Teaching Directing: Two Different Approaches and Finding a Balance, Part II

stage directing1265

stage directing1265In Part I, of Teaching Directing: Two Different Approaches and Finding a Balance, we focused on the benefits of having directing students work from the outside in. That is, focusing on text, directing skills and techniques, and proper interpretation of material to learn the basic of stage directing.

There are numerous benefits to this approach, including the fact that it get a new director focused on relaying a vision that is born from the text, a premise, or a specific aspect related to technique, rather than focusing on the director applying their personal experience to what they are directing, and, thus making the prjoject about themselves.

However, directors do bring a lot of themselves to the process, and their insights, which certainly come from their life experience, are one of things that sets one production of a play apart from another. In Part II of this blog, we consider having students work from the inside out.

The Inside Out

Working from the inside out can help create connections.
Working from the inside out can help create connections.

By the inside out we mean that directors start with their own life experience and use that in creating a piece, perhaps devising a scene or a play, or in interpreting the work of another, or in helping an actor discover their character. An in-class exercise that starts with a director remembering one of their dreams and creating a short group of scenes around that dream is one example of how this might be done.

Reasons for the Inside Out Approach

First of all, the inside out approach acknowledges that every director being something unique from their own life to the directorial process. It also helps to open up communication in and through which as director may better connect with the text of a play and with the other artists involved in the process. It also gets directors understanding that creativity is born in them, and that they really do bring a lot to the table when it comes to play interpretation and the implementation of an artistic production.

How It Works

Bringing ideas to light and life.
Bringing ideas to light and life.

In terms of teaching directors, students utilize the inside out approach by finding the genesis for their concepts for a specific exercise within themselves and from their own lives. They often take real life events that they have experienced and put them on stage, making them into a fiction. They are connecting their real lives to the creation of art and beginning to understand in a very direct fashion how their lives can be used to enrich a theatrical piece, and the lives of those who encounter it.

Exercises that focus on loss, a dramatic event, individual artistic taste, and dreams can all be used with the inside out approach. When coupled with exercises that use the outside in method, directors begin to make connections in new and exciting ways.

Finding Insights and Connections

Thus, in also using the inside out approach, you want to make sure that your directors are finding connections to the piece that will in some way illuminate it rather than obfuscate it. If they are utilizing exercises that are generated from their own experience, be sure to discuss how the techniques used may be utilized in an illuminating and helpful manner when they are directing text that another person has written.

The inside out approach can be an amazing tool when used appropriately. Appropriateness is dictated by many factors, including the type of piece, whether it is devised or grounded on text created by someone else, such as a play, and the intention of creators.

  • This Author:

    Paul Mroczka

    Paul Mroczka has served Theatre By the Sea as associate director and playwright-in-residence. He has directed for companies including North Country Center for the Arts, Pontine Movement Theatre, The Theatre of Newburyport and the Palace Theatre. A former National Endowment for the Arts fellow in playwriting, he has also garnered a Shubert Fellowship, the Jason Miller Award and has received grants from the New Hampshire Council for the Humanities. His plays have been performed at New York’s La MaMa La Galleria, Nat Horne Theatre, and Manhattan Punchline Theatre, among others. His interactive planetarium show, Pathfinders, is running at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium in Concord, NH. Recent directorial assignments include Good People, Steel Magnolias, and The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) at The Barnstormers Playhouse in New Hampshire, and Rumors, Orpheus in the Underworld, and The Glass Menagerie at PSU. This summer Paul finished an initial draft of his new play, Smart Money ... Read Full
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