Directing Aesthetic

When directing in either a professional or academic environment, my aesthetic begins and ends with the spoken word. There are so many variables in theatre- the limitations placed upon us by design budgets, the relative abilities of technical crews, the varying proficiency levels of actors, etc. One variable always under our control is the actual telling of the story itself, and every production I have ever directed has, at its core, a crisp clarity of storytelling. The emotions in Theatre, particularly the Lyric Theatre of classical text, are huge, as are the words used to express them. Therefore, I always focus first and foremost on the actor’s personalization and clarity of thought, and how that connection both supports and is reflected in each and every word, as well as how that personal support illuminates the transitions in a production, ultimately defining it.

I begin every production around a table with the actors- hammering out the story between us, for it is here, in the spirited exploration of the text that a company mindset is forged. My greatest task in every production is not merely to find a compelling story in the material, but to find a story that my cast can connect with on a gestalt level. We share the story, discovering it as we explore the shifting tides of the smallest transition, and the further we explore, the more the cast begins to tell the story as a company, and not simply a collection of performances. I take pride in the fact that in my productions, the cast members always feel a deep passionate ownership of the story they are telling, and through this it becomes their story. I honestly believe this ownership of text and story is palpable to an audience, and if there is a common spirit among my productions, it is this.

My productions always focus their sharpest, however, on the quiet, seemingly simple moments that bring about the most profound change in character. For example, near the end of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Portia, in disguise, tests her love Bassanio by requesting his ring. Bassanio denies her, and she leaves, relieved. His dear friend Antonio, however, demands that Bassanio value his “love” over his wife’s “commandment,” and so Bassanio relents. It is that moment that I chose to focus on- that tiny moment after Bassanio is pressured and before he relents- for in it, he sees his friend in an entirely different fashion, and not an agreeable one. The seeds of Bassanio’s ultimate salvation lie in this moment, as he is now finally prepared to give himself completely to Portia when she confronts him with this dreadful mistake. I passionately believe that it is within the dense intellectual knots of moments such as this where a story is most exquisitely told, and it the thoughtful untangling of these knots that have always, and will always, define the productions I direct.