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Directing as Collaboration: An Insider’s Look for Theatre Lovers   

This course meets five (5) times, online via Zoom. Registration is open through 1/16/2022.

What do stage directors actually do, and how does their work impact the audience’s experience of watching a play  in performance? This course highlights the role of the director in interpreting, shaping and staging major works by a  range of playwrights, and will include a focus on the director-playwright collaboration, drawn from my own  rehearsal experience. How does a director help to bring forward a playwright’s vision? What is the director’s role in  dramaturgy, rewrites, and visual interpretation? Open to all theater lovers regardless of background or experience!

For those who took "The Art of Directing" in August - Sept 2021, this new class will focus on a different group of  scripts and look more closely at how directors and playwrights collaborate. 

Week by Week Outline 

WEEK ONE: Overview of the role of the director, from script analysis and research to casting, designing, rehearsing  and contextualizing a play. Exploration of the ways in which directors and playwrights collaborate in the room (with some famous examples like Tennessee Williams and Margo Jones, or Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider). I will then  discuss my own decades-long collaboration with Tom Stoppard, focusing in particular on INDIAN INK, which underwent significant alterations over the course of our rehearsals. We’ll explore the central themes of the play, the  challenges of design, casting and staging, and the process of rewriting that Stoppard undertook to finally find a  satisfying conclusion. 

WEEK TWO: Harold Pinter’s THE BIRTHDAY PARTY. How does a director bring to life this mysterious play about a  man trapped in a seaside house who is visited by two strangers? In realizing the world of the play on stage, how  does one decide how abstract or realistic the approach should be? Drawing from my own extensive work with Pinter  in rehearsal, I will explore design, staging, choreography, the use of props and sound, and Pinter’s own explanation  of his infamous “pause”. 

WEEK THREE: Tennessee Williams, THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Williams’ first major work was developed in  collaboration with the famous Texan director Margo Jones; the play underwent endless revisions in their attempt to  render it both poetic and true. How did Jones realize Williams’ concept of a “dream play”, and how does one  approach the world of THE GLASS MENAGERIE today? This class will reference a variety of recent productions of the play and look closely at how a director’s casting and design choices impact interpretation. 

WEEK FOUR: Harley Granville-Barker, THE VOYSEY INHERITANCE, adapted by David Mamet (I will provide the script).  This class will focus on the ways in which a contemporary playwright, in collaboration with a specific directorial  vision, adapted a 1905 play for a contemporary audience. We will discuss the challenges of directing a dialectical  play of complex characters and argument, of creating a world for the production that feels both true to its source  and alive today. And we’ll consider the unique experience of working with David Mamet! 

WEEK FIVE: Ursula Rami Sarna, A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS (I will provide the script). The week we will look at the  process of directing an adaptation of a novel, in this case, a stage version of Khaled Hosseni’s 2007 epic about  women in Afghanistan. I’ll share the long developmental process we undertook at A.C.T. to commission and develop  a new play based on the novel, focusing on the visual world, music, structure of the storytelling and casting to bring  that complex culture to life. We’ll look more broadly at what it means for a director to work on non-traditional  material, from devised work and movement theater to spoken word adaptations.


This class is not available at this time.