Things I've Learned From Directing a Play I Wrote
As requested by @ellenetten. It was my first time writing a play AND directing a play. I have no experience doing one without the other, so I'll talk about all of it. Also, this seems so technical and like I'm some expert! There are actual experts on ListApp. This is just my experience.
- •Trust your actors. I worked with the same ten actors for about six years. I know exactly how each of them likes to work. I was nervous about working with new actors and getting the best performances, but I trusted they knew what works best for them and followed their leads.
- •Use the writer advantage. I changed lines on the spot if they weren't working. Didn't have to worry about anyone's ego except my own.
- •Think of the script as a draft. Think of your director notes as drafts. It's a collaborative process once you cast actors. Be excited about your work evolving. Don't be precious about work you've already done. That being said...
- •Don't assume the writing isn't working until you've seen it rehearsed at least twice. Actors need time to warm up. They could be the best actors in the world and not give you what you want in the first go. Don't assume you failed as a writer. Give it time to work.
- •Respect the other departments and listen to their ideas. I figured out a key aspect of a main character during a discussion with our customer designer. At one point, I disagreed with our set designer, but politely explained myself and she came back with something even better.
- •Pay attention to casting. I spent a lot of time choosing the right people for my show, but it was worth it (look how cute they are!) Once the actors are cast, they're the ones onstage and the play is in their hands. Casting is your last chance to control! I don't see directing as controlling.
- •Walk through blocking with interns, friends, anyone other than actors. Give yourself a director rehearsal before bringing in actual cast. You'll be less nervous which will make cast less nervous.
- •There's more risk because you can't blame anyone but yourself, but there's also more reward. And more flowers opening night!
- •This list reads as boring and pompous, but I'm glad @ellenetten asked me to write it. Thanks!