Work With Your Actors
When you’re casting, focus less on what people look like and instead try to match qualities and skill sets between actor and character. Think about an actor’s natural status, their sense of physicality, and their willingness to stretch themselves. Relationships between characters often reduce down to simple archetypal relations that transcend things like gender and age. When you are casting, see if you can identify what the core qualities are that you are searching for, and then task your actors to show that to you.
Share your process with the actors. They will be able to contribute more if they are part of working on a shared goal. Don’t try to do everything at once. Instead, think about a painter’s process. Begin by sketching the outline, then add in rough blocks of colour, then focus on the detail, and finally add gloss and frame. A great way to begin is to identify an important component of the scene (ie. the immediate prior circumstance, the conflict , or the central event) and let the actors have a run at the scene focusing on just that. This becomes your outline, into which you will add much more detail.
3) Giving Feedback
When building a trust-based relationship with an actor, positive reinforcement really helps. A great rule of thumb is to always note what was positive in the work presented BEFORE you identify what needs to be changed. Avoid words like ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Instead frame things in the language of choices. Rehearsal is a process of sifting through many choices to find the ones that create the most compelling theatre work. Over-focusing on what’s ‘bad’ can shut down an actor’s free flow of impulses.
1) Focus on the Scene
Begin your presentation with a live version of the Director’s Insight portion of this site. Talk about what excited you about your cast’s interpretation of the material, and what the challenges were. Present the scene. Then do a live version of the Compare Key Moments feature. Show your audience 2 or 3 other versions of a moment from the scene. Have a discussion about how the scene might have been different if you had chosen to include one of the other versions.
2) Focus on the Playwright
Begin by giving your audience an overview of the playwright’s career. Start your research with the biography on this site, and then use the Resources page to find other sources of information. End by identifying what you think are the three most significant things that create the playwright’s style. Then show a scene from one of their plays that you have worked on, in which you try to capture and foreground those three things.
Research and Writing
1) Choose one item on the Canadian Theatre timeline and use some of the Resources to find out as much as you can about it. Write a short paper about how you think it impacted Canadian theatre.
2) Choose one of the Compare Key Moments selections for one of the scenes. Make sure you have read the entire play and the Playwright’s biography. Then write a short paper about how the differences between the playing of the individual moments resonate with the play’s themes and the playwright’s work as a whole.
3) Choose one of the three plays profiled on Scene/Change. Imagine you are preparing to direct it. Write a short paper that articulates the play’s theme, describes its major characters, maps out the play’s main action and conflict, and identifies the major challenges you will face as the work’s director.