Being a Director: A Life in Theatre
Cutting is hands on — from managing the staff, to directing plays, to making sure the theatre meets health and safety guidelines. Reflecting on the day-to-day tasks he now undertakes, he says: "I haven't been trained for any of this, that's the weird thing — and life has become so much more complex.
When we first started, you created a show, you chucked it in the back of the van and off you went. Now you have to have policies on everything, emergency strategies and aims and objectives — and there are times when that can become tiresome. What never becomes tiresome is the thrill of the first night of a new show.
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Despite his longevity in the role of director, Cutting says he never becomes complacent and never once thinks, "this is going to be good" as the theatre fills up. Because if you're not disappointed, you're not really doing your job. I remember at university one of my tutors saying to me: 'You always have to be looking at what is wrong with something'. Cutting has mixed feelings about newspaper reviews of his plays, joking that "you must never believe your good reviews, because if you don't believe your good reviews then you're allowed to ignore your bad ones".
He admits, however, that they do bother him and that they can be daunting, but says that only the really good ones are useful, in that they can point to things to develop further next time. Drawing on a rural analogy that he often uses when talking to local communities about his work, Cutting says: "I compare the theatre and the director's role in a sense with the ploughman's.
Because if you go out to plough a field you only have one go at that. And you are judged by the straightness of your furrows. And once you've done them they stand there for the whole of the autumn and everyone can have a look and have a laugh if they're bad.
He adds: "How many other people do their work and it's put on public view and everyone is invited to say what they think about it? So you do have to develop a certain thick skin. He doesn't need to worry about bad reviews for Bentwater Roads so far, though. All this praise could boost a man's ego, I suggest to Cutting. Does he ever succumb to the theatre luvvie stereotype? But as I suspected, his theatre world is not one of demanding egos and crocodile tears, but rather of long, hard graft and, as he calls them, the "one-night stands" that are part of village tours.
You have to be as fit as the SAS as well, he adds. It will just annoy the director, and it will look bad on you. Just wear the costume, suffer through it, and smile. It's a natural response to talk to your friends when you see them, but don't do it during a performance. Whispering is okay if you are not near the wings or if you are in the dressing room.
But no one should be having a full-on discussion. Anything can be heard in the audience, even if you think you're quiet. And don't talk right when you go off stage because your microphone is still on and will pick up what you say. Plus, watch your language backstage because if a director can hear you say a curse word, you're finished.
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Some directors are usually sympathetic on the first day of being off-book, but after that, there is no mercy. Being off book means that you have your lines, dances, entrances, and exits memorized. No scripts should be seen once you are off book. Not being off-book means you are unprepared, and it will definitely show during rehearsals. Plus, directors can smell fear, so they will know if you didn't study your script. You won't be able to wing it, so just study your script and be prepared. Directors understand that being in school, working, taking care of a family, etc.
But don't say "I'm tired. They get it that you're tired, but so are they, and they still showed up for rehearsals. Everyone has a life outside of the theatre, but don't bring your negative attitude on the stage. Be there and be ready to work. If you're tired, just work through it, and then you can rest when you have a break. Just don't complain because the directors won't care.
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It's common sense. Hang your costumes up and put your props away. Don't be lazy and leave them on the floor or in the wrong place. The director will know that it is your costume and prop. You won't be able to hide from them. Plus, the director will have to clean this up, and it's not fair to them that they have to put your things away. Take the time to put everything away.
It'll be easier for you and the director. Seeing the performance is something that the whole cast looks forward to, but don't do it during the actual performance.
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If you watch from the wings, then you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actors will be coming through the wings to enter or exit onto the stage and you will be in their way. The audience can see you in the wings. You may not see them, but they can surely see you.
Blocking or staging is the precise moment-by-moment movement and grouping of actors on stage. The actors will bring their own interpretations to the project and perhaps inspire the director to rethink his or her interpretation.
French Theatre Create, learn about and experience French-language theatre. Start by exploring the resources available here. Dance Collections Imagined Spaces View over stage maquettes through vivid photos and archival records on scenic design. Persuading Presence Passionate about graphic arts and marketing? Explore incredible posters from the NAC Archive.
The Director's Table The work of the director is central to the production of a play.