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Theatre director

From Academic Kids

A theatre director oversees and orchestrates the mounting of a play by unifying various endeavors and aspects of production. The director's function is to ensure the quality and completeness of a theatrical product. The director works with the key individuals and other staff, coordinating research, stagecraft, costume design, props, lighting design, acting, set design and sound design for the production. The director may also work with the playwright on works in progress. In contemporary theatre, the director is generally the primary visionary, making decisions on the artistic concept and interpretation of the text. Different directors occupy different places of authority and responsibility, depending on the structure and philosophy of individual theatre companies. Directors utilize a wide variety of techniques, philosophies, and levels of collaboration.

The director, as a position in and of itself, is a relatively new innovation in the history of theatre, with the first examples appearing in the late 1800s and widespread popularity only being achieved in the early part of the 20th century. Prior to that, it seems that actors or the playwright were responsible for presenting the show and coordinating efforts. Though some individual productions and groups still operate without a specified director, the director is now considered a vital figure in the creation of a theatrical performance.

Once a show has opened (premiered before a regular audience), theatre directors are generally considered to have fulfilled their function. From that point forward the stage manager is left in charge of all essential concerns.

Styles of directing

Directing is an artform that has grown with the development of theatre theory and theatre practice. With the emergence of new trends in theatre, so to have directors adopted new methodologies and engaged in new practices. Generally speaking, directors adopt a style of directing that falls into one or more of the following categories:

The dictator
In this style of directing, the director has a stongly assertive role and is very dominant in the process of creating a theatrical work. Rehearsals are more or less fully controlled and predictable, with the actors having little or no say.
The negotiator
'The negotiator' is a style of direction in which the director focuses on a more improvised and mediated form of rehearsal and creation, using the ideas of the production team and actors to shape a theatrical work in quite a democratic style.
The creative artist
The director sees himself or herself as as a creative artist working with the 'materials' of dramatic creativity, be they the actors, designers and production team. The "creative artist" wants input from the actors but, as artist, has final say over what is included and how ideas are incorporated.
The confrontationalist
In this style of directing, the director is in constant dialogue and debate with the cast and the production team about creative decisions and interpretations. The director seeks out and actively engages in such exchanges. Out of these exchanges, which can sometimes be heated or risky, comes a final contested product.

Many contemporary directors use a creative amalgam of styles, depending on the genre of the theatrical work, the nature of the project and the type of cast.

See also

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