Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thoughts on Directing - Vol. 1

Directing The Baltimore Waltz has been a very enlightening experience so far. Because I cast three excellent actors I am relaxed about the outcome. This has freed me up to really watch them rehearse and let my imagination just flow. I have always suspected, but now am certain, that many of my ideas come from that part of the brain that is purely unconscious. The observations that are most striking to me are two: first as I watch a scene I often don't worry about the content, I only pay attention to whether or not my mind is being stimulated and brought alive by what is happening on stage. If I pay attention to that, I can pinpoint problems in scenes just by asking myself, "what were the actors missing in this moment that caused my mind to become bored?", usually there is something very specific that is required to make the moment work and I look for that. I do my best to describe my impression to the actors and then ask them to do it again. Inevitably the moment that was bland or misguided comes to life. It's quite an astonishing process. The second thing I do often, is just let the scene unfold and pay attention to my associations. For instance yesterday, there was a scene that I had staged in a very static way. Initially this seemed adequate and would have been a fine way to set it. But as I watched them rehearse it again, the image of Rod Serling from the Twilight Zone, kept coming to my head. I quickly realized that what my unconscious was telling me was that this moment would be much more interesting, if I had one of the characters walk among the other two characters as he talked about their past lives. Often, Rod Serling would do something like this. He would saunter across the screen recounting the lives of one of his characters and asking questions about how things could have been different for them. I asked the actor to try it this way, and the outcome for all of us was astonishing. The feel of the whole scene changed and it was much more exciting and interesting to watch.

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