VI- Directing:

• The director’s main role is to direct the play; thus the director needs to have had previous experience in doing so. Directing is defined as the process of decision making behind the artistic needs of the production. S/he is to work directly with the producer to create an artistic concept that ideally envisions the opinions of both director and producer.
• The director always has the last word in terms of the conceptualization of the play; s/he has to make sure that the rest of the people working on the production understand her/his notion.
• The director is in charge, at all times, of leading others and inspiring motivation and confidence that the final product of the production is a process to which it is worth devoting time and energy. The role of the director is often compared to that of a teacher who guides others and directs the way duties are performed. However, it is important to always leave enough space for personal creativity to take place.
• Good directors do not show people how to do things; artists, specifically actors, like to feel that they are accomplishing things on their own. Thus, the role of the director is to make production team members feel that they are discovering things on their own.

A. Duties of the director
Selecting a play:
• When directing a play, the first step is to determine which play to put on. Enclosed are a few guidelines of how to select a play that meets the specific needs of Teatrotaller. However, keep in mind that regardless of the specifications here mentioned, it is important that the director enjoys the play and feels some personal urge to direct it.
• In the past, I have found that those plays that I have enjoyed the most to direct are those that I have had to read a couple of times before I get to like them and understand what the conflict of the play is about. Plays that I absolutely love right away can be good, but in many occasions aren’t as challenging. When you fully understand a play right away, it might mean that you have figured out most of the conflict and that there won’t be much more to discover through the process.

Developing a concept:
• After you have selected a play think: What is this play about? Determining what a play is about is one of the most crucial aspects of directing. Everything in the production stems from the main conflict of the play, and if the director has answered this question correctly, the production will be stylistically consistent and the process will flow naturally.
• When determining what the play is about to you, always state it as a verb in its gerundial form. For example, Rosa de dos aromas is about liberating two women who find themselves trapped in a “machista” society. Notice that the key word here, liberation is a very visual and physical word. It was from this idea that we developed the concept of the jail as the central metaphor for the play and decided that the play would take place in an “arena” space.
• In order to decide what the play is about, a lot of text work is necessary. One of the most useful techniques is to analyze the text backwards. That is, if in the last scene of the play one of the characters leaves another, then take a look at the previous scene and determine the reasons why the character left. The previous scene might in fact reveal if the character’s sudden exit was, for instance, a running away or a storming out. Determining subtle differences in the play, like the one just mentioned, will make a great impact on the final development of the production elements of the play.
• Another useful and essential technique when directing a play is to be able to determine what the conflict of the play is about. Always state the conflict between the characters in a verb form-- i.e. a pushing vs. a pulling. Use verbs that reveal the physical and psychological states of the characters. While using psychological verbs will help to determine traits of each specific character, physical verbs will help to block the scenes. After you have stated the conflict, then determine when is the conflict resolved, who wins, and who was the dominant character in the scene.
• Determining the resolution of the conflict, or the action equals determining what the scene is about. Knowing who the dominant character in the scene is and who wins the conflict are also instrumental in the blocking of the play.
• Once you have developed the conflict of the play, then you are ready to move on to the next two steps of the production process: casting and meeting with the designers.

• When casting the play, always keep in mind the specific need that your interpretation of the play requires. For instance, Teatrotaller’s version of La barca sin pescador required different casting specifications than those that the author states in the original text.
• More information on how to prepare auditions and select a team for the production is included in the first chapter of this manual.

Meeting with the designers:
• Right after the director has determined the concept of the play and sometimes even before the play has been cast, meet with the set designer to begin talks about the general design for the play. It is important that this take place as soon as possible, since designing the space and building the set are extremely time consuming. The set design must be ready before rehearsals begin so that the play may be blocked.
• When talking to designers, first let them know what the play is about to you. Use visual verbs. You may wish to explain why you selected the play or any specific visual images that it brings to mind.
• Selecting a metaphor is often extremely useful. It activates the designers’ imagination. Talk about specific colors, textures, images, artists, etc. that the play brings to mind.
• For more information on how the specific needs and ideas that you need to discuss with each specific designer, please refer to the design sections of the manual.

Preparations for the rehearsal period:
• After the set has been designed, and the cast has been selected, the next step in the process is to begin the rehearsal period.
• However, before rehearsals begin, it is very useful for the director to divide the play in scenes. For the purposes of Teatrotaller, it is very convenient to base the division of scenes by the exits and entrances of the characters, since this way, not everybody need to be at rehearsals all the time. Enclosed is a sample of how to divide the play by entrances and exits.
• Along with the stage manager, the director will prepare a rehearsal schedule, specifying who needs to be present at rehearsals and which scenes will be rehearsed. Please make sure that only those characters who will be needed are called to rehearsal. It is very discouraging for actors to attend rehearsals where they aren’t needed. The stage manager needs to have a copy of the conflict sheets that the entire team filled out at auditions.

• The first step in the rehearsal process is to block the play, or to mark the movements of the actors on stage. If the conflict of the play is well defined, this should run smoothly and naturally. For example, if the conflict is a persecuting vs. a running away, the blocking will merely reflect these actions.
• When blocking a play, always keep in mind the importance of taking full advantage of the downstage anchors. Anchors are used on stage to ensure that the actors will have a motivation to use the whole stage area.
• A play must always be blocked in diagonals. Diagonals intensify the conflict between the characters and create multiple visual levels. This is the easiest way to avoid dull stage movements and flat patterns on stage.

The Rehearsal Period:
• Rehearsing is the process of determining the action of each specific moment of the play. Action is the resolution of the conflict, and it determines what the scene is about. Thus, rehearsing a play is the process of determining what is going on at every specific point of the play. Clarity is the key to a good theatrical production. The conflict must be evident, intense, and well defined at all times.
• Another simple way to block the play and to direct the way the acting is executed is by asking yourself: What does the character want at this particular moment? This is called determining the objectives of a character, and the actions that you perform to achieve those objectives are tactics.
• Defining the tactics is also very useful for the blocking of the play. A character might be running away from the other character, but the way he/she does it may vary throughout the scene. For example, a character might try to run away at one point, but at the other he/she might simply try to silently escape the room.
• Obstacles are what prevent the characters from achieving what they want. These might be physical (useful for the blocking) or psychological (useful for the acting).
• Working with good actors is the key to a successful production. Trust your actors. Actors are very creative individuals and if you inspire them in the right way, they might actually do most of the job for the director.
• ASK THEM QUESTIONS. This will make them feel as if they were discovering things on their own. Ask them: where would you cross with this line? why? what do you want? etc.
• Observe their actions and movements. Encourage them to do things even if they feel silly and dumb. They might not work, but they might inspire you to try something that may in fact be useful.
• If an actor asks you a question, it is often very useful to revert the question back to them. For instance if they ask you: why do you think my character says this? ask them: Why do you think he/she does?
• Very often , they will provide very good insights about the characters, and they may in fact provide answers to questions that you do not know. Even if you do not know anything, appear confident and that everything is under control. This will make them trust you.
What to do when a scene isn’t simply working or doesn’t look the way you want it to?:
• Observe the scene carefully and determine what is it about it that you do not like.
• Once you have diagnosed the problem in the scene, correcting the problem will be relatively easy if the right techniques are applied.
• Theater games and improvisations are a great solution to the most common problems encountered in the rehearsal process. While playing games, most often the actor liberates him/herself from inhibitions that were coming in the way of performing the scene correctly.
• Viola Spolin’s book Improvisation for the theater is an excellent source for directors and actors. It provides solutions and alternatives to virtually every pitfall that the director might find her/himself trapped in.

Other useful techniques:
Props or stage business are very useful tools for actors who are self-conscious. Giving actors something to do helps them to keep attention away from the way they deliver the lines and to focus on the action that they are performing. This way, the language will seem more natural and will flow better.
When in doubt, add music. Music fills in the silences beautifully and may help to intensify the conflict of those scenes. Music is also a great way to create style/ ambiance is a play.
Entrances and exits say a lot about a character. Watch these carefully and determine, where is this character coming from, where is he/she going to, what happened previously, what is happening next, etc.
Another very useful exercise is to play with the rhythm of the piece. It adds variety and makes the play move faster. Have actors perform the scene slowly, quickly, alternating speeds, etc., and observe the results. After this exercise, you may wish to decide to alter the speed of some parts of the piece and the actors might get insights into their characters.
Repeat the exercise above mentioned but alternating the volume this time. Have the characters be loud, soft, etc. This might be very useful in determining who is the dominant character the scene and who is supposed to be getting the audience’s focus.
• The most important part of a rehearsal is giving notes to the actors and the technical staff.
• Give notes clearly and concisely. Get to the point. Make sure that you understand the root of the problem that you are pointing out to the actor. For example, if a scene isn’t working, don’t just tell them that it isn’t working, since this might be frustrating. Tell them why. Is it too slow, fast, etc?
• During rehearsals, specifically final rehearsals, it is very useful to request actors and the technical staff to write down the notes.

Preparation for technical rehearsals (Dry technical rehearsals):
• Before final rehearsals take place, the director must have talked to all of the designers and made sure that everything is set for the final rehearsals.
• Time in the theater is very limited, and therefore, it needs to be used wisely. That means:

• The lighting design on paper should have been submitted to the lighting designer at least two weeks before the final rehearsals begin (For more information regarding deadlines, see production calendar enclosed.)
• The director should provide the designer with a copy of the ground plan for the play. The easiest way to design the lights on paper is by allocating a letter to each of the areas in the ground plan (see example in the lights section of this manual). Each of these areas named by a letter is called a plot.
• Then, the director will prepare a chart (look at sample chart enclosed in the lights section of the manual) indicating:
1-) Cue #
2-) Which Plot (letter)
Intensity (Percentage at which it should be lit)
Color (If any)
3-) Time (seconds)
4-) Cue (For bringing the lights up)
5-) Page number in which the cue happensSound:
At least one or two weeks prior to the final rehearsals, make sure that the sound designer knows which cues to use. After he/she knows which cues to use, he/she must have prepared a cue sheet (like the one enclosed in the sound chapter). The sound designer must also have recorded the cues on individual tapes.

All costumes must have been selected and moved to the theater along with everything else when the U-Haul is rented.
Rehearsals in the theater:

A- The Spacing Rehearsal
Right after the set has been moved to the theater and the set has been put in place, the first step is to have a spacing rehearsal. Remind the actors to open up and to adjust to the special needs that the new space might require.

B- Cue to cue
• In a cue to cue rehearsal, the stage manager, following the script, will lead the director and the designers from cue to cue. Both lights and sound are done at the same time and in the order in which they take place in the play.
• The director must make sure that he/she has headsets to communicate with the designers/stage manager.
• So far, the designers have only talked to you about your ideas for the play and you have set the design on paper. The cue to cue is the first opportunity to actually see on stage the things that you have imagined.
• Thus, keep in mind that the cue to cue will take a long time. Do not rush this part of the rehearsals. It takes time for the designer to set the cues in the computer.
• Make sure that when the cue to cue is over, you have decided how each of the cues will happen. This is the moment to make decisions and try different alternatives.
• Run each cue until it has been perfected. Repeat running the cues as many times as possible--not less than ten times.

Final Rehearsals:
•Even though running the final rehearsals is the responsibility of the stage manager, the director is still in charge of making sure that the artistic side of the production is running well and that there aren’t any stylistic clashes between the design elements of the production.
• Here are a few pointers of things to look at during the final rehearsals:
-Make sure that the actors are opening up and that they are visible from every point in the audience. Switch seats, don’t sit in the same place every night.
-Make sure that you can hear them from every point in the audience.
-Check that the makeup is adequate and looks good with the lights.
-Check that the cues are happening at the right timing, etc. If they aren’t, repeat them as necessary.
- If you are running out of time at rehearsals, run a cue, don’t run the whole play. Another option is to run a speed run through, doing everything at speedy motion.

Curtain call:
• Always arrange the curtain call in such a way that the audience’s response will keep increasing as the actors come on stage.
• Match the actors in pairs in such a way that those who might not get the best response from the audience will benefit from their partners.