I have been directing a play for the last month or so. (Actually I’ve been consumed with it for 6 months.) Not a short play with 25 kids in a workshop like I’ve done before, not a play with my fellow college students in the cast like I’ve done before, but a full length, 3 act play with real professional actors. It has been quite the experience.
For the most part I have been overwhelmed with set design and prop gathering and logistics, but last night after rehearsal, with a snow day ahead, I had a moment to pause and reflect. I’ve decided that directing is kind of like being a parent.
When you are a parent, you do your best to give your kids a frame work to build on, but you can’t live their life for them. As a parent you try to be there for your child, but not smother them.
When you have kids you have to be flexible and adjust, each child is different and needs a different level of help and guidance. With kids you often have to put what they need ahead of your own wants.
Even with parenting classes and all of the books I read, I was not really prepared to be a parent when it happened.
I learned that parenting is a lot more about listening, than talking.
Above all, you have absolutely no idea what is ahead of you or how things will turn out. When you are a parent, you are never sure that you have done the right thing, in fact 99% of the time you feel pretty confident that you have NOT done the right thing.
As a director I have tried to give the actors a framework to build on, without stifling their thoughts and ideas. I have tried to give them advice without smothering their own creativity.
I have tried to be flexible and let the actors take the lead, letting them show me what they need and how much they want my help. I have tried to not be upset if they wanted to do something their way sometimes instead of my way. I have tried to adjust as time went on.
As with parenting, I was never sure what I was doing. Even with 55 years experience in the theatre and all of the directing classes my university had to offer, it was like stepping off into the unknown. 99% of the time I was sure that I had NOT done the right thing.
I enjoyed listening to the cast as they swapped stories, and although I had my own stories to share, I tried to keep quiet and listen so that they could bond as a group.
Above all, I have waited patiently, thinking that I have probably done everything wrong, just like I felt as a parent. But there comes that day when your kid is grown and goes out into the world. There is that day that you realize that between God’s help and good fortune you actually produced a pretty cool person, so maybe you did a little something right.
Last night as I watched the show for the first time with all of the effects, costumes, props, and food, I realized that somehow with God’s help, a talented cast, and good fortune I had produced a really good show, so maybe, just maybe I did a little something right.
I don’t know if directing is for me. I’ll have to think it over after this weekend. I like being a little cog in the wheel- I don’t know if I am cut out to drive the whole wagon. But I know that this experience has changed me and how I look at the theatre. It has given me a new creativity and a better understanding of what it is to collaborate. Whatever I do next, it will be better because of this cast and this experience.