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How to Go From Acting to Directing

Written By Elias Stimac
Your Host Dan Woren
Published: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

 

Every actor, at one point or another, considers the idea of directing. Some of the world’s top film stars have successfully taken control of a movie project.  It also happens with a lot television and theatre performers. If you have a desire to direct but only have acting on your resume, here are some things to consider when making the transition.

When directors initially consider a new script, they usually approach it from a specific point of view. Their take on the material might be traditional or unconventional, subtle or outrageous, but it should never be boring.

Stage directors and helmers of film remakes have the most leeway when it comes to creating a unique concept. They may choose to alter elements of a story in order to bring new insights to the piece. Of course, changing or reworking scripted pieces requires the author’s or copyright owner’s written permission.

You may experiment freely, however, with material in the public domain; that is, works no longer protected by copyright.  The plays of Shakespeare, Molière, and Chekhov, for example, all fall into the public domain category.  In general, all material published in the United States before 1923 is in the public domain.  Go to  http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html for complete details on how to determine what is and what is not still covered by copyright in the United States.

So as a new theatre director, how do you find a winning concept? There are many ways to reinvent plays with a directorial concept. Here are just a few to start your creative juices flowing:

· Set the play in a different time or era.

· Set the play in a different place or location.

· Use nontraditional and multiracial casting.

· Change the sexes or ages of certain characters.

These ideas work best when you are inspired by the material you are directing. But, what if you are assigned to direct a script that does not prompt a clear-cut directorial concept or simply does not speak to you? You don’t necessarily have to take the job, but if you’re willing to give it a try, you may want to employ one or more of the following activities to spark your imagination:

· Put together an impromptu reading, offering no direction or guidance. You’ll be amazed at what actors can come up with from a simple read-through.

· Read other scripts by the same writer, which will give you a larger appreciation for and wider perspective on how the play fits into his or her body of work.

· Analyze other movies, TV shows, or plays and see if you can apply one of the concepts in from those to your current show.

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