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Top tips for working with Directors

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Top Tips if you think you want/need  a director

You may find it helpful to sit down with your partners/colleagues and ask yourselves some questions

• Establish who is the author of the idea. Will it remain with the same person or will the baton of authorship be passed around during the creative?
• Establish at what stage you want to bring someone into the process – is it early enough? The director may wish to be part of the early stages of devising/designing/making. Is it late enough? You may just want an outside eye who can spot some obvious tweaks that will make a difference...but you don’t want someone to come in and alter the fundamentals and throw everything into disarray.
• Establish whether you need a referee, a dramaturg, a cheerleader, a stage manager, a teacher , a dictator/control freak, an editor, a choreographer, a critical friend ...a director might be any or all of these things at different points in your process, and it may help to try and identify which roles you think you need right now...and which you may need further down the line.
• If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it....it may be that you don’t need a director at all. And just because the Arts Council assessor said it needed a director doesn’t mean they’re right.
• But they may be right, and bringing some external support into your process could be welcomed and help you achieve something of a different scale and quality than you’ve created to date.
•  Equally if, deep down, it’s a duffer of an idea, bringing in a director ain’t gonna fix it.
• If you’ve got stuck, investigate the idea of someone who can disrupt your process – a maverick and renegade influence who could turn your patterns of behaviour inside out. This may be useful if you work together with the same people a lot.
• Rather than bringing in a director for 3 weeks of your rehearsal process, why not bring in 3 different people at different points? ... one person may come in as an outside eye, another might observe your rehearsal process and ask you useful questions about how you are making decisions, a third may teach you to tap dance, and that’s just what you need for that eggy bit which isn’t working.
• Use your networks and your peers to help you ask the right questions
•  Be prepared to pay for expertise
• Be willing to ask people to do things for little or no money – they may be able to give you their time even though you haven’t got any budget at this point
• Be prepared for them to say no to working for no money - it’s ok to ask and it’s ok to say no.
• Think about using a video camera as an outside eye – film yourselves and then watch it the next day and try to see your work with fresh eyes...but treat this tool with caution -  remember that it’s not an audience, and things look different on video than how they play live.
• Ask the director how they want to work
• Identify what support the director may need – eg. a mentor, a sounding board that isn’t any of you?
• Determine what creative relationships the director can influence – do they get to choose the designer, or work with their usual musical director, or are you expecting them to be part of a creative team with people that they haven’t worked with before?
• Test the assumptions in the creative team early on.
• The place for play – do you need a director to be a play leader, bringing lots of metaphorical toys into your process?
• Do you want to be a director that is liked?
• Do you want a director that creates consensus and collaboration or do you want someone who is prepared to tell you what’s wrong and how to make changes (that you may not like)
• Have you built in points for review, reflection and feedback through your process – by doing this you may find that the audience become your best director.
• Have you planned how to credit the director?  Conceived by, directed by, created by... or no name on anything

These notes came out of the discussion at For the Love of It, led by Liz Pugh...please add/delete/change/argue with or against...

When to bring in a director?  Determine the way points in your process
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