Power: Onstage and Offstage

Our directors lab last month was led by Derrick Sanders.  Derrick has had such amazing experiences ans a director; working with August Wilson, artistic director of a theater company; directing for any number of great theater in Chicago, NY and elsewhere.

All I wanted to do was ask him questions.  How do you maintain power as a director?  How do you run your rehearsal room?  Where do you find your inspiration?  What is your process before a show begins?  Is it the same every time?

Derrick was gracious enough to answer all of our questions no matter how seemingly pedestrian.

Am I exposing myself here?

I guess I am.

As a new director I was intimidated. I have very little experience and the craft is still unfolding in front of me every time we meet.  I don’t feel like I have a solid process.  I get really anxious about having to have all the answers.

I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW!!

I don’t have to have all the answers and being willing to admit not knowing is a powerful thing.  I know that.  In my mind.

But not my heart.

Does that make sense?

It sounds cheesy and cliche but as a director I want to be able to help guide my actors, designers, crew to express clearly the message the playwright has laid out for us.

Do professional directors  feel power within themselves because they trust the process or their research?

Is finding that power a matter of practice and doing it over and over and falling on your face?

The prospect of falling on my face with so many people counting on me is…unnerving.

Do directors feel terrified every time they work but have become so good at managing the personalities in the room they are able to muscle through?

Lots of questions in this blog huh.

For the next part of the lab Derrick began to tackle composition.

My tension starts to rise.

I had been reading out our textbook “Play Directing: Analysis, Communication and Style” by Francis Hodge.  It makes it all seem so complicated and formulaic. I am not formulaic by nature.

Tension building.

Do directors really have all of this going on in their mind at any given time when they are working on a scene?  Points of power and planes and 120 degree angles and the like.

I mention this to Derrick.

He responds that it’s good information to have and know and that different directors use that information in different ways.

Good.

Good response.

Tension still rising.

Now having some distance from our lab and preparing to enter into another process there are a lot of things swimming in my mind.  The most compelling of which is something  I have scoffed at when I’ve heard it mentioned in the past.

My husband talks about needing SPACE.  That to be creative requires lots of SPACE and TIME.  And I’m all – who has space and time?  I have a career and a business to run and two kids I don’t have time to create space.

It’s interesting to me now to try to carve out time to be inspired.  Time to find images.  To shift my perspective from panic to pleasure.

Derrick said that he has pictures he took on his iphone, of people he saw on the street who resembled characters in a play he is working on.

How fun is that?

The director of our next month’s lab talked about how she listens to lots of music to get inspired and watches lots of  movies.

Also fun.

Tension decreasing.

So I’m off to fill my ipod and carry around my Flip and will try to keep reminding myself to make it fun and find inspiration in the tiny spaces I have in my life.

Did I also mention I got rid of cable?  Thought that might open up some time since I won’t be watching Supernanny til midnight.

And am giving up drinking until June when my next project opens.  I’ll keep you posted on how that one is going.

Comments, smart remarks and inspiration are welcome.

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