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A theatre director or stage director is a professional in the theatre field who oversees and orchestrates the mounting of a theatre production such as a play, opera, dance, drama, musical theatre performance, etc. by unifying various endeavors and aspects of production. The director's function is to ensure the quality and completeness of theatre production and to lead the members of the creative team into realizing their artistic vision for it. The director thereby collaborates with a team of creative individuals and other staff to coordinate research and work on all the aspects of the production which includes the Technical and the Performance aspects. The technical aspects include: stagecraft, costume design, theatrical properties (props), lighting design, set design, and sound design for the production. The performance aspects include: acting, dance, orchestra, chants, and stage combat.
If the production is a new piece of writing or a (new) translation of a play, the director may also work with the playwright or a translator. In contemporary theatre, after the playwright, the director is generally the principle visionary, making decisions on the artistic conception and interpretation of the play and its staging. Different directors occupy different places of authority and responsibility, depending on the structure and philosophy of individual theatre companies. Directors use a wide variety of techniques, philosophies, and levels of collaboration.
In ancient Greece, the birthplace of European drama, the writer bore principal responsibility for the staging of his plays. Actors were generally semi-professionals, and the director oversaw the mounting of plays from the writing process all the way through to their performance, often acting in them too, as Aeschylus for example did. The author-director would also train the chorus, sometimes compose the music, and supervise every aspect of production. The fact that the director was called didaskalos, the Greek word for "teacher," indicates that the work of these early directors combined instructing their performers with staging their work.
In medieval times, the complexity of vernacular religious drama, with its large scale mystery plays that often included crowd scenes, processions and elaborate effects, gave the role of director (or stage manager or pageant master) considerable importance. A miniature by Jean Fouquet from 1460 (pictured) bears one of the earliest depictions of a director at work. Holding a prompt book, the central figure directs, with the aid of a long stick, the proceedings of the staging of a dramatization of the Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia . According to Fouquet, the director's tasks included overseeing the erecting of a stage and scenery (there were no permanent, purpose-built theatre structures at this time, and performances of vernacular drama mostly took place in the open air), casting and directing the actors (which included fining them for those that infringed rules), and addressing the audience at the beginning of each performance and after each intermission.
From Renaissance times up until the 19th century, the role of director was often carried by the actor-manager . This would usually be a senior actor in a troupe who took the responsibility for choosing the repertoire of work, staging it and managing the company. This was the case for instance with Commedia dell'Arte companies and English actor-managers like Colley Cibber and David Garrick.
The modern theatre director can be said to have originated in the staging of elaborate spectacles of the Meininger Company under George II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. The management of large numbers of extras and complex stagecraft matters necessitated an individual to take on the role of overall coordinator.This gave rise to the role of the director in modern theatre, and Germany would provide a platform for a generation of emerging visionary theatre directors, such as Erwin Piscator and Max Reinhardt. Simultaneously, Constantin Stanislavski, principally an actor-manager, would set up the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia and similarly emancipate the role of the director as artistic visionary.
The French regisseur is also sometimes used to mean a stage director, most commonly in ballet. A more common term for theatre director in French is metteur en scène.
Post World War II, the actor-manager slowly started to disappear, and directing become a fully fledged artistic activity within the theatre profession. The director originating artistic vision and concept, and realizing the staging of a production, became the norm rather than the exception. Great forces in the emancipation of theatre directing as a profession were notable 20th-century theatre directors like Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Yevgeny Vakhtangov, Michael Chekhov, Yuri Lyubimov (Russia), Orson Welles, Peter Brook, Peter Hall (Britain), Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Giorgio Strehler, and Franco Zeffirelli (Italy).
A cautionary note was introduced by the famed director Sir Tyrone Guthrie who said "the only way to learn how to direct a play, is ... to get a group of actors simple enough to allow you to let you direct them, and direct".[ citation needed ]
A number of seminal works on directing and directors include Toby Cole and Helen Krich's 1972 Directors on Directing: A Sourcebook of the Modern Theatre, Edward Braun's 1982 book The Director and the Stage: From Naturalism to Growtowski, and Will's The Director in a Changing Theatre (1976).
Because of the relatively late emergence of theatre directing as a performing arts profession when compared with for instance acting or musicianship, a rise of professional vocational training programmes in directing can be seen mostly in the second half of the 20th century. Most European countries nowadays know some form of professional directing training, usually at drama schools or conservatoires, or at universities. In Britain, the tradition that theatre directors emerge from degree courses (usually in English literature) at the Oxbridge universities has meant that for a long time, professional vocational training did not take place at drama schools or performing arts colleges, although an increase in training programmes for theatre directors can be witnessed since the 1970s and 1980s. In American universities, the seminal directing program at the Yale School of Drama produced a number of pioneering directors with D.F.A. (Doctor of Fine Arts) and M.F.A. degrees in Drama (rather than English) who contributed to the expansion of professional resident theaters in the 1960s and 1970s. In the early days such programmes typically led to the staging of one major thesis production in the third (final) year. At the University of California, Irvine, Keith Fowler (a Yale D.F.A. and ex-producer of two LORT companies) led for many years a graduate programme based on the premise that directors are autodidacts who need as many opportunities to direct as possible. Under Fowler, graduate student directors would stage between five and ten productions during their three-year residencies, with each production receiving detailed critiques.
As with many other professions in the performing arts, theatre directors would often learn their skills "on the job"; to this purpose, theatres often employ trainee assistant directors or have in-house education schemes to train young theatre directors. Examples are the Royal National Theatre in London, which frequently organizes short directing courses, or the Orange Tree Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse on London's West End, which both employ resident assistant directors on a one-year basis for training purposes.
Directing is an art form that has grown with the development of theatre theory and theatre practice. With the emergence of new trends in theatre, so too have directors adopted new methodologies and engaged in new practices. Interpretation of the drama, by the late twentieth century, had become central to the director's work. Relativism and psychoanalytic theory influenced the work of innovative directors such as Peter Brook, Ingmar Bergman, Peter Stein, and Giorgio Strehler.:)
Kimberly Senior, director of Disgraced on Broadway, explains her role as director by saying “I get to take things that were previously in one dimension and put them into three dimensions using my imagination and intellect and people skills.”
Once a show has opened (premiered before a regular audience), theatre directors are generally considered to have fulfilled their function. From that point forward the stage manager is left in charge of all essential concerns.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to theatre:
Jerzy Marian Grotowski was a Polish theatre director and theorist whose innovative approaches to acting, training and theatrical production have significantly influenced theatre today. He was born in Rzeszów, in South-eastern Poland in 1933 and studied acting and directing at the Ludwik Solski Academy of Dramatic Arts in Kraków and Russian Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow. He debuted as a director in 1957 in Kraków with Eugène Ionesco's play Chairs and shortly afterwards founded a small Laboratory Theatre in 1959 in the town of Opole in Poland. During the 1960s, the company began to tour internationally and his work attracted increasing interest. As his work gained wider acclaim and recognition, Grotowski was invited to work in the United States and he left Poland in 1982. Although the company he founded in Poland closed a few years later in 1984, he continued to teach and direct productions in Europe and America. However, Grotowski became increasingly uncomfortable with the adoption and adaptation of his ideas and practices, particularly in the US. So, at what seemed to be the height of his public profile, he left America and moved to Italy where he established the Grotowski Workcenter in 1985 in Pontedera, near Pisa. At this centre he continued his theatre experimentation and practice and it was here that he continued to direct training and private theatrical events almost in secret for the last twenty years of his life. Suffering from leukemia and a heart condition, he died in 1999 at his home in Pontedera.
Stage management is a broad field that is generally defined as the practice of organization and coordination of an event or theatrical production. Stage management may encompass a variety of activities including the overseeing of the rehearsal process and coordinating communications among various production teams and personnel. Stage management requires a general understanding of all aspects of production and offers organisational support to ensure the process runs smoothly and efficiently.
Stagecraft is a technical aspect of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes constructing and rigging scenery; hanging and focusing of lighting; design and procurement of costumes; make-up; stage management; audio engineering; and procurement of props. Stagecraft is distinct from the wider umbrella term of scenography. Considered a technical rather than an artistic field, it is primarily the practical implementation of a scenic designer's artistic vision.
An artistic director is the executive of an arts organization, particularly in a theatre or dance company, who handles the organization's artistic direction. They are generally a producer and director, but not in the sense of a mogul, since the organization is generally a non-profit organization. The artistic director of a theatre company is the individual with the overarching artistic control of the theatre's production choices, directorial choices, and overall artistic vision. In smaller theatres, the artistic director may be the founder of the theatre and the primary director of its plays. In larger non-profit theatres, the artistic director may be appointed by the board of directors.
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.
Adolphe Appia, son of Red Cross co-founder Louis Appia, was a Swiss architect and theorist of stage lighting and décor.
Amateur theatre, also known as amateur dramatics, is theatre performed by amateur actors and singers. Amateur theatre groups may stage plays, revues, musicals, light opera, pantomime or variety shows, and do so for the social activity as well as the artistic side. Productions may take place in venues ranging from the open air, community centres or schools to independent or major professional theatres and can be simple light entertainment or demanding drama.
A dialect coach is an acting coach who helps an actor design the voice and speech of a character in the context of an on-camera, stage, radio or animation voiceover production. The dialect coach often does original research on dialects and speech patterns, prepares training materials, provides instruction and works on lines with the actor. A dialect coach will give the actor feedback focusing on issues of credibility, consistency, and clarity. A dialect coach may also be employed to help comedians hone impressions of celebrities, to train non-actor public speakers in vocal character and delivery, or to help singers improve in diction and attain a balance between tone and articulation, especially when singing in a second language.
Hull Truck Theatre is a theatre in Kingston upon Hull, England, which presents substantial drama productions. It also tours its productions on a regular basis.
Performing arts – are art forms where the participant engages in a physical performance using their body, voice, language, or use of specific equipment for entertainment purposes.
A theatrical technician, is a person who operates technical equipment and systems in the performing arts and entertainment industry. In contrast to performers, this broad category contains all "unseen" theatrical personnel who practice stagecraft and are responsible for the logistic and production-related aspects of a performance including designers, operators, and supervisors. Many professional designers and technicians consider the diminutive "techie" to be offensive.
Cardboard Citizens is the UK's only homeless people's professional theatre company, and the leading practitioner of Forum Theatre and the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology in the UK. The acclaimed theatre company works with people who have experience of homelessness or those at risk of becoming homeless to create theatre that makes a real and positive difference to society and those living in its margins.
Laterna magika, largely considered the world's first multimedia theatre, was founded as a cultural program at the 1958 Brussels Expo. It launched its official activity on 9 May 1959, as an independent company of the National Theatre, performing at the Adria palace in Prague. Wonderful Circus, which premiered in 1977, is the most frequently performed theatre piece in Central Europe, and has remained in the repertoire ever since. Laterna magika now is one of the ensembles of the National Theatre, based at the New Stage of the National Theatre in Prague. Laterna magika productions blend various genres, ranging from dramatic acting through affording a dominant role to dance and ballet to mime and Black Theatre. All of their productions have been original works directly created for the company, not ready-made pieces, which, with a few exceptions, have never subsequently appeared in the repertoire of another company. The fundamental principle has been gradually supplemented with new technologies, for instance, digital projection or new media, including real-time programmable software.
Kuo Pao Kun was a playwright, theatre director, and arts activist in Singapore who wrote and directed both Mandarin and English plays. He founded three arts and drama centres in Singapore, conducted and organised a number of drama seminars and workshops, and mentored Singaporean and foreign directors and artists. Kuo is acknowledged by both locals and foreigners as the pioneer of Singapore theatre, and was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1990 for his contributions to Singapore theatre. His plays are characterised for their dramatic and social commentary, use of simple metaphors and multiculturalism themes, and have been staged locally and internationally.
The School of Drama is an undergraduate and graduate theatre school in the Arts Division of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.
An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of a role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. This can also be considered an "actor's role," which was called this due to scrolls being used in the theaters. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.
Jason Klarwein is an Australian Actor, Director, Producer and Artistic Director.
Timothy Bond is the Head of the Professional Actor Training Program and professor at the University of Washington School of Drama.
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