Preparations --
from 2008 textbook :

Part II -- Rehearsals
Chapter 5. Entering the World of the Play
6. Mindset
7. Those Powerful Words
8. These Things We Do
9. This Incredible Place
10. Rhythm

Part III -- Script
11. Analysis, Discovery and Images
12. The Rehearsal Unitlabels
13. Life's Rhythms and the Scoring of the Play
14. The Concept Statement
Assignments & Summary



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Spring 2008
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Stage Directing Theory
Directing Theory: pre-text, text and super-text
The First Rehearsal:

The first rehearsal usually consists of a read through of the play, director’s discussion of his/her vision of the play, design presentation, and discussion of administrative matters.

The Read Through -- A read through is exactly what it sounds like. The actors sit down together for the first time and read through the script from start to finish. As stage manager, it is your duty to make sure that everyone has copies of the scripts, and to time the read through. Timing the read through gives you a general idea of the least amount of time the play will run. As blocking and character development occur throughout the rehearsal process, the show’s run time will increase, but the read through’s run time gives you a ball park figure as to what to expect. You may be expected to read the written stage directions during the read through. Check with the director on this point prior to the beginning of this rehearsal.

Design Presentations -- If the designs are completed by the first rehearsal, there may be a design presentation. This is where designers (usually set and costume) display and explain their designs to the actors. These designs may be changed or modified as the play develops in rehearsal, but the presentation gives the actors a good idea of what the over all visual effect of the play will be.

Administrative Matters -- Administrative matters such as rehearsal schedule, are presented to the actors at the first rehearsal. Actors should be handed hardcopies of all information that they will need. Contact lists, rehearsal schedules, fact sheets, shop hour sheet, and any other information you have prepared should be handed out in packets. Shop hour requirements are also explained to the actors. The necessary number of shop hours required from each actor varies depending on student group and production. The actors should be made aware of the production web page (if one exists) and e-mail list, and that they need to notify you as soon as possible if an unexpected conflict arises with the schedule.

The length of the rehearsal phase of production can vary, but is usually six weeks long. By the time you enter the first rehearsal, you should be very familiar with the script, anticipated rehearsal needs, and organizational structure of environment in which you will be working. It is time to begin the process of transforming the play from a written script into a world of living characters.

... Rehearsals usually begin five weeks prior to the first technical rehearsal. During these 5 weeks companies may rehearse a total of 25 hours per week. The customary breakdown is 4 hours per night, Monday-Friday, and one 5-hour rehearsal on either Saturday or Sunday. On the weekend, either Saturday or Sunday will be free. Rehearsal space is booked in advance with priority givento mainstage productions.

film directing * Spring 2003 Don Juan (I direct and will use the webpages in class, in addition to Hamlet); check Biomechanics (Acting II) * Brecht Theatre Subscribe with Bloglines * diggo [ new ]


The Seven Deadly Sins of Directing
by Scott Crain

Perhaps the first rule of the arts is that artists hate rules. Most of us were originally drawn to the performing arts because we like thinking outside the box; after all, without a pioneer spirit, where would the arts be?

That having been said, however, there is also a very real danger in assuming that the arts should have no rules. The simple fact is that we live in a world fashioned by an orga-nized creator, and everything in life works best when certain guidelines are followed. So, while I’m a huge proponent of “breaking new ground” on stage, there are a few hard and fast rules that I believe every director should follow, not just for the actors’ sake, but for his or her own ultimate good and that of the production as well. What follows is a list of what I consider the seven “deadly sins” of directing, picked up from far wiser directors than myself (and through a lot of personal mistakes):

1) Line readings. At times we may be tempted to say an actor’s line for him or her in a rehearsal, in order to illustrate exactly how we think it should be said. While this may be satisfying to you, it essentially makes the performer feel like a puppet, with the director holding all of the strings. Those lines are not yours (even if you wrote them!), and the moment you start saying the lines for the actors, you are no longer directing, you are dictating.

2) Suggestions between actors. Let actors know at the first rehearsal that there can only be one director, and that they are not to give suggestions to other actors as to how to play their parts. Actors work best when all notes are coming from a single source.

3) Open rehearsals. Allowing spectators to watch rehearsals is asking for trouble. All it takes is a single offhand remark from a family member (i.e., “That other role’s a lot funnier than yours.”) to set an actor back several weeks of rehearsal time in terms of confidence and character development.

4) Carelessness with the actors’ time. Starting late, running overtime (even for a good reason), requiring actors to be at rehearsals at which they aren’t needed, and requiring actors to be at a rehearsal significantly earlier than needed—all demon-strate a lack of planning on your part as well as a lack of consideration for your actors. Their time is important too, and as directors we have to respect it.

5) Scapegoating. Often we’re tempted to blame all of our show’s failings on a single difficult actor. “If only I could have gotten her to work with me, the show would have been a success.” Though this may sound comforting, it’s rarely true. Remember that it is your job to unify the team. Even if there’s a “problem child,” it’s ultimately your responsibility to keep the peace and elicit quality work.

6) Offstage romantic relationships. This may sound juvenile, but theatrical work—particularly youth drama—often puts young single people in emotional situations, which can quickly lead to romance. A wise policy is to not allow actors to date while the production is in progress, to avoid a potential disaster if things don’t work out between Romeo and Juliet.

7) Complaining. There is never enough time, rehearsal, or money—welcome to theatre. Venting your frustration with the lack of resources in front of your cast is simply bad form. In the words of directing guru William Ball, “A professional works with what he is given.” In other words, work miracles with the loaves and two fishes, and perhaps next time you’ll be given more.

You’ll notice that most of the principles above simply boil down to treating your actors with respect and insisting that they do the same with each other—the golden rule in action. This isn’t legalism. In fact, it’s the highest form of freedom—and a principle that Jesus emphasized again and again. The game isn’t made to protect the rules; the rules are made to protect the game. By following these simple guidelines, you can guarantee that your drama team can play inside the lines…while still thinking outside the box.

A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing" by William BallQuite Specific Media Group, Ltd., 260 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10001 Copywright, 1984


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Dodin-Russian Directors

Show Box Score:

Writing: 1-5
Directing: 1-5
Acting: 1-5
Set: 1-5
Costumes: 1-5
Lighting/Sound: 1-5
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Dramatic Economy -- JACQUES COPEAU

The Profession of the Director -- LOUIS JOUVET

A Model for Epic Theater -- BERTOLT BRECHT

An Audience of One -- TYRONE GUTHRIE

[ Directors on Directing: A Source Book of the Modern Theater by Helen Krich Chinoy, Toby Cole; Bobbs-Merrill, 1963 ]

2006: Glass Menagerie, scene 7 midterm

Rehearsal units vs. Dramatic Units

Reherasing for Action, for Character, for Message, themes (see Stage page).


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"There is a kind of classlessness in the theater. The rehearsal pianist, the head carpenter, the stage manager, the star of the show--all are family." --John Kander

"Rehearsals, My Love" or "My Love is Rehearsal" (the title of the book by Anatoly Effros, Soviet Director).

Rehearsals -- the work.

‘Rehearsing’, Peter Brook says, ‘is thinking aloud with others...nothing in a theatre performance is more important than the people of whom it is composed.’

Every director, at heart, wants to be God, or god-like -- to be the ‘maker’, the primary creator; but however inventive, however imaginative, however inspiring a director may be, the creative pulse will always be derived from the people who are on show, whose souls are at stake: the writer and the actor.
About Threads of Time by Peter Brook

‘I put my story down here’, he quotes an African storyteller, ‘so that someone else may take it up another day.’

"There Are No Secrets" by Peter Brook

* Make sure you get your all cast members needed to the space on time. Setting the rehearsal schedule far in advance and providing reminders of each rehearsal 24 hours in advance is a good help. If they still don't show up, have the stage manager call them. If that still doesn't work, give them a stern talking to.

* Call only those cast members necessary. Actors don't like waiting around and doing nothing. If they'll be waiting through many scenes, call them later.

* Organize things so that each person only has to come when they are needed and your cast will stay happier. But remind them that when it gets closer to show time they will all be needed every night without excuses.

* Be nice. Make sure you find ways to direct without being mean or condescending. Actors don't like this.

* Keep order and don't put up with crap. Don't let the actors talk through your direction or get too chatty while work should be done. And having fun while rehearsing is great, but consider how close you are to the performance and how much work there is left to be done. This will usually be a sobering thought.

* If you can let actors go early, do it. Call actors for longer than you think you'll need them and then the treat of getting out early seems like time won. Its better than calling them for shorter times and asking them to stay longer. Actors don't usually like this. Everyone is busy and has lots of work.

* If actors will be waiting around tell them to bring work. If you know of this in advance, inform them so they don't feel there time is being wasted.

Listen to your actors, their intuitions and their ideas. But when push come to shove you are the director and can be as dictatorial as you like.

"THE INVISIBLE ACTOR" BY YOSHI OIDA with Lorna Marshall (Mentheun)
Foreward by Peter Brook

"For me, acting is not about showing my presence," Oida writes, "or displaying my technique. Rather it is about revealing, through acting, 'something else,' something that the audience doesn't encounter in daily life. The actor doesn't demonstrate it. It is not physically visible, but through the engagement of the onlooker's imagination, 'something else' will appear in his or her mind. For this to happen, the audience must not have the slightest awareness of what the actor is doing. They must be able to forget the actor. The actor must disappear."

"When I speak about self-learning'" he says, "I am not talking about an intellectual program of training, rather a general openness and willingness to move onwards. It is responsiveness, not rigidity." Openness is the key to understanding one's inner and outer life, one's physical and mental apparatus; openness is committing oneself to learning and struggling with the complicated techniques needed to become "invisible."

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Dramatic Text and Performance

To return now to ‘staging’ a play, what we have been working on in the workshops and what I spoke about in lecture 3. Staging is not, as Pavis notes,

"the mere physical uttering of a text with the appropriate intonation and ‘seasoning’ so that all can grasp the correct meaning; it is creating contexts of utterance in which the exchanges between verbal and non-verbal elements can take place." (p. 38)
Pavis argues at length (pp. 24-47) that the mise en scène is not the literal staging that has been indicated in various ways by the written text. To view the performance text as a direct equivalent, in performance terms, of the written text on the page, is to ignore the polysemic nature of performance and at the same time to condemn it to irrelevance. Such a proposition, he argues, "would entail disregarding the signifying materiality of verbal and stage signs" (p.26). In response to the catch cries of ‘one must let the text stand for itself, do not interfere’ - that manifestation of the 'anti-theatrical prejudice' [Barisch, 1981] which regards performance as the degradation of the perfect written text - he argues that it simply is not possible to "neutralise the stage so that the text can speak on its own, or be heard without mediation or without distortion."(pp45-6).

Nor is performance the signifier (in its own terms) of exactly the same signified that is indicated by the written text. In this case there would certainly be no purpose in staging a play at all, since absolutely nothing would be gained by it. The mise en scène is not, as Pavis notes, "the reduction or the transformation of text into performance, but rather their confrontation"(p.26). The performance text and mise en scène, as outlined above, are formed from a dialogue between what is said, how it is said, what other sounds are heard, what is shown by various means, what is spatially experienced, and so on. As Vitez puts it,

"theatrical pleasure, for the spectator, resides in the difference between what is said and what is shown …what seems exciting to the spectator springs from the idea that one does not show what is said"

These injunctions to ‘let the text be heard’ also presuppose that there is only one ‘true’ staging of a play which is already present in the written text, and which it is the duty of the production team to extract. This erroneous attitude is particularly strong in relation to performance of canonical works such as Shakespeare and Greek tragedy. The mise en scène of the same text can vary over time and place, that is to say the social and cultural context of the performance. Each mise en scène is a new reading of the dramatic text. "With every new mise en scene, the text is placed in a situation of enunciation according to the new Social Context of its reception, which allows or facilitates a new analysis of the text and so on, ad finitum."(Pavis, 1992, 30)

The concept of mise en scène disrupts and overthrows the idea that the dramatic text is a fixed, stable, finite linguistic object. Every performance is an original restaging of the meaning of the dramatic text, in conjunction with the spectator(s). The point is,

‘that there is no definitive originary meaning, since what the "original" performance meant will itself have been fragmented, and experienced in many different ways’
Godot Theatre UAF06
Most recent production of Beckett (some director's notes)...

[Thomas 1994: 143, quoted in Pearson & Shanks, 2001, 59]"

[ from mise-en-scene page ]

Pygmalion 200?

* GODOT.06: Doing Beckett => main stage Theatre UAF Spring 2006 *

Godot Theatre UAF.06

2006 Random Page: * mailing list : subscribe!
Godot, Vladimir, Theatre UAF06 Galileo by Brecht : Rehearsals [ video clips ] An image of Galileo's household

Why they too aren't exploring sun spots

Galileo's practical experiment

Ludovico comes to warn Galileo

The Pope is dying

Ludovico pleads unsuccessfully with Galileo

Ludovico leaves without seeing Virginia

Virginia arrives in the depths of distress

The fierce protests of his housekeeper

Treatment of scientific equipment * Action as opportunity * Bigger reactions * More reaction * News from Rome * The stakes are raised

[ see Brecht pages ]

2007 An online course supplement * Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations rate
© 2006 by Permission to link to this site is granted.

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