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Theatre Director Book

Twelve Directors Writing , Theatre of United Kingdom , October 14, 2021
Theatre Director Book by Twelve Directors Writing The books by directors vary. In the main their theme is memoir although John Caird's book at 700 pages takes the form of a weighty guide to young directors. The advice runs from audition and casting to the show up and running.

He has a revealing perspective: “One of your most important functions as a director is that you represent the audience's interest in a play...thus, when your first audience walks into the theatre, they replace you.” If they react “in a way that you cannot approve or understand, you mustn't blame have simply imagined them incorrectly.”

The tones also vary, Mike Bradwell the most ribald by a degree. “I wanted to make theatre with words and three-dimensional characters and argument and metaphor and story-telling and jokes and life and laughter.”

As a credo that has a lot to be said for it.

There is a lot of combined wisdom to be read. Mike Alfreds asserts the primacy of form:

“A lot of contemporary art has removed itself from narrative and linear logic..But without the form created by plot, theatre and storytelling merely echo our confusions and uncertainties rather than searching for a sense to them.”

Peter Brook on the layers in Shakespeare:

“All his plays, which is what makes them so remarkable, correspond to the ancient Indian definition of good theatre, which is that plays appeal simultaneously to the people who want entertainment, people who want to understand psychology and social reality, and people who really wish to open themselves to the metaphysical secrets of the universe.”

“Shakespeare becomes something different to every age. He has this negative capability of becoming anything and anybody. It depends which angle you look at him. You can say that's because he's comprehensive or broad-minded, he's conservative, he's radical, he's revolutionary, he's reactionary, and he's progressive. Any label you choose to set on Shakespeare will in some sense be valid. That's partly because he is so extraordinarily comprehensive in his sympathies and understandings, but mostly because he revels in contradiction.”

Matthew Dunster, as recorded in Russ Hope's book, sends a note to his “Troilus and Cressida” cast: “My rules on approaching anything are simple: CLARITY-STORY-DRAMATIC EFFECTIVENESS. I want it to be clear and exciting.”

Nicholas Hytner stresses that it is to do with the world beyond the smallness of self.

“I am less interested in plays that mirror my own way of looking at experience than in playwrights who dumbfound me with their conviction and authenticity.”

And on the tricky ambivalence of being a director:

“If you direct someone else's play, your job is to be useful to it. If you have nothing to say about it, if it means nothing to you, if you think that all you need is to get out of the way, you end up draining the life out of it. But directors too determined to use a play as a vehicle for their own preoccupations can send it down a dead end where it locks its audience. When you discover a personal stake in a play, you need to balance your connection to it with your need to connect it to an audience.”

Lastly, Michael Blakemore surveys a field of high ego and strife and remembers what it is all about: “the quiet perseverance, swinging between belief and doubt, that brings art into existence in the first place.”

The links are:

28th July 2022: Peter Brook- "The Empty Stage"

7th October 2021: Richard Eyre- “Changing Stages”

07 November 2017: Nicholas Hytner- "Balancing Acts"

01 June 2017: Dominic Dromgoole- "Hamlet Globe to Globe"

25 May 2017: Michael Bogdanov- "Shakespeare The Director's Cut Volume 2 The Histories"

21 May 2017: Michael Bogdanov- "Shakespeare The Director's Cut"

12 December 2016: Dominic Dromgoole- "Will and Me"

05 December 2014: Richard Eyre- "What Do I Know?"

19 February 2014: Max Stafford-Clark- "Journal of the Plague Year"

22 January 2014: Mike Alfreds- "Then What Happens?"

08 January 2014: Michael Blakemore- "Stage Blood"

17 October 2013: Peter Brook- "The Quality of Mercy"

11 October 2013: Nick Hern- "My First Play"

08 November 2012: Russ Hope- "Getting Directions"

14 January 2012: William Gaskill- "Words into Action"

28 November 2011: John Caird- "Theatre Craft"

26 November 2011: John Caird- "Theatre Craft"

05 August 2011: Mike Bradwell- "The Reluctant Escapologist"

04 August 2011: Mike Bradwell- "The Reluctant Escapologist"

10 May 2010 John McGrath: “A Good Night Out”

07 October 2009: Richard Eyre- "Talking Theatre"

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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