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As a passionate theatremaker, you may find, at times, it can be a struggle to navigate some of the director-actor relationship dynamics. After all, you want to push artistic boundaries, create beautiful shows, make meaningful connections, collaborate freely, and receive respect – all at once. Obviously, that can be a tough order to fill.
But strategies can be enacted from the very first rehearsal to ensure effective collaboration, meaningful leadership, and strong outcomes for your show and your team. On The Stage offers some pointers on where to start as it relates to harnessing the power of healthy collaboration.
You may be wondering – how does asserting my dominance in the theatre result in effective collaboration? Well, you want to ensure that your actors, crew, and techies know that you are the person to turn to with primary questions or concerns. After all, a crucial aspect of effective director/actor communication is ensuring that your team receives advice and direction mostly from you.
Ever heard of the phrase ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’? If your secondary leadership, actors, and crew members freely offer suggestions to everyone about everything, your leadership will become undermined. This, in turn, can lead to inconsistency and failed creative collaboration. That’s not to say you shouldn’t encourage open communication. (But more on that later!)
As the director of a production or the leader in any objective, you should begin your tenure by clearly and concisely relaying expectations to your team.
For example: When should people be off book for this show? What does the rehearsal schedule look like? Is there flexibility in that? Can the cast and crew inject their own nuances into a performance? What is the protocol for no-call no-shows? How will notes be given to team members? What will tech week look like?
When everyone is on the same page about decorum, deadlines, and objectives, collaboration will be much easier to achieve. Why? Because everyone is striving for the same thing.
Along the same lines as conveying expectations for behavior and performance, you should also be ready to share your vision of the production at the first rehearsal and beyond.
Begin by creating a vision board, bringing in costume swatches, and displaying prop sketches. Play inspirational videos of performers or performances you admire. Reference shows you want to emulate. In short, present the dream to your team – and let them be inspired.
By providing your cast and crew with your vision, you’re giving them the tools they need to succeed. Having a shared vision will lend itself to better collaboration, guaranteed.
Collaboration is effectively squashed when your team members feel discouraged, intimidated, or burnt out. To rectify the situation, make sure you convey to your team that you are a safe haven – for complaints, concerns, ideas, praise, or whatever else they need to get off their chests.
Your team should feel comfortable talking to you about their roles, their responsibilities, and their creative choices. By establishing yourself as someone open to communication, your collaboration will increase – because people know you’re accessible and open to any conversation.
Keeping energy and morale high when it comes time for notes is conducive to a fruitful exchange and true collaboration. If you begin your notes with a negative attitude, your cast and crew will soon feel that negative energy trickling down.
So, when delivering notes for the day, begin with highlights. Make sure you start by acknowledging the hard work of everyone involved, as well as the best moments in your production. If you know you’ll be focusing specifically on a few of your cast and crew members, ensure they’re also feeling extra appreciated before you start on the criticism.
As for delivering your constructive criticism, remember:
The world of theatre is no stranger to high-stress situations. After all, emotions can run high during auditions, rehearsals, and especially as it comes down to the wire during tech week. Keeping your strong emotions outside of the theatre means no hard feelings after rehearsals and shows end. If you stay on-task and in control, your show and cast will be better for it.
Remaining even keel before, during, and after rehearsals establishes trust between you and your team. And through trust, collaboration is born. Remember, keeping it professional can be tough if you’re wrapping up a bad day. If you don’t think you have the mental capacity to stay in control and unemotional, that’s okay – you’re only human. It’s OK to take breaks, end rehearsals early, or divert to a new plan that day if need be.
It’s no secret that managing a production – no matter the size – can be stressful. That’s why having a partner in the fight makes it so much easier. On The Stage (OTS) can assist with virtually every facet of your theatre, so you can focus on forming connections with your actors, educating your crew, and putting together a wonderful production.
With OTS, you can:
If you’re ready to elevate your theatre experience, request a personalized demo today.