Meditation on the Wacky Ass Art of Directing

by jenthorn

When people who don’t spend every waking minute in the theatre world see a show, it’s hard to see the director’s work.  Sometimes they give the director too much credit assuming all the artistic elements were created by them.  Often times they don’t give them enough credit and assume that any success in the production is only to be credited to performances or the script.  The truth is it’s very hard to know from the outside what the director did or didn’t do.  Today I am thinking about the simple definition of our job title.  We are the deciders of the direction.  Every moment of creating a production is a moment at a cross roads.  There are one, two, sometimes several paths to choose from and the director decides which path to follow.  If we’ve started our job off on the right foot we have assembled a team of people who individually know more about the separate aspects of the production than we do and then we proceed to be very clear about the vision or the end goal of the production while allowing these individuals to do their jobs in finding solutions or answers to the questions the play asks.  Sometimes these decisions feel terrifying because you can’t be sure if they’re right but the danger of not making a decision is far greater than the danger of making the wrong one.  So the director says “yes, that is correct” or “no, that doesn’t work” or “I don’t know the answer to that questions so can we spend sometime trying different options and I’ll tell you when we find one that works”. 

Today I feel thankful that I was trusted to be the director of MOXIE’s production of The Sugar Syndrome which started previews on Saturday. I feel grateful for:

-The team of designers and technicians who are so commited to the show that they have continued to shift a light here, change a sound cue there, reconstruct an entire set piece, bake a pizza from scratch in order to achieve perfect greese stains on the inside of a prop pizza box.

– The actors who work tirelessly to reach a deeper level of understanding of their characters while technically striving to render each line and movement the same without loosing the feeling of “doing it for the first time”

– My partners in MOXIE who sit in rehearsals and lend an ear and advice when I feel lost on how to achieve something.

-Our audiences whose laughter and applause and kind words assure me that this play is hitting the mark we all are aiming at.

-And lastly I feel so lucky that MOXIE is a company which takes family into consideration as part of our work.  Our tech schedule included a rotating babysitting schedule which allowed time for us all to work without worrying where our children were and on the day of our first preview when my phone rang at 9am and I saw it was our techinical director and assumed he was calling about that set peice he was going to have to rebuild…I felt grateful that it was actually him calling to see if he could reserve a picnic table at the park for my daughter’s first birthday party that morning. 

Here are some of the newest MOXIE’s celebrating Penny’s first birthday before heading back to work.

Chelsea Whitmore, Jennifer Brawn Gittings, Dustin Long and Amy Chini

Chelsea Whitmore, Jennifer Brawn Gittings, Dustin Long and Amy Chini