Offbeat Directing 7a: Who Does What?

Barbara —  June 28, 2013 — Leave a comment
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You’re right. There is absolutely no reason to place this photo with this post.

Also in this series:
Offbeat Directing 1: The Vision Quest
Offbeat Directing 2: Understanding the Script
Offbeat Directing 3: Dreaming and Planning
Offbeat Directing 4: What Does the Director Do?
Offbeat Directing 5: Trial by Audition
Offbeat Directing 6: The First Awkward Read Through

Ok, now the work can really start. I love rehearsals! There is nothing more satisfying than a dynamic, creative, interactive rehearsal that leaves everyone feeling like they”re getting somewhere! It isn’t always like that of course, but we’ll work though that in time.. For now we have several things to do within the same time frame in the early stages. We need to be aware of the way we’re going to work and who does what (this is the subject for this post), we need to have a plan for how we work with our actors in rehearsal and we need another for dealing with the infrastructure, the design and the people helping us out with it! Sounds like a lot – and it is. If you’re organised and clear and can delegate you’ll be fine.

So, who does what?
We’ve looked at the ROLE OF THE DIRECTOR and have established that as director you are the central pivot around which the whole production will revolve. It is your vision and plan that will lead the way and you need to be clear about what you want and have a cunning plan to achieve it! We’ll explore cunning plans in the next post.

So … in theory this is what you should expect:

The ACTORS:

  • Should understand the play, the character they are playing and their relationships with other characters at a mental, emotional and physical level
  • Should have ideas to contribute at rehearsals regarding all aspects of their character
  • Must be a creative part of the process in every way possible
  • Are responsible learning their lines on time!

The STAGE MANAGER:

  • If you’re lucky enough to have a Stage Manager with you at every rehearsal (joy!) they will be able to keep track of set changes, blocking (when you get to it) and any other impoprtant notes regarding staging
  • They will organise the set build and will therefore need to work closely with the director and designers
  • In theory the SM should be able to take a rehearsal if the director isn’t present. They may also stand in for missing actors (if you’re very lucky)
  • They are responsible for the stage – so setting up for rehearsal is a SM job. They also arrange their backstage crew and will organise rehearsal props for you (as well as the actual props later on).
  • As your right hand person they are invaluable for a second opinion, advice and support. Don’t hesitate to ask your SM for all of these things (assuming you have a good working relationship!)

The PRODUCER

  • Deals with the infrastructure. We’ll look at that in 7d.
  • May well be present at some rehearsals and (depending on the agreements you’ve forged with your producer) may be availale for creative support/help as well

You should also have:

  • A prompt: I don’t use prompts during the actual show or for 3/4 weeks before the show starts, but they are invaluable prior to that during the uncertain phase after books go down. You may also decide to use a prompt in your show in which case it is important that they know the script really well (nothing gets an actor more annoyed than being prompted when they are ‘acting’ in the pause!)
  • ASMs (assistant stage managers): Leave to organisation of the ASM jobs to your SM. They will be responsible for all the backstage activity, props, scene changes etc.
  • Designers: For set, costumes, lighting, SFX and sound. We’ll look at those in 7c.
  • Technicians: Your lighting and sound technicians will work primarily with the SM. They actually operate the sound & lights and should be brought into rehearsals with enough time to get to know the show before they start pressing buttons.
  • A host of other people to assist with creating and running every aspect of the show you can imagine (see 7d).

BUT in reality
You might not have a producer
You might not have designers
Your technicians might also be your designers
You Stage Manager might not be prepared to come to all rehearsals
You might not get on with some of the people you’re working with
You might have an awful lot to do yourself!

BUT you might just have enough people and talent to cover everything that needs to happen if you can harness the available energy in the right way and at the right time. As long as you know WHAT needs to be done you can delegate. In the next few posts we’ll look at:

7b: Early Rehearsals and Cunning Plans
7c: Design Meetings
7d: Infrastructure!

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Barbara

Barbara

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Writer of Offbeat plays for adults, youth theatres, schools and anyone else! Loves to write, design and direct own shows (is that greedy?)

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