“In order to awaken the creative process at the beginning of the rehearsal the director might say, “…Let’s begin at the beginning and read for sense and see what we discover”. You don’t have to say more than that. After that all you have to do is listen and say yes… Let [the actor] do the work. Make it easier for him. Clear the obstacles from his path. Most actors feel as though a script is an obstacle course. Help him find the path.
The path we are looking for, the actor and director together, is the inner life of the character. The director’s responsibility is to evoke and discover that inner life… That’s why we say, Impose as little as possible. Speak as little as possible. Encourage as much as possible. Say yes to everything. Allow Nature to work for you”
-- William Ball, A Sense of Direction
This is a process that I pretty much subscribe to whole-heartedly. As directors when we cast a show we cast the actors in their roles for specific reasons. It is because we believe them to be, out of all the actors we saw in auditions, the actor best suited to the role and the vision of the play. Therefore, we must then learn to trust the instincts and intuition of the actors that we have chosen.
And, this is generally, where it all begins for me as a director. I want the actor to discover the inner life of the character on their own and take responsibility for the choices. Yes, I come to rehearsal prepared with suggestions, ideas, etc but for the most part I try to let the actors make most of the choices themselves. I don’t want to impose something on actor that they are not comfortable with because then it comes across to the audience as forced or unnatural. Plus 9 times out of 10 an actor will come up with an amazing idea or do something I never would have thought of thereby making that scene better than I could ever imagined. I would never, EVER, intentionally want to squash those moments by trying to force the actor to do exactly as I originally imagined in my head. I do my job. I come prepared. Then I throw it all out the window and “see what we discover”.
Yet, some scripts call for a more defined process and is probably part of the reason I find Human Remains such a challenge. Normally I just like to play. I would basically do exactly as the quote above describes. We would read the “scene for sense” and then I would just say “ok, let’s put it on its feet and see what happens”. I like to play. I like to see what the actors will bring to the script without me having to tell them anything; however, with Human Remains every actor is on stage at all times. So, rather than being able to play around during these past two weeks I needed to give the actors a basic skeleton within which we can now, hopefully, play. The actors needed to know where they were sitting and/or standing when not in the immediate action and how they would get into and out of those scenes as they unfold.
Now that we have set a basic skeleton and everyone knows where they are going (without crashing into each other or tripping over each other) we can play. And, I am really looking forward to finally being able to play and discover the inner life of these characters and this play as we work through it a second time.
Director “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love”