16 December 2012
I think I’ve had an insight into why director’s theatre has become so prevalent in British theatre. By director’s theatre, I mean productions where the director’s “vision” swamps the play and the production. I often feel that directors have asked themselves not "what is this play about?" but "what can I do with this play?" I’ve just directed TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN, where my focus has been to find the best way to tell the story. Each day we got nearer to opening, the actors took their performances to new levels and all the different designers moved in to do their work. And by the opening performance I felt I had achieved my aim – the production was telling the story. In my view, if the director has done a good job, they disappear from the production. I don’t know why you would want the audience to notice your direction. You want the audience to become engrossed in the story, not to be aware of the technique you have used to tell the story. And so you become unseen. Which is quite challenging to the ego. The whole focus of the show is now on the actors and the story - and the director disappears. In my view this is exactly as it should be, but I can see why some directors – many of whom wanted to be actors – resist this disappearance act and want to impose themselves onto the production so that everyone sees them. They want to remain at the centre of the show. To be acknowledged. To be seen. And critics love director's theatre because it gives them something to write about. Done well, a play speaks for itself. But critics love writing about how it's been done - and it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. It’s been a small revelation as to why British theatre has moved in this direction (no pun intended).
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