Chapter 13: Directing and Producing

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1 Chapter 13: Directing and Producing Playwright Producer Functions are distinct yet entwined Director Writing, producing, and directing come together in a variety of ways and meet in production Playwright Producer Director

2 The Producer Producers have the financial and managerial tasks of making productions available to the public Producers influence artistic decisions through their willingness or unwillingness (or ability/inability) to meet the requests of artists Producers are responsible for staying within a budget and for recovering the investment made in the production, if possible

3 The Producer Broadway Producers: Generally consist of organizations, groups of individuals, or consortia Raise necessary capital Receive payment for services + a large percentage of profits

4 The Producer Broadway Producers: Broadway productions costs = millions $ Success as unpredictable Producers get backing from many people or many groups due to level of risk

5 The Producer Broadway Producers: Negotiate contracts with all personnel; must deal with up to 11 unions representing artists and other personnel Rent spaces for rehearsals; lease auditoriums for performances

6 The Producer Broadway Producers: Arrange for publicity and ticket sales Administer payroll, keep financial records, make reports to investors

7 The Producer Professional Resident Companies: Managing Director or Producing Director deals with financing and marketing Both Managing Director and Artistic Director work to raise funds, along with Board of Directors These companies cannot support activities strictly from box office income, so grants and contributions are pursued

8 What do YOU think? As noted on the previous slide, many professional resident companies cannot support their activities strictly from box office income, and consequently must pursue grants and funding from other sources. 1. Why do you suppose these theatres have difficulty profiting from theatrical productions? 2. How do capital and profit operate in movies and popular music? How is this similar to how capital and profit operate in Broadway productions? 3. In what ways might theatrical offerings be limited if all theatres produced only works that had mass appeal?

9 The Producer Community Theatre: Organization itself usually acts as producer Volunteers carry out most duties, under supervision of organization s officers and board of directors Educational Theatre: Producer s function often divided among many people

10 The Producer Tasks of producing are much the same, regardless of the type of organization Who performs the functions and how they are performed vary

11 Play Selection Most permanent organizations present a season of several plays Considerations for season selection: Offering a variety of periods and forms Production requirements of each play Total cost in relation to organization s budget and projected income Tastes of local audiences Probable box office appeal

12 Play Selection Professional organizations deal with living authors or their agents in negotiating arrangements Amateur production rights handled by play agencies such as Samuel French or Dramatists Play Service Copyright = lifetime of author + 70 years Royalties paid for each performance

13 The Director Concerned with all artistic aspects of production Decides upon interpretation of script and production concept to shape staging Casts and rehearses performers Works with designers Integrates all elements into finished production

14 Analyzing and Studying the Script Script as starting point for most productions Initial questions facing director include: 1. What is the basic story? 2. If the play is in a foreign language, what translation is best suited for this production? 3. How might the play s events and their arrangement affect a live audience? 4. Should portions of the script be cut? 5. What is the significance of the play s time and setting? Should these be altered?

15 Analyzing and Studying the Script In analyzing the script, the director may: Read the play several times to become familiar with overall qualities Note structural patterns Divide the play into segments or units defined by entrances/exits or major changes in character motivation

16 Analyzing and Studying the Script Note emotional reactions or images inspired by script Define the through line or spine of action that holds play together and determines its overall thrust Study characters Note scenic, costume, lighting requirements

17 Analyzing and Studying the Script Consult sources beyond script to: Understand author s point of view Explore the cultural environment and context Read what critics and reviewers have written about the play and about previous productions

18 Analyzing and Studying the Script Director may distill his/her interpretation of the play into a production concept Production concept = a short statement that conveys the director s vision for the production Production concept is a organizational tool for the production team

19 Approaches to Directing 3 common approaches: Literal Translation Auteur

20 Approaches to Directing Literal Director serves playwright Transfer of script as literally as possible from page-to-stage Retain time and place specified in script Follow playwright s staging prescriptions closely

21 Approaches to Directing Translation Director s goal is to capture spirit of script May depart from playwright s specifications Most common approach Usually identifies a metaphor, analogy, dominant theme, or set of conventions that will shape the production

22 Approaches to Directing Auteur Script as raw material that the director feels free to reshape as needed Director as principal creative force At its most extreme, eliminates playwright altogether

23 The Director and the Designers The production s focus should be clear to all The director must relate any specific demands to designers, such as: Shape of set Specific mood lighting Garments with specific features After initial meetings, designers must be allowed time to conceive their designs

24 The Director and the Designers Designs are then considered and various questions are explored: Do the designs project the production concept adequately? Do they fit the play s action, mood, theme, and style? How do the lighting, costume, scenic, and sound designs complement each other? Are the designs functional for staging purposes? Can designs be achieved within budget, personnel, and time constraints? Designs are approved and then executed

25 Auditions and Casting Audition procedures vary: Open call = allows anyone interested to audition Access still often restricted by some criteria Casting Directors Create small pool of likely candidates who are then auditioned by director, producer, playwright Call Backs Narrow field of prospective actors are given more time to demonstrate suitability in additional auditions Actors may be called back numerous times

26 Auditions and Casting Audition Material: Actors asked frequently to perform 2 short, contrasting monologues unrelated to the play being cast Actors sometimes asked to study the script being cast and to read a passage from it Actors may be asked to read unfamiliar material and to respond to instructions from director = cold readings

27 Working with the Actors Directors supervise rehearsals, ideally working collaboratively with actors to give life to the play Throughout process, directors assess the work of the actor and make suggestions for improvement Directors who work effectively with actors are: Tactful Understanding Critics Teachers Friends Disciplinarians Sensitive listeners and observers

28 The Director s Means Stage Images Visual composition: Creates beautiful stage pictures Forms images that convey situation, emotional content, character relationships each moment of performance = an image bearing a message

29 The Director s Means Stage Images for Proscenium Arch Theatres Devices for composition and emphasis: Position of performers on stage Height Stage areas Spatial relationship Contrast Visual focus Costume, lighting, scenery

30 The Director s Means Stage Images for Thrust or Arena Theatres Devices for composition and emphasis: Height Spatial relationship Contrast Visual focus Costume, lighting, scenery

31 The Director s Means Stage Images for Thrust or Arena Theatres Difficult to compose visual images that are expressive from every point of view Focus on constructing images from a variety of angles throughout performance Stage Images for Flexible Spaces Most problematic type of space

32 Movement, Gesture, and Business Dominant impression of performance is movement: flow, change, development Functions of movement: Emphasizes by catching the eye and directing attention Characterizes Clarifies situation Builds scenes to climax, provides contrast, establishes tempo May be indicative of dramatic type or style

33 Movement, Gesture, and Business 3 main types of movement: From place to place Gesture = gesture, facial expression, bodily attitude (body language) Business = physical activities such as arranging flowers, dueling

34 Voice and Speech Voice as medium for speech, song, or nonverbal vocal sound Director s 4 main concerns: 1. Dialogue should be audible and comprehensible 2. Vocal qualities should be appropriate to character 3. Inflection and volume should not only be appropriate to character, but also to situation and meaning 4. Tempo and rhythm should vary appropriately in accordance with changing dynamics of action

35 Rehearsing the Play Role of Imagination Generally, scenery, costumes, lighting, and props are not available until the final days of rehearsal period; rehearsal space is seldom actual performance space Rehearsal Space: Usually large room Ground plan of set taped out onto floor; multiple sets indicated with various colors of tape Temporary props and rehearsal costumes used

36 Rehearsing the Play Phases of Rehearsal 1. Usually devoted to reading and discussing script 2. Usually devoted to blocking = establishing each performer s movements from place to place and each performer s bodily position at each moment 3. Usually devoted to deepening actors understanding of lines and blocking 4. Usually dedicated to ensemble playing and shaping the action for overall effect 5. Final phase integrates all elements of production when the production opens, director s job essentially ends

37 The Director s Assistants Director may have several assistants who: Take director s notes during rehearsals Attend production meetings May serve as liaison with designers May coach actors or rehearse scenes with performers Production Stage Manager Most indispensable assistant Runs show at each performance Compiles prompt book during rehearsal process, which becomes the blueprint for the performance

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