One Director’s Perspective on Directing New Writing

Kendra Jones will be directing a number of Shorts that will be read throughout the festival. These are exciting excerpts from the festival short-list that we just weren’t able to fit into FemFest but wanted to introduce to our audiences. To find out the schedule for the Shorts click here.

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Directing is one of the most challenging jobs in theatre; it is our job to ensure that the message of the play is understood and shared by the artistic team, that the actors, designers, etc have what they need, and most importantly, that we communicate all of this to the audience. The approach each director has differs, and I know from my experience, the type of play I am working on will determine exactly how I go about bringing it to life for the audience.

With new writing, one of my foremost concerns is ensuring that my directorial voice does not overshadow the voice of the writer. In these instances, the director’s job is to help the writer’s story shine – to show it off, so to speak, and allow the text to work for the audience on its own terms, and not as a result of imposition from the director in terms of style. For a project like the Shorts, where I have to select a brief portion of a longer work to share, my main goal is to showcase the tone, style, and skill of the larger work, while keeping within time limitations, and ensuring that nothing I’m selecting is going to be clunky or awkward in a staged-reading situation. Some things just don’t work properly with the text in hand!

 The four plays that comprise the Shorts programme have each presented their own unique set of challenges to me as a director, as a result. Below is a little bit about each play and my selections for the readings, in hopes of enticing you to come check them out!

Naked by Lisa Rose Snow, gives us two characters from very different backgrounds confronted with one another in a rather intimate situation. When reading it, I was touched by the neediness of Vanessa, and the willingness of Mary to stand in for Vanessa in any situation, but ultimately refuse to truly connect with her, cruelly stringing her along. The selection from this play is right near the beginning, and gives a sense of the odd relationship between these women.

 

In The Valley by Natasha MacLellan is a hilarious and touching look at the life of those who are single and dating. The script takes the shape of a speed dating event, and includes lengthy monologues of the character talking about themselves. As the script progresses, the desperation and frantic desire to screen through to “Mr Right” comes through, and although the moments get increasingly funny, they also begin to hit closer and closer to home as we see the honesty of these individuals search for happiness. In this instance, I selected a scene from later into the speed dating evening, to give a feel for the beautiful symbiosis comedy and drama share in this script.

Virgin by Joan M Kivanda presents an exploration of personal memory, through two actors. Though they primarily play Janet and Young Janet (an earlier version of herself) they also take on persona from various experiences and moments in Janet’s life, re-constructing and re-living moments of trauma and strife. The script seamlessly moves from one scene to another, jumping around in time in a way that emulates our own experience of memory as fragmented and tangental. I selected the opening section of the play to demonstrate these structural conventions in the play, and give a taste of Kivanda’s style as a writer.

 

Hungry Wolf by Cornelia Hoogland is a twisted update of the Red Riding Hood story, which modernizes their relationship and also reflects it on a primarily adult Red, experiencing love, marriage, and parenthood. The imagery in the play is stunning, taking ideas from the story and merging them with ideas about contemporary life, as their relationship weaves, merges and evolves over time. It was immensely difficult to choose a selection from this play for that reason. I ended up selecting a section from the beginning of the play, which demonstrates the cleverness of the update to the story, and sets the stage stylistically for where Hoogland takes the latter part of the script.

With all of these selections, my hope is that the audience will be intrigued by the scripts, and enticed to seek out the opportunity to see the full plays some time in the future.

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1 Comment

  1. […] One Director’s Perspective on Directing New Writing « Sarasvati Transforms’ Blog. […]


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