On Saturday, March 9, we held our first event of the new year with a panel entitled “The Director’s Perspective.”
Just as every playwright is different, we were lucky to have five NJ and NYC-based directors—Elena Araoz, Allison Benko, Cheryl Katz, Alex Tobey, and Adin Walker—sharing their unique perspectives and thoughts on a variety of subjects. Some of the highlights included:
• The best time for a playwright to reach out to a director (no surprise the answer is, “It depends” – but to be clear about what stage you think the play is in and what specifically you’re looking for with a director);
• Dos and don’ts in reaching out to directors (do include why you’re reaching out to this specific director; don’t just send a play and expect the director is going to get you a production; do allow yourself to be “pushy” and reach out to a director asking them if they’ve gotten to your script yet but don’t be obnoxious about it);
• The ideal playwright/director relationship (the analogy that kept coming up is that of a marriage. Just as every marriage is different, every playwright/director relationship is different. “Date” a director first if you can. Have coffee, talk to each other about your play and their work and talk about things that aren’t about your play and their work. Clear communication of expectations, problems, questions, and concerns throughout is vital toward creating a successful relationship).
Here are some responses from DG members who attended:
“I found the panel very helpful, only having worked with a few directors in my time and often not knowing how much input I should offer in front of actors. I also found it useful to hear that the directors have quite different approaches. What was very helpful for me was to hear was Elena’s suggestion to be pushy as I’m not naturally pushy. Thanks for offering these opportunities.” – LESLEY SCAMMELL
“[Here are some] points I took home with me—food for thought.
• The director as the author of the production, not of the play, but definitely of the production. I think it’s true.
• The degrees and methods expressed by the directors about working collaboratively with the playwright, very open for the most part, and intrinsic to each.
• The bring-the-director-along quandary, both for the director and the playwright. What happens if a ‘divorce’ appears necessary for the good of the project as it moves towards production and producers/venues are brought on?
• Power and non-power of the director; where it might lay with each playwright-play-workshop-production.
• Synchronicity - Personal? Professional? Mutual devotion to the project?
• When to walk if the sync isn’t working.
• A director’s trajectory with a project, A to Z, or anywhere in between.
• “Points of view on directing musicals.” – HANA ROTH SEAVEY
“It was good to hear from directors who are interested in working with new plays. Sometimes, the solitary occupation of writing and sending plays can be frustrating. This event was informative, congenial, and invigorating.” – BENJAMIN V. MARSHALL
Thank you to the directors who offered their time and thoughts, to Art House Productions for hosting the event, and to the incredible playwrights that came and asked great questions and made for another great New Jersey DG event.