What Does A Theater Director Do?
Those plays and theatrical productions you see on Broadway or in less illustrious stages would not be possible without a theater director at the helm. As the captain of the ship, so to speak, theater directors steer the entire production team to come up with the most creative and entertaining presentation of a dramatic script or musical score. Everything that happens on and off the set that is related to the presentation has the director’s approval.
From choosing the cast members to designing the set to rehearsing the play to making the final performance, theater directors are responsible for every decision made. They conduct auditions to select the lead and supporting actors for the play. Directors also hire other members of the production crew—from set designers to costume designers to musicians.
Once the performers have been chosen, the directors craft a schedule for regular practices. They work with actors during rehearsals to polish their acting skills and instruct them on their blocking for various scenes of the presentation. They provide feedback to each actor on how their lines should be delivered, the appropriate gestures to do and what emotion should be portrayed in the scene. If they feel that the cast needs more work on their acting, they also schedule workshops and other acting development programs. They may also require actors to learn new skills if the script calls for it.
Theater directors also work together with the production’s creative teams to come up with the best stage design and costumes for the actors. They meet with set designers to decide on how the stage should look scene after scene following the script. They also meet with costume designers to determine the most appropriate costumes for the actors. If the play is set at a particular historical period, the costumes have to reflect the clothes worn during that time in order to add to the authenticity of the production.
Theater directors work closely with the scriptwriter of the play if it is a fresh script. They examine the script in detail to determine how best to present it to the audience. In the case of plays that have already been produced a number of times—such as in Shakespearean plays—theater directors simply find a way to improve its creative interpretation. They also work closely with the musical director to come up with the most appropriate musical score for the whole production.
Theater directors don’t just direct the entire production. They also serve as the liaison for all parties involved in the production. They serve to communicate the wishes of the producer to the cast and crew and vice-versa. If there are issues that performers have with each other or with other members of the crew, the director stays on top of the situation to ensure that their final objective of producing a presentation that can move the audience gets accomplished.
On the day of the production, theater directors don’t only have to deal with their own apprehensions about whether the play will turn out as expected. They also have to encourage actors—especially those who are having their debut in stage acting—to calm down, focus and give their best performance. Since theatrical presentations usually run for a certain number of days, one challenge for all directors is how to encourage their cast and crew members to give the same level of performance day in and day out. Each director has his ways, with the more seasoned ones knowing just how to motivate their actors to give strong performances every time.
The work of theater directors isn’t just confined to the stage. They also give interviews to various media outlets to help in promoting the production. They are also responsible for coming up with a production that meets the budget set forth by the executive producer who takes care of raising money for the show. Theater directors need to be resourceful and creative in coming up with ideas for props or costumes in case they have to work on a very tight budget. Budgetary concerns will also play a role in the casting of performers for the play as already established theater actors have higher talent fees than those who are still building their reputation in the theater industry.