1st Edition

The Director's Toolkit

By Robin Schraft Copyright 2018
    386 Pages
    by Routledge

    386 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The Director’s Toolkit is a comprehensive guide to the role of the theatrical director.

    Following the chronology of the directing process, the book discusses each stage in precise detail, considering the selection and analysis of the script, the audition process, casting, character development, rehearsals, how to self-evaluate a production and everything in between.

    Drawing on the author’s own experience in multiple production roles, the book highlights the relationship between the director, stage manager and designer, exploring how the director should be involved in all elements of the production process. Featuring a unique exploration of directing in special circumstances, the book includes chapters on directing nonrealistic plays, musicals, alternative theatre configurations, and directing in an educational environment.

    The book includes detailed illustrations, step-by-step checklists, and opportunities for further exploration, offering a well-rounded foundation for aspiring directors.




    Introduction – What Is a Director?


    The Director in the Production Process

    The Function of the Director


    Director vs. Acting Coach

    Qualities of a Good Director

    The Production Process

    A Final Thought

    Further Exploration

    PART I – The Script

    Chapter 1 – Script Selection

    Script Selection Process

    Sources for Play Scripts

    Understanding and Obtaining Performance Rights

    Relationship with the Playwright

    Contractual and Ethical Obligations

    Preparing a Production Book

    Play Selection Checklist

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 2 – Understanding the Play: Script Analysis

    Understanding the Play

    Determining and Understanding the Spine of the Play

    Identifying the Dramatic Structure of the Play

    Dividing the Script into Working Units

    Analyzing the Play

    Determining the Style of the Play

    Script Analysis Format

    Outline of Script Analysis Format

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 3 – Research Leading to a Concept

    Analysis to Research

    Production Research

    Period Research

    Background Research

    Character Research

    Playwright Research

    Style Research

    Final Thoughts on Research

    Intrinsic and Extrinsic Interpretations of the Play

    Historical and Social Implications in Interpretation of the Play

    Developing a Production Concept for the Play

    Research Leading to a Concept Checklist

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 4 – Style

    What Is Style?

    The Origin of Theatrical Styles

    Modern Theatrical Styles

    Determining the Style of the Play

    Style vs. Mode

    Determining the Mode for the Production

    Further Exploration

    PART II – The Production Staff

    Chapter 5 – Working with the Production Staff

    The Role of the Designers

    The Director’s Relationship with the Designers

    Contributions of the Designers


    Directing the Design Areas

    Production Meetings

    A Final Thought

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 6 – Working with the Stage Manager

    The Stage Manager’s Role in the Production

    The Stage Manager’s Functions

    The Care and Feeding of Your Stage Manager

    What the Stage Manager Is Not

    Further Exploration

    PART III – Auditions and Casting

    Chapter 7 – Auditions

    Purpose of Auditions

    Types of Auditions

    Procedures for Auditions

    Planning for the Audition

    The Use of Callback Auditions

    How to Improve the Quality of the Auditions

    Methods for Keeping Notes on the Actors

    Director’s Decorum

    Audition Checklist

    Sample Audition Procedures

    Sample Audition Form

    Sample Audition Worksheet

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 8 – Casting

    The Importance of Casting Decisions

    Criteria for Cast Selection

    The Process of Making Casting Decisions

    Nontraditional Casting


    Changing Your Mind

    Casting with Other Directors

    Casting Worksheet

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 9 – Scheduling for the Production


    The Production Calendar

    The Rehearsal Calendar – Preplanning vs. Daily Schedules

    Planning the Amount of Time Needed


    Establishing Goals for Each Rehearsal

    Presenting the Production and Rehearsal Schedules

    Final Thoughts

    Scheduling Checklist

    Further Exploration

    PART IV – Floor Plans, Stage Pictures, and Blocking

    Chapter 10 – Developing the Floor Plan

    The Director’s Relationship to the Floor Plan

    Understanding Theater Architecture and Its Implications for the Production

    Working with the Scenic Designer on Developing the Floor Plan

    Types of Floor Plans (Patterns of Scenery)

    Meeting the Needs of the Script

    Using the Floor Plan to Focus the Audience’s Attention

    Mark Antony’s Funeral Speech

    Creating Visual Interest Using the Scenic Axis


    Suggestions for Improving the Floor Plan

    Using Key Scenes to Develop or Evaluate the Floor Plan

    Drawing the Floor Plan

    Floor Plan Development Checklist

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 11 – Creating Stage Pictures

    What Is a Stage Picture?

    The Process of Developing Stage Pictures

    Developing a Stage Picture for Ile


    Final Thoughts

    Stage Picture Checklist

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 12 – Blocking

    Preplanned vs. Organic Blocking

    Purpose for Blocking

    Principles of Blocking

    Using Blocking More Effectively

    Keeping the Blocking Motivated

    Blocking Pitfalls to Avoid

    Using Props

    Planning, Recording, and Communicating the Blocking

    Blocking Checklist

    Further Exploration

    PART V – The Rehearsal Process

    Chapter 13 – Working with the Actors

    Developing a Relationship with Your Actors

    Types and Functions of Characters

    Understanding the Actor’s Process

    Communicating with Your Actors

    Working with Actorisms

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 14 – Rehearsal Techniques

    Planning for the Rehearsals

    Organization of the Rehearsals

    Keeping Rehearsals on Task

    Giving the Actors Notes

    Keeping Muscle Memory in Mind

    Rehearsing Scenes Involving Violence

    Acting Exercises to Address Particular Needs

    Rehearsal Organization Checklist

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 15 – Rehearsal Challenges

    Challenges vs. Problems



    Problem Solving Checklist

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 16 – Tempo, Rhythm, and Pace

    The Director’s Relationship to Tempo, Rhythm, and Pace




    Uniting Tempo and Rhythm to Create Pace in the Production

    Technical Implications on Pace

    Tools and Considerations for Building the Tempo, Rhythm, and Pace of the Production

    Pace and Energy

    Tempo, Rhythm, and Pace Exercises

    Final Thoughts

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 17 – Polishing the Play

    The Function of the Polishing Rehearsals

    Polishing the Acting

    Implementing the Technical Aspects into the Production

    Technical Rehearsals without the Actors (Dry Techs)

    Technical Rehearsals with the Actors (Actor Techs)

    Dress Rehearsals

    Staging and Rehearsing the Curtain Call

    Final Thoughts

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 18 - Evaluating the Production

    Why Conduct an Evaluation?

    Evaluating the Production

    External Sources of Evaluation

    Combining All Sources of Evaluation

    Production Evaluation

    Further Exploration

    PART VI – Additional Topics

    Chapter 19 – Directing Nonrealistic Styles (Styling the Production)

    Identifying the Style

    Conventions of Styles

    Directing a Presentational or Nonrealistic Style

    Determining the Mode for Nonrealistic Styles

    Matching Your Directing Style to the Style of the Play

    Examples of Working in Styles Other Than Pure Realism

    Greek Theatre



    Further Exploration

    Chapter 20 – Directing Musicals

    Understanding the Difference Between Musicals and Straight Plays

    Additional Collaboration in Musicals

    Working with the Music and Choreography in Developing the Characters

    Additional Considerations in Rehearsals for Musicals

    A Word About Working with Musicians and Choreographers

    Further Exploration

    Chapter 21 – Directing in Alternative Settings

    Recognizing How Directing in Alternative Settings Differs from Proscenium

    General Guidelines for Directing in Alternative Settings

    Directing in an Arena Configuration

    Directing in a Thrust Configuration

    Directing in Other Configurations


    Further Exploration

    Chapter 22 – Directing in an Educational Environment

    The Director as Teacher

    Understanding the Goals of Educational Theatre

    Understanding the Role of the Educational Director

    The Relationship of the Director with the Cast and Staff

    Working in the School Environment

    Further Exploration

    The Next Step


    Appendix A – Sources for Play Scripts

    Appendix B – Plays, Films, and TV Shows Referenced


    Dr. Robin Schraft is a Professor of Theatre at Drury University. His commercial career includes work as a director, designer, and stage manager in New York, summer stock, national tours, and Branson, Missouri. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), where he served for many years as the Vice-Commissioner for Computer Applications for the Lighting Commission of the Institute. He also served on the committee that wrote the current national recommended practices for stage lighting graphics.