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Directors Notes 7 – Good theatre means great teamwork!

Hi Everyone

It’s been a while since I’ve written, so here we go.

Group dynamics are so important when choosing an ensemble to collaborate on a piece of work.

As a director, actors’ resumes are always impressive, have lots of beautiful headshots and videos…but to me that doesn’t necessarily tell me who they are or if they have any acting skill or passion for the work.

Most important to me as a director is the ability for actors or anyone I work with to be

  • open to change
  • reliable (that means turn up!)
  • communicative (respond to texts, emails etc.)
  • patient (we are all on a journey together and it takes time to produce good work).

These virtues can be hard to find. When you meet those ‘virtues’ in a person they “shine”.

In my view, the director’s role is not only to ‘direct’ the work but to engage the ensemble in the work, and bring them to a greater understanding of the work. Now, if the director is also the writer, this is even more important and can be difficult.

As the writer and director of SNUG|VENT I do struggle with receiving criticism about my work. Everyone does, and the first reaction is to “protect the work” like a mother protects her baby. However, I feel that constructive feedback is delivered differently to criticism.

It’s all about delivery in acting – and that goes for giving and receiving feedback – step into the other person’s shoes and try and understand how they may feel about something you say:

  • the words you use
  • the tone
  • the volume
  • the intent

We can all use refresher training in those skills.

If you have ever studied group dynamics there are three main phases – ‘Forming’, ‘Storming’ and ‘Norming’.

Forming The actors audition, the ensemble forms everyone is new and it’s like falling in love or the ‘honeymoon period’.

Storming The ensemble works together, eats and travels together, discovers challenges, obstacles, and problem solves together to make good work.

Norming The ensemble has usually performed together and achieved something together, and this is where individual actors, directors and crew are ready to move on to their next project – and that is the natural progression in the life of theatre.

Share the experience

Ensemble work is never only one person – it’s about the whole group, the whole persons in that group – everyone is important. There is no room for “divas” or “demands”.

One of my pastimes is water sports – rowing and dragonboating – the boat does not go unless the whole crew is there – and they need to row/paddle in time/in sync with each other. The same goes for the actors’ ensemble – everyone needs to respect each other’s time, energy, passions and commitments. ‘Charity starts at home’ – the actors ensemble is a family, a community and often eats together, cries together, laughs together, travels together  and has the presence of soul to commit to those things.

Think about it

Does a surgeon stop an operation because they need a cup of coffee?

Does a mother still get out of bed when she is tired to feed her baby?

How can you contribute positively to your team today?

Actions always speak louder than words. Notice people’s actions, more than their words.

Until next time
Take care xo

Director, PUMP Theatre

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