A theatre director or stage director is a practitioner in the
theatrefield who oversees and orchestrates the mounting of a theatre production (a play, an opera, a musical, or a devised piece of work) by unifying various endeavours and aspects of production. The director's function is to ensure the quality and completeness of theatre production and to lead the members of the creative team into realizing their artistic vision for it. The director therefore collaborates with a team of creative individuals and other staff, coordinating research, stagecraft, costume design, props, lighting design, acting, set designand sound designfor the production. If the production he or she is mounting is a new piece of writing or a (new) translation of a play, the director may also work with the playwrightor translator. In contemporary theatre, the director is generally the primary visionary, making decisions on the artistic concept and interpretation of the text and its staging. 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 in theatre history
ancient Greece, the birthplace of European drama, the writerbore principal responsibility for the staging of his plays. Actors would generally be semi-professionals, and the playwright-director oversaw the mounting of plays from the writing process all the way through to their performances, often - as was the case for Aeschylosfor instance - also acting in them. He would also train the chorus, sometimes compose the music and supervise every aspect of production. The term applied to him, "didaskalos", the Greek word for "teacher," is indicative of how these early directors had to combine instruction of their performers to staging their work. [Brocket, Oscar G.: "History of the Theatre". 8th ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1999, p. 24]
". According to Fouquet, the director's tasks included overseeing the erecting of a stage and scenery (there were no permanent, purpose-built theatre structures at this time, and performances of vernacular drama mostly took place in the open air), casting and directing the actors (which included fining them for those that infringed rules), and addressing the audience at the beginning of each performance and after each intermission. [Brocket, "op.cit.", p. 96]
Renaissancetimes up until the 19th century, the role of director was often carried by the so-called "actor-manager". This would usually be a senior actor in a troupe who took the responsibility for chosing the repertoire of work, staging it and managing the company. This was the case for instance with Commedia dell'Artecompanies and English actor-managers like Colley Cibberand David Garrick.
and similarly emancipate the role of the director as artistic visionary.
The French regisseur is also sometimes used to mean a stage director. This is most common in
ballet. A more common term for theatre director in French is metteur en scène.
World War Two, the actor-manager slowly started to disappear, and directing become a fully fledged artistic activity within the theatre profession. The director originating artistic vision and concept, and realizing the staging of a production became norm rather than exception. Great forces in the emancipation of theatre directing as profession were notable 20th century theatre directors like Peter Brook, Peter Hall (Britain), Bertolt Brecht(Germany) and Giorgio Strehler(Italy).
A cautionary note was introduced by famed director Sir
Tyrone Guthriewho said "the only way to learn how to direct a play, is ... to get a group of actors simple enough to allow you to let you direct them, and direct."
Well-known theatre directors
Anne Bogart(United States)
Peter Brook(British, mostly working in France)
Richard Foreman(United States)
* Peter Hall (Britain)
Elia Kazan(United States)
David Mamet(United States)
Vsevolod Meyerhold(Soviet Union)
Mike Nichols(United States)
Alan Schneider(United States)
Peter Sellars(United States)
Julie Taymor(United States)
* Robert Wilson (United States)
Mary Zimmerman(United States)
Because of the relatively late emergence of theatre directing as a
performing artsprofession when compared to for instance actingor musicianship, a rise of professional vocational training programmes in directing can be seen mostly in the second half of the 20th century. Most European countries nowadays know some form of professional directing training, usually at drama schools or conservatoires, or at universities. In Britain, the tradition that theatre directors emerge from degree courses (usually in English literature) at the Oxbridgeuniversities has meant that for a long time, professional vocational training did not take place at drama schools or performing arts colleges, although an increase in training programmes for theatre directors can be witnessed since the 1970s and 1980s.
As with many other professions in the performing arts, theatre directors would often learn their skills "on the job"; to this purpose, theatres often employ trainee assistant directors or have in-house education schemes to train young theatre directors. Examples are the
Royal National Theatrein London, that frequently organizes short directing courses, or the Donmar Warehouseon London's West End, that employs resident assistant directors on a one-year basis for training purposes.
Drama schools that offer professional vocational training in theatre directing include:
Drama Studio London, Rose Bruford College, Central Saint Martins, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Mountview, Birkbeck, Central School of Speech and Drama
Belgium: RITS, part of Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel, Brussels
Netherlands: Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Amsterdam
tyles 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 too 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 strongly 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 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
dialogueand debatewith 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
genreof the theatrical work, the nature of the project and the type of cast.
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.
List of theatre directors
List of opera directors
* Film director
Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers(SSDC)
* [http://www.insted.eu INSTED: International Network for Students in Theatre Directing]
* [http://www.oldandsold.com/articles25/play-directing-11.shtml Working with amateurs]
* [http://www.danillitphil.com/base.html Theatre directing, Chapter 11]
* [http://direct.vtheatre.net/title.html Stage Matrix]
* [http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:JsK9BXxHUUQJ:www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-06/993670287.Sh.r.html+invention+electric+light "Who invented the electric light dimmer switch?"]
* [http://www.brainyhistory.com/topics/e/electric.html electric light timeline, Edison, and arc light use in theatres in 1879]
* [http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-06/993670287.Sh.r.html Invention of electric dimmers by Granville Woods]
* [http://www.ssdc.org Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers]
* [http://www.ignitehasablog.com Directing & Theatre Blog with helpful advice]
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