So. You are doing shows on a fairly regular basis. You have friends, family, other directors, teachers, maybe even reviewers giving you their opinion on your performance and the show as a whole. Your parents may have very strong views on what should be changed. Here is the hard truth.
You only have ONE DIRECTOR.
You may have a music director, a choreographer, an assistant director and a coach, but the director of the show is the one who is captaining your ship. What the director says goes, and the way you have been rehearsed is the way you need to perform, no matter who tells you what. You hare going to have some horrible directors and some brilliant friends. You are going to hear things that would totally change the show for the better.
YOU CANNOT CHANGE WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DIRECTED TO DO.
It doesn’t matter if they are right. You have been given your orders, and you need to carry them out in order to tell the story that the director wants to tell.
There is room for improvement- of course there is! And we are in live theatre, not film, so each performance will not be identical to the last. But we strive for that. As you get to higher and higher levels, you will find t he shows tend to be closer and closer to identical each performance. But the proper way to make changes is through the director, and if you are already in performances, you go to the director through the stage manager if you want to make a change.
What is the phrase?
Ah yes, the phrase. This is the magic phrase that is going to get you out of many a weird conversation with people who have strong (and maybe great) opinions on how you could make your show better:
“That is a great idea! Let me run that past my director.”
This phrase does three things:
- It validates the person’s idea or opinion.
- It reminds both of you that there is a director and a professional protocol that needs to be respected.
- Perhaps you will actually run their idea past the director. It does happen. Sometimes there is an aspect or a moment or a transition that the director has struggled with, and this person just found the key.
Depending on your director and how approachable they are, you may be able to discuss something with them that you hear about from multiple sources. The director may be able to explain to you why they have chosen to tell that story in that way. You can then get on board with it or at least fake it for the rest of the run, but you’d at least understand it and have something to say to the people who say “Why did he use so much yellow?” or “I didn’t get why that one dude was hanging out in the corner the whole time.” And honestly, you don’t have to understand it, you just have to do it, but it’s easier when you understand it. And when you understand it, it’s easier to resist when your parents tell you that they wished you did more or less of a certain thing.
This may be one of the most important phrases you ever learn. That and “Thank you.”
More on that later.