Convener(s): Ginnie Stephens

Participants: Roddy Maude-Roxby, Tom Wright, Charlotte Cunningham, Patrick O’Kane, Helen Stern, Laura Cubitt, Chris Wright.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

What if the director went away?
Bill Gascoigne (Royal Court): “Like an army without a General”.
Some directors feel they are the audiences’ eye- standing on the outside. Can you be impartial/ truly able to be ‘outside’ as someone with a vested interest in a show though? What about the notion of a dramaturg- do we agree with Howard Barker’s ‘All dramaturgs are cunts?’. Dramaturgies exist regardless of employing a dramaturg, though this person could serve as an impartial outsider eye. Helpful to have external input free from institutional agenda. Nobody really knows what dramaturgs are, although those who’ve worked with them think good ones are invaluable. Do we need a more European model?

Actors like to have directors because they can’t see from inside the show and have to rely on someone else. Good as long as they are not too controlled.

Where does/ should the power lie?

‘Visions’ v. directorial signatures- people opt to pay and see a show because of the idiosyncracies of its creators/ director; although some directors are wilfully extreme. Is it the right of a director to impose a ‘vision’ onto a pre-existent literary text, or distort that of the audience? There need to be gaps for all- most especially the audience- around the director’s bubble. Actors end up doing things on their own if they’re not given enough or too much direction, but then many directors lose interest in a show once it’s ‘up’ anyway because it becomes owned by the actors. Control. Ego.

Need more room for impro.

Devised work can easily become leaderless and fluffy rather than democratic.

‘Autocratic democrat’?

Big difference between something that feels good in the rehearsal room and then works well onstage. How to have perspective?

Can you study to be a director?

Most felt the idea of the autocratic director is now outmoded/ antiquated; though working situations in some performance pieces outside buildings necessitate the director taking on role of health and safety officer etc etc.

The people least being actor-managers should play lead roles- an unhelpful clash.

Relationship between theatre and wider world of arts imperative.

Broken rules and running free. With Theatre Machine, all had a go at things and it worked. We shouldn’t be afraid of putting ourselves into other/ scary roles occasionally.

Jazz- Miles Davis analogy as the master director. ‘How do I know how to play? Just listen’.

‘Director’ is used to cover the role of the person who facilitates; who gets a piece of theatre working in the rehearsal room and then manages to translate this to actually working on the stage.

We quite like directors but, especially with devised work, this is a function within generating a piece of theatre and not necessarily one fixed person’s role (though the person wearing the hat should imbue the requisite qualities of a facilitator/ caring parent/ someone who finds and draws on the best available input from the others). Interesting sparks occur when more than one person assumes the hat at once…

Good at casting

Keep the notion of ‘director’ and be aware of the ‘finds direction’ versus ‘imposes direction’ continuum (veering towards the former).