New to Directing

Even in the afterglow from seeing the first show staged under my direction become a success, I recall the first rehearsal for Orson’s Shadow by Austin Pendleton. After settling in, I mixed-up stage left and stage right with only my endless pointing helping the poor actors. A friendly tap on the shoulder got us back on track. Although it goes without saying, directing involves a different way of thinking about a show from the perspective of an actor. Any first-time director is constantly learning and will be no stranger to a few moments of looking like a bit of a git.

During rehearsals, I asked myself, What do I look out for? and When do I look out for it? Playing around with a model set and Lego Minifigures only gets you so far and practical experience fills in a lot of gaps. With repetition, instincts form for when you need to stop a scene in motion and which notes out of all your scribbles are the important ones to pass on to your cast. Established directors can help with teaching anyone the ropes. I never chose to be an assistant director before diving headfirst into the job, but I did find sitting in on someone else’s audition panel and prep meetings as an observer incredibly helpful for my own planning.

I was lucky to have so many talented people involved in Orson’s Shadow across eighteen months during a pandemic. Forming a good technical team in advance is crucial. Asking people for help and creating opportunities for new members will be to your advantage.

There was a lot of joy to be found in being at the helm of a show, understanding what collaboration in an ensemble group really means, and the work that goes into creating a safe space to fail by building up trust between everyone. Walking into the rehearsal room relaxed makes a huge difference but that’s not to say I always kept my cool. At times, I thought I wouldn’t have any friends left by showtime. That was spawned from moments when it was too easy to really feel frustration from my insecurities or a bit of monomania funneled into a persona that was harsher than it should have been. After a few days like that, you find a way to work at things differently. Thank God for having a forgiving cast and crew. Half the fun is realising just how creative you can get when collaborating properly.

Going back to the beginning, most might say a first step can often be the hardest one to take. For me though, that step became the easiest. My foray into directing was energised by a deep love of a play about theatre with a script that is a tad outside the norm, and written by a fellow theatre geek. I know Orson Welles will remain an obsession of mine until the day I die. I had some grand ideas set in a clear vision, took risks, dedicated time, and cast it right. I know this because my cast had me laughing at my favourite lines every time. Our amazing team brought the production to life and for that, I am forever thankful.

Glenbrook Players certainly welcomes new directors and interesting theatre. If anyone has found their passion project play I encourage you to make it happen, your audience will love you for it.

Written by Josh Stojanovic

Joshua Stojanovic has been involved in every performance put on by Glenbrook Players since he joined in 2016. He enjoys serving on our committee and helping organise social events. He was roped into drama in his teens when offered a role as an eccentric Scottish fisherman in a short play and now enjoys learning all he can about theatre.

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