Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for May 12th, 2018

A director’s education

leave a comment »

As for the various functions of the craft you are involved with, the best way is to practice them yourself. It’s less important to read about acting and to study the advice of great teachers than to act yourself. If you can, work in a summer theatre. Or get a part in a play or a movie and submit to the will of the director. Design a set for a production, create the costumes for another. Knuckle down and do it. Lighting is critical—you are creating another world, not a real world—and experience in this is absolutely necessary. You must know what the choices are and what the problems are and what the techniques are and what the available materials are before you can successfully guide others. Learn by doing. Fail, but try everything you can. Take subsidiary positions. Be an assistant director, a call boy, be a stage manager. Go to a dance class and learn how choreographers work and what keeps a dance moving, what the classical movements are. Everything is relevant.

Then read. What a pleasurable way of life it is that requires you to study everything! Collect books. Collect clippings. Cut out every illustration in papers or magazines that attracts you. It caught your eye for a reason. There are marvelous compositions in newspapers, especially the bad ones…Keep a diary. It will force you to articulate your observations, and it will train your eyes and ears to see and hear and notice. Carry a pocket notebook. Aways have a pen with you. A half-hour’s walk can be valuable. Every street in New York can provide an encounter, and all encounters that surprise you are precious. A bus or subway ride can be a treasure trip. Don’t take taxis. You see nothing and learn nothing in a taxi—it’s a waste of time.

Elia Kazan, Kazan on Directing

Written by nevalalee

May 12, 2018 at 7:30 am

%d bloggers like this: