller
-- The director as a skillful scavenger of the arts
-- The director as the leader of a team
-- The director as a manipulator of audiences
[ 156 ]

The "master metaphor": "The primacy of the play establishes the principle that play interpretation, the "what" and "why" of play production, is the creative basis for the "how." (Directorial Image viii)
WHY do you want to direct it?


for AD and dramaturg:

2006 Mamet Oleanna process

2007 directing class/group + 2008


Directing & Concept

We dream to plan...
some history:

Ancient Greek: The "choregus" (head of the chorus) often directed / coordinated song and movement. Playwrights probably staged the plays, and probably cast them, little known to understand if they "unified" the production.

Roman: a wealthy citizen organized the show.

Medieval: the "master of secrets" – a special effects expert (and there were many special effects in the medieval theatre). "Keeper of the register" - the "register" was a master copy of the script – a "guild" (group of craftsmen) could hold on to the register and pass it on from generation to generation.

Owner... All were primarily managerial skill, rather than artistic…

With the rise of professional acting companies (during and after Shakespeare’s time – came the "actor / manager"

by 1900s the term "director" was in wide-spread use and the primacy of director became clear – directors placed themselves at the center of production… After World War II, the term "auteur director" developed (Meyerhold, in Russia). Latest -- New eclectics – Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999), Peter Brook, Richard Schechner.

Designer: his task to organize the space to make it workable for the actors.
Film-North: Concept Page

Cameron & Gillespie: "idea blatant in none, but subtle in all."
[ 200x Aesthetics & Aristotle ]

Artistic Functions

Script selection : Professional directors either approve of scripts or are "matched"—by the producer(s). But most try to do the things they like best. Non-professionals – do what they like, usually – doing what they dislike might ruin the production, this is why they are not professionals.
Idea and spectacle (200x Hard Core Aesthetics) are the most common elements to excite directors.
Must learn to know what you do best, and improve on others.

The "master metaphor" – or "directorial concept" – (64) -- a concept or directorial image – To sort out the random ideas into a pattern of sorts – draw connections, give theatrical life to those that seem possible.

* Concept implies rational and thoughtful. Because art is too emotional.

* Image implies picturemaking.

Must be a combination of both. Wilson, in The Theatre Experience, 6th edition, 138, suggests using the following as ideas/ jumping-off points:
Central / controlling image / metaphor
Concept / purpose:

Alan Schneider called it the "directional conception." Zelda Fichandler of the Arena Stage refers to the Russian term, "zamissel," or pervading thought.

Harold Clurman (1901-1980) – critic and director – look for the "spine" of the play – the "throughline" -- the "main action" -- a general action that "motivates the play" – the fundamental drama or conflict. (64)) Stanislavsky referred to the superobjective.

Analysis of the script—to help director "understand" the play – to make director’s consciousness capable of staging the play. a. Depends on your point of view about directing:

(from Cameron and Gillespie):
The worshipful vs. heretical approach to the script:

On a continuum

-- Worshipful approach: Director’s job is NOT to create theatre, but to cause the script / play to create exciting theatre.

Can become boring and empty (letting the text do the work), or it can thrill us with the brilliance of getting the text’s strong points across.

-- Heretical approach: Director’s job is to interpret the text in order to make a theatrical entity of the entire production for the audience.

--to make good theatre exciting.

--director’s responsibility is to the MEANING of the performance, of which the script is only a part.

Historical precedent: classic plays becoming opera,

"Bowdlerizing" a play -- refers to deleting or changing parts of a scrpt, removing sociallly "unacceptable" or sexually "offensive" parts of the script (from Thomas Bowdler, who published the "Family Shakespeare," with sexual innuendo and reference left out, and turning sad endings into happy ones).

Can lead to offensive or meaningless productions, or innovative and truly exciting ones.

Analysis and interpretation of the script would also include.

The pattern of the play – its major elements -- structure.

How do the characters function in the play?
What are the demands on the actor?
What are the technical demands / requirements? -- sound, lights, costume, sets?
The context of the play (often this is a factor)
Biography of the playwright’s life
Playwright’s canon of work (other stuff)
Period play written
Period play takes place
Critical response to play and earlier productions
Old plays are often updated, new plays often need a different combination of techniques.

Tone and impact of the play
The play’s intended effects – director’s ideas can be placed on them.
Relative importance of elements
Which elements are the most important?
Pick elements that the script gives theatrical life to.
Spectacle and sound can be most clearly manipulated – can add to play.
Character, idea, story usually integral to the play itself.

Director interprets and helps actors achieve characterization clearly. If a play of poetic language, must pay attention to.

If play of character directed as play of plot, has long stretches where nothing seems to be happening, boring (Three Sisters).

Where in the play are the highs and lows of each?

How to give theatrical excitement to each?

Brief History of Design


Greek - scenic devices used - masks and costumes - the "machina"- for the "deus ex machina" - but little is known of designers.

Medieval theatre - scenic elements and costume important - often a "master of secrets" (usually machinists, guildsmen) - some intricate effects - such as the Hellmouth - but little concept of artistic unity

Renaissance - theatre buildings constructed for the first time since the Roman Empire - single-point perspective in Italy -- designer becomes essential
Sabastiano Serlio (16th century) - 3-dimensional scenery
Joseph Furttenbach (17th century) - quick scene changes, painted drops, and flats
Elizabethan - Inigo Jones (274) brought Italianate staging ideas to England - by the 17th century (1600's), design was a high art and designers considered as artists.

Costumes - still little regard for artistic unity, though could be lavish -- often actors supplied own costume.
1750-1900 - costume becomes more specific, along with scenery and lighting.
David Garrick hired Phillippe de Loutherbourg - a scenic designer -- to unify with representations of real places.
The Romantic era brought much more specificity, and led the way for realism, though Romantic theatre was not at all realistic.
With the use of Gaslight in 1830 in Philadelphia and by mid 19th though Romantic theatre was not at all realistic.
In the 20th century, with electric light, from painting to architecture, from two- to three- dimensional cubes, from realism to symbolism and "selective realism," arena stages in the 1950's (though they appeared much earlier in the medieval period), thrust stages in the 60's, stage design has become more diverse - but still attempts to unify a production.

Factors of Design

Physical Aspects of Scene Design:
1. Line
2. Mass
3. Composition
4. Texture
5. Color

Designers at Work

Scene Designer - must consider:
number of settings (one "unit set" (332) which is designed to remain the same throughout the production [with minor changes in background, set props, etc.], but which can represent various locales; or different sets to be changed during the production)
shape and size of the house - sightlines
how scenery will be shifted
Rigged to "fly" from the fly loft (80), elevators,turntables, tracks and wheels

Materials of set designers:

Traditional "flats" (107)- 1 x 3 " wood frame covered with muslin (a rough cotton fabric) and then painted - can look like walls or other solid structures, yet very lightweight.

Platforms and parallels (collapsible platforms) are also common (note: see images when you click on "flats" above...)

Wood, plastic, and metal, etc. are becoming more widespread.

Cyclorama - (79) U-shaped back of stage, for sky or background.

special effects

scrims (107-108) (-- our production of The Night of the Iguana used a number of scrims )

"flying" set pieces from the "fly-loft" (80)

"wagons," "treadmills" (106)

historical accuracy, if necessary

budget and schedule

The Process of Set Design:

Renderings - loose free-hand drawings of early impressions.

Ground-plan - a bird's eye view.

Three-dimensional models.

Thumb-nail sketches.

Elevations (scale drawings).

Instructions for building:

Technical director oversees construction.

The scene designer also often does the Properties (Props) that are not part of the regular scenery, handled by actors (canes, furniture [handled], letters, etc.)

Props are usually:
designed and built or
bought or rented

The Costume Designer
Costume Designer's Objectives:
1. Help establish tone and style of the production
2. Indicate the historical period of a play and the local in which it is set
3. Indicate the nature of individual characters or groups in a play: their stations in life, their occupations, their personalities
4. Show relationships among characters: separate major characters from minor ones, contrast one group with another
5. Meet the needs of individual performers: make it possible for an actor or actress to move freely in a costume; allow a perforemer to dance or engage in a sword fight, for instance; when necessary, allow performers to change quickly from one costume to another.
6. Be consistent with the production as a whole, especially with the other visual elements

costumes are often rented or bought ("pulling costumes"), built from scratch, rebuilt, or borrowed.

-clothes must be "right" for the character.

-comfortable to actor (within reason) and usable.

-aesthetically pleasing - can make a big difference to actor's character.

Designer must analyze:
Given circumstances - sex, age, health, social class, focal importance

Shape - silhouette (outline) pleasing.

Movement of costume.

Texture and draping.

Enhancement or suppression of body lines (different periods have different styles: pushed up busoms of the French Empire, flattened busoms of the 1920's, codpieces in medieval and Elizabethan, togas in Rome).

Individual actors - long necks, skinny arms, etc.

Costume shop foreperson executes the designs.

Costume designer's resources:
1. Line, shape, and silhouette
2. Color
3. fabric
4. Accessories

Makeup (117), hairstyles, and masks -- all related to costumes.

face-mask * I collect images before I cast. The way you see your main characters affects the casting. I look for a style in "faces" -- it gives me a sense how to direct the cast, how to make it into an emsemble...

The Lighting Designer

[ Lighting not an important factor in design till 1830's with limelight, but even then needed sharper control. Electricity was the key ]

to imitate natural effects

to enhance: change shape, mood and tone

Now high-tech, computerized

Objectives of Stage Lighting:
1. Provide visibility -- let the performers and other elements be seen
2. Help establish time and place
3. Help create mood and tone
4. Reinforce the style of the production
5. Provide focus onstage and create visual compositions
6. Establish rhythm of visual movement

Lighting instruments - the term used to refer to the units that deliver the light (including the housing and the light bulb, or lamp).

The lighting designer can influence only five things in lighting: Color, direction/distribution, intensity, form, movement

1. color - changed by using gels -- colored pieces of plastic (heat resistant - the only color light that will get through is the color of the gel)
mixing of colors -- warm lights (amber, straw, gold) with cool colors (blue, blue-green, lavender) can produce depth and naturalness

2. direction / distribution - can be up to 150 lights in a production

3. intensity - brightness -- controlling the amount of current to instrument - "dimmers" control that amount

4. form -- the shape of the light

5. movement -- alterations in the other factors will give impression of movement - this would also include the movement of a "follow-spot" (powerful spotlight as that swivel and shine on different places).
fades, cross-fades, blackouts can suggest movement and form


a. spotlights: ellipsoidal reflectors - long distances, sharp and clear
b. fresnels (pronounced "fruh-nel'" - named after Frenchman Fresnel who designed a "step lens" - the lens had less and more even mass, so it would heat evenly, avoiding the problem of regular convex lenses heating uneavenly and thus cracking - "fill" light - diffused, to "wash" or "blend."
c. striplights, footlights: footlights used very little these days, but strip lights used to add "fill" light.
d. flood lights: no lens, no color - for a "flood" of light

Sound Design
Sound design has always been used in some way (rolling cannonballs for sound of thunder), but with modern technology, more precise sounds are possible.

Reproduction -- the use of motivated (called for by the script) and environmental (help create more illusion of reality) sounds
includes sound effects...
Reinforcement -- the use of amplification

Modern practice of "mic'ing", sound effects, background music - further technology (some discussed on 138) and expertise may increase sound capabilities, as it appears to be one of the hardest to control.

History of Lighting Design *


Oedipus-Antigone Analysis of the concept "Oedipus -- Antigone" thought (left).

When I say do not think about text, actors, stage separately, I do not mean directing everything at once. On the contrary, you direct "lyaer by layer" -- script and actors (characters), genre and staging, themes and light and etc. You are a builder, not a magician; you have to fix one thing at the time.


Another aspect of the director's concept is purpose. In the chapter on criticism we looked at the various purposes that playwrights and screenwriters might have when they create their scripts. While the director must be aware of these purposes, he is not obligated to promote them. This is particularly true when it comes to reviving older plays and classics. In fact, a common rule of thumb is that the older a play, the greater the latitude for changing not only the purpose, but other elements as well. One example might be Zola's nineteenth century novel, Les Misérables, which was adapted as a musical in 1985. Zola's purpose in writing this book was to expose the dehumanizing living conditions suffered by the poor of France in the 1800s. The dramatized version had to find another purpose since the original "problem" of the piece had been solved. However, directors may not change the lines of copyrighted material without the permission of the playwright or his heirs. Only material in the public domain (50 years after the author's death) may be altered. Even so, it is considered bad form to make such changes, especially in regard to classics like Shakespeare. When textual changes are made in Shakespeare's works, they are cuts and rearrangement of scenes, never rewriting of speeches. On the other hand, when plays are translated from another language into English, words that are dated can be modernized to assist the audience in understanding them. [ * ]
Next: part 4
Meyerhold-Stepanova - read 200x I do not teach Aesthetics 200x (no time), but recommend to read ART subdirectory (Notes); without "visualization" you can't get from "page to stage." We ask "physicalization" from actor -- we have to help them as much as we can (set, sound, light, costumes, makeup & ect.)

We have free actors to act -- and therefore to "block" and "fix" many extra-directions (to hide and cut). Directing is limiting the unlimiting (non-organized) imagination. Concept is your tragectory (your story); NEW STORY!

From an idea to show -- what a travel! Survival is the name... How much can I get (bring and give to public) at the end (spectacle)?

@2004-2005- film-north *



In the theatre, most of a director's time is devoted to rehearsal. The French word for rehearsal is répéticion, which describes much of what goes on. What happens specifically during a rehearsal will depend on the nature of the play and the personal style of the director. Sometimes the actors are allowed plenty of time and freedom to explore and experiment with their characters. Indeed, one of the most important duties of a director is to maintain a "safe" environment during rehearsals in which actors feel free to take risks in the creation of their characters. On other occasions the director might give the actors very specific blocking and other instructions at the first rehearsal. Actors are usually given a deadline by which time they are expected to be off book--having learned their lines and blocking. Plays are usually rehearsed in small fragments at first. There is much stopping and starting, discussion, and repetition. Then, as these individual sections begin to take shape, they are combined and rehearsed as full scenes. Near the end of the rehearsal period, the scenes are combined for uninterrupted run-throughs of complete acts. At this point the director is more likely to give notes to the actors at the completion of scenes or acts rather than by interrupting them in progress. In the case of musicals, separate rehearsals are conducted by choreographers and music directors. Finally, the director begins to shape the entire piece by focusing on such overall elements as pace, tempo, and rhythm.

The last step in preparing a play is the introduction of the design elements during technical rehearsals. While there are variations in practice depending upon the play, theatre, and level of production, the following pattern is fairly typical. The first tech usually involves adding the actual scenery and props that will be used. In the case of a multi-set show, this will include coordinating the changing of scenery with the movements of the actors. The second tech adds the lighting and sound cues. The third and fourth techs involve adding costumes and make up and are called dress rehearsals. Finally, a test or preview audience is admitted in order to make final adjustments based on their reactions. At this point, the director's contractual obligations normally end. Although in the case of long-run shows the director may be required to check back periodically to ensure the integrity of the piece--that actors are not making gratuitous changes.

In television, especially episodic dramas and sitcoms, rehearsals are much shorter. For example, the television series Homicide: Life on the Streets, was filmed on location in Baltimore. Often different directors are hired for each episode. A director for Homicide was on the job for only fourteen days: seven days of pre-production planning, and seven twelve-hour days of shooting. They had no "real" rehearsals at all, only walk-throughs with the camera. This is possible for three reasons: the lead actors have already created their characters and relationships, many of the sets are the same, and the script itself is shorter than a play. To finish on schedule they must shoot six to eight pages per day as compared to from two to three pages which is common in film. In film, rehearsals are held in piecemeal fashion because the shooting takes place over several months in many different locations. In both film and television, actors need less time to learn their lines since each shot is only a short piece of the script. Actors have time between set-ups to study their next lines. http://homepage.mac.com/roberthuber/school/1delec10.html

Homework (2006): your reading/concept of Glass Menagerie


THE WINGFIELD APARTMENT is in the rear of the building, one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of lower middle-class population and are symptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society to avoid fluidity and differentiation and to exist and function as one interfused mass of automatism. The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. The fire-escape is included in the set--that is, the landing of it and steps descending from it.

The scene is memory and is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart. The interior is therefore rather dim and poetic.

At the rise of the curtain, the audience is faced with the dark, grim rear wall of the Wingfield tenement. This building, which runs parallel to the footlights, is flanked on both sides by dark, narrow alleys which run into murky canyons of tangled clotheslines, garbage cans and the sinister lattice-work of neighboring fire-escapes. It is up and down these side alleys that exterior entrances and exits are made, during the play. At the end of TOM'S opening commentary, the dark tenement wall slowly reveals (by means of a transparency) the interior of the ground floor Wingfield apartment.

Downstage is the living room, which also serves as a sleeping room for LAURA, the sofa unfolding to make her bed. Upstage, center, and divided by a wide arch or second proscenium with transparent faded portieres (or second curtain), is the dining room. In an old-fashioned what-not in the living room are seen scores of transparent glass animals. A blown-up photograph of the father hangs on the wall of the living room, facing the audience, to the left of the archway. It is the face of a very handsome young man in a doughboy's First World War cap. He is gallantly smiling, ineluctably smiling, as if to say, "I will be smiling forever."

The audience hears and sees the opening scene in the dining room through both the transparent fourth wall of the building and the transparent gauze portieres of the dining-room arch. It is during this revealing scene that the fourth wall slowly ascends, out of sight. This transparent exterior wall is not brought down again until the very end of the play, during TOM'S final speech.

The narrator is an undisguised convention of the play. He takes whatever license with dramatic convention as is convenient to his purposes.

TOM enters dressed as a merchant sailor from alley, stage left, and strolls across the front of the stage to the fire-escape. There he stops and lights a cigarette. He addresses the audience.

TOM. Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. [...]
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