I’m learning about Branding. It is one of those things for which I have no natural gifts, but it’s important and necessary in this industry.
One element of branding is to come up with some quick phrase that tells people a whole lot about who you are and what you are trying to accomplish in the world. Lucky for me, words are something I’m pretty good at.
When I first set up this website, I knew exactly what the tagline should be: “Directing is the Art of Listening.” It’s true, and I think it tells people most of what they need to know about my work.
But I have been thinking about the runners-up for that slot. The other day, describing my life as a freelance director, I said, “I go where the plays need me.” Katherine said, “That should be on your business cards.”
I’ve said that one for a while, and I thought it might be fun to share some of the other little catchphrases I have to describe my work.
I’m not a director, I’m an investor. I invest in actors. I spend our time together thinking, What can I do to help this person grow as an artist? How can I support their career? How can I create a relationship that takes place over a longer time than a rehearsal period?
Let’s pick the lock of the play together. I nearly never come into a production knowing what a play is truly about. I could have ideas, but they would all go out the window the minute they had to be carried about the stage by human bodies and energies. The architecture changes them. So instead of a concept, I come with questions and trust.
Actors are the best part of directing. Sometimes, by way of talking shop when we’re by ourselves, directors will share “actor problem” stories. I usually am a little shy in these situations, and just don’t share. The last time it came up, though, I was among people I had just met, and I heard myself saying, “We are not going to have that conversation. We couldn’t do our work without actors, and I will not participate in anything that degrades them.” Now that I have said those words–in an oddly impulsive move for me–I will never fail to say them.
I’m a story doula. I’m not here to tell you what the story is. I’m here to help it be born.
The only interesting things you can do onstage are to make a decision or make a discovery. Everything else is just getting you from one decision or discovery to the next. So don’t miss an opportunity to discover something or decide something (this is true in life as well).
Thank you for your work. I recently learned that actors I have worked with over the years have taken this phrase, my ritual of rehearsal closure, to other theaters where they have worked, where other people have picked this up. If this is my whole contribution to the American theater, it will be enough.