How to deal with the Directors During Acting Rehearsal

Should be superhuman but usually isn’t. We live in an age of ‘director’s theatre’, where some directors impose a very distinctive interpretation or style on a play, sometimes with an interesting and fresh result, at other times swamping it with pretentious and unnecessary contrivances. The director’s principal job is first, to interpret the play or screenplay as the writer means it; next, to organize the physical needs of the production, the mise-en-scene, costumes, lighting, sound, and to some degree the physical choreography of movement. He or she will work with the actors to make the best use of the acting space so that the audience is given a series of interesting visual images which support and enhance the meaning and moods of the piece. In the case of a naturalistic play with a small cast the director should allow the actors as far as possible to evolve their own moves, which will emerge from their relationships as dramatic characters. A large-scale show, a musical, a big cast epic or classic will need quite a lot of organization – a crowd scene would become meaningless chaos if the director did not define clearly, who is where, and what they are doing.

directors during acting

Whilst the director should possess these necessary skills, his or her most important job is to help the actors in their search for a performance, for a character and relationships; to encourage them to be bold, to restrain them gently when they’re on the wrong track, to illuminate the text for them when they’re stuck, to create good relationships between them as actors. In short, to create an atmosphere of interest and excitement in which the actor feels creative but secure.

The screen director, whether for film or television, is in technical matters much more the boss, requiring the actor to use physical dimensions and space with meticulous accuracy, and to deliver a contained performance which is always thought through, sometimes over many months. Working for the camera is for the experienced actor. He or she must be well cast in terms of appearance, speech, personality and temperament. It is the job of the casting director to match the actor to the part and to present the director with a package of actors who have the technical and artistic skills to cope easily with the medium.

The actor must aim for a friendly and confident relationship with the director, accepting his or her advice and technical guidance whilst at the same time taking initiatives and being responsible for his own performance. Actor and director must agree before starting rehearsals about the general outline of the role and the character’s part in the dramatic action, which doesn’t, however, close the door to discoveries and revelations as rehearsal progresses. A play or screenplay melts when filtered through the imagination of the actors and their relationship with each other. A wise director watches these developments and helps the actor to select from the number of options open to him. Much of the time, actors need each other more than they need the director; they are exchanging feelings and emotions, and the director is merely there to encourage or advice on matters of dramatic emphasis – ‘that line a little louder’; ‘isn’t he perhaps more dejected when she tells him the marriage is off?’ He must always be prepared to explain simply the reason for a piece of direction, and the actor should always ask for explanation if he or she doesn’t fully understand. But remember that rehearsing a play is a process of making discoveries, of rummaging in the subconscious mind, of evolving relationships. It isn’t a matter of merely making a series of rational decisions, but of subtly altering performances in twenty different ways, of selecting, refining, and developing. So nineteen out of twenty rehearsals are slightly wrong as the actor probes the text and draws up thoughts and feelings from his own experience. The actor must get on with it, and not get drawn in to long and fruitless discussions; it’s better to work a scene half a dozen times than to talk about it for an hour.

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment


About the Author: Cody Riffel is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo. She likes to write on variety of topics, whatever interests her. She also likes to share what she learns over the Internet and her day-to-day life.

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