Tonight is our first meeting of the Cohort Club. A group of community members that will get to watch THE BOOK CLUB PLAY being made from beginning to end. Unprecedented access to all rehearsals, tech rehearsal and special events with the cast. We’re throwing the doors open.
So, one of the things I’m going to give them tonight is a quick tip sheet on “How To Watch Directing” by Jon Jory.
Jon and I have become great friends in the last year, but this I got in an odd way several years ago. While I was at Actors Theatre of Louisville, one day a fellow staff member was cleaning out their desk and handed me a file of all of Jory’s writings (teachings, board speeches, doodles). Apparently they had kept them thru the years and wanted to pass them on to someone as they were leaving.
And one of the notes was this. He had typed (yes, typed) it out for his directing interns.
It’s pretty great.
So, this is all Jory. But worth sharing with our Cohort Club and the world.
HOW TO WATCH DIRECTING by Jon Jory
- Does the director use the space in an interesting way? Is it in some sense wonderful to watch? Does the use of the space help you to understand the play? Does the behavior on the stage seem to fit the circumstances of the text?
- Is the acting good? (A good director has something to do with drawing out the actors’ strengths and hiding their weaknesses.) Do the actors relate to each other in a away that creates a chain of actions and reactions? Do you believe the relationships between people on stage?
- If you listened to the play as music, would you hear interesting rhythms? Is the play a good mix of fast and slow, loud and soft? The director has a lot to do with rhythm.
- Is the directing intent on clarifying the story and delivering the play’s message, or does it seem to be “showing off”? If it’s “showing off” does that assist your pleasure or detract from it?
- Good sets and costumes might speak well of the director, but they could be achieved without much input from her/him. Bad sets and costumes imply the director either lacks taste or control.
- Is the acting moving (a drama) or delightful (a comedy), or is it simply proficient? A good test of the director’s “heart”.
- What is “theatrical” about this production? Does it have any visual, aural or acting surprises? Anything beautiful? Anything you haven’t seen before? Is it generous in giving in the audience pleasure?
- Can you follow the story? Clarity is the director’s job.
- Is there a lot of variety or is it all pretty much one note? Variety in rhythm, tone, emotion or theatrically is a good sign the director’s hand is present.
- Does the play come together at the end? Has the director given closure and built its impact. You should be carried along; it shouldn’t end with a whimper.