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.