Directing the spring play

After reading the following guidelines, please email me if you are still interested. You must be a junior or senior to apply and I will give preference to seniors. Two students may apply to co-direct, but I will not consider more than two co-directors for a play. Also, I am willing to consider two one acts directed by different students (each one act could be directed by two students). You should reply by January 10 if you (and a co-director) are interested, but you do not need to tell me what play you want to direct or if it is a full-length play or a one-act). The formal application will be posted after January 10 and will be due February 7.

Cast size: The absolute minimum is 15 speaking roles – and this does not include any extras you may put in. If the listed cast size is less than 15 (without doubling) do not even consider it. I will give preference to larger cast sizes.

Appropriateness: The play must be appropriate for a general audience. It does not have to be a children’s show – it can deal with important issues and themes like Second Samuel and Radium Girls – but it should not be a play that pushes the boundaries on an issue. Please see me if you have concerns or questions about this.

Feasibility: You will have 6 weeks to put this play together. This has numerous ramifications.

  • The actors will have only four weeks to memorize their lines. You should look for an ensemble play with many balanced roles and not a play that focuses on just one or two characters.
  • The play should not be too long. It should be two acts at the most, and 90 minutes or less. You will not have time to put together a sweeping epic.
  • You should look for a play that has scenes that do not involve the entire cast. Blocking a scene that has the entire cast in it can be tricky and time-consuming, and you just don’t have time to spare.
  • You should look for a script that is fairly easy to understand. You do not have the luxury of spending a week diving into the language and meaning of the script. So, no Shakespeare. You should look for something relatively modern.

Tech requirements: There should not be extensive set/tech/costume requirements. I can have my tech theater class build sets, but they will not have the time to build a two story house on a rotating platform. The less set and costume requirements, the better.

Budget: You will have a very limited budget. Your first question should be, “Can we do this play with the costumes, sets and props we currently have or can make without buying anything new?” If the answer is no, then you should probably look for a different play.

Audience: You, your actors and your crew deserve a large audience, so don’t choose something too obscure. This is not your chance to bring about a greater appreciation of the works of Christopher Marlowe or expose the audience to the traditional art form of Kabuki theater.

Impact on Society: Stop. Just stop. I don’t want to hear about how your play will change the world. And I say that having directed plays that dealt with: alcoholism; mortality and death; sexual abuse; and grief and revenge. I chose those plays because they were engaging stories that would move people, and maybe – just maybe – change a few people. Your job as a director is to choose a story that is engaging to the actors and to the audience. And I believe that making people laugh is as important as making them think. One of the best and most intelligent actors I have ever worked with told me that her favorite experience was not the deep and disturbing play in which she was named Best Actress at the one act competition, but Meat Gone Bad, a very silly play set in a grocery store where the meat section tries to take over the produce section. Don’t over-think your choice. Find something that is fun and engaging.

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