DIRECTOR’S THEATRE (Actor’s Theatre?) -- (The) Changing relationships between Actors, Writers and Directors

Convener(s): Sam Jones 

Participants: Lots but forgot to pass the paper round but included Lisa Wolfe, Johnny McG, Tony B, Annette and many more

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

These things and many others were said: 

Director as Auteur

Director as person with strong Aesthetic. Difference between old meaning of director’s theatre ie P Brook etc and meaning of this phrase (if any) now.

Lisa gave 2 example of artists she had worked with:

  • writer and performer who worked with 2 co-directors and was able to separate writing self and performing self
  • Director in devising process – who needed to and was allowed by the actors eventually to take ownership of the process

The style of a production is defined by the director

Complicite – v collaborative, but with a particular aesthetic, and director led

Some notions of directors theatre = actor as puppet

Director as editor of actor’s ideas – various egs including Propeller

Dee – in her ensemble she wanted the actors to have a voice but initially like pulling teeth.

Are actors not political enough

Lots of discussion about Good Faith and Bad Faith in the relationship between actor and director (and writer)

The director tends to be the one that takes the first leap of faith

Actors need to create companies

Actors need to remind themselves of what they bring uniquely to the table – they are usually too compliant

The wasted resource of the ensemble ref. Propeller

Colchester – and ensemble of 20 actors – the work programmed around them.

The director is an outside eye

When devising you don’t want someone to intrude on that or dilute the process – however it is useful to have an editor – shaping force – the dilemma of having a director in the devising process

Need actors to invest in the audience – sometimes the director is the guardian of that relationship

The audience comes to see the actors and the story primarily

The ensemble model has come back into fashion

Is director’s theatre a reaction to the move towards ensemble and democracy in theatre – directors digging their heels in against this movement

The director’s aesthetic – the benevolent dictator who cedes power to a collaborative ensemble

Is there a collective responsibility to finish a project even if the actors don’t agree on the aesthetic

Directors can leave once the rehearsal process is done – actors need to go on every night.

Actors don’t feel they have the right to speak.  They are trained not to intervene in other peoples’ process

We need longer rehearsal periods

More workshops

Better communication about process before and during rehearsal

The actor needs to own the work but the director is editor of the whole vision


Actors like being directed

Director – a person who frames the questions

It is the actor’s job to go in with an open mind

It is about the director, the actors and the writers all not thinking they have all the answers

Director – a holder of the framework

Who makes decisions?  Who has agency?

Actors self regulators of the work

An actor has a lot to give a writer – about whether stories or voices are sufficiently developed and illuminated

New work is enriched when actor’s voices are allowed

However:  Vulnerability – needing the director as a referee and filter of the actors input to the writer

The focus is different with new writing – ie wanting the play to be as good as possible/ focus on how is it best realized

Different with a classic play – more about the particular director’s vision

What are audiences going for?