The Director's Toolkit  book cover
1st Edition

The Director's Toolkit

ISBN 9781138095236
Published January 22, 2018 by Routledge
386 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents




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

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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.