The summer of 2021 has been all about cleaning out a house and a garage, arranging a tool sale, and doing other online selling. Now, however, thoughts turn to a last minute vacation and, immediately following, the start of a new semester and academic year. Notably, I will retire at the end of this year, and so I’m interested in documenting some of the processes I use in teaching and, perhaps more importantly, in directing.
In order to begin the directing process, I began with a lot of xeroxing and paper cutting. I’m pretty old school in this regard, and do this the way I have been doing it for decades. I took the published script and xeroxed a copy of it. Then I cut each page separately and, returning to the xerox machine, copied each page at 125%. This yields the basics for my prompt book in which I will write all my blocking, notes to actors, and lighting and sound cues. (I pretty much always design my own sound so I will likely cover that in another post.)
Meanwhile, I have a thick packet or paper to punch holes in, and then insert them into the binder which will be my constant companion for rehearsals. Of course, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Once I am past blocking and am working with the actors, I have the script handy (to check for blocking notes if there’s a question) but I rarely look at it in rehearsal. One of the things I always tell my directing students is to look at the stage and actors, not at the script. The text is there and unchanging, but what happens on stage and the interaction between director and actors is the most important part of the rehearsal process.
In the past Covid year, I did two shows online: An Enemy of the People as a radio drama and an adaptation of Hamlet as a Zoom play. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to being back in person and face-to-face—even if masked—to stage a show. (Masks will be mandated but not the vaccine, and I have some problems with that, but we do what we can.)