Good directors come to rehearsal with a vision for the play – a concept for the interpretation of the script, the shape, the tone, the mood, the movement.
Great directors realize their vision while making you feel like your performance was the result of a collaborative organic discovery. Your blocking, intentions, and movement all resulted from exploration in rehearsal.
Not-so-great directors can be found on either side of the spectrum. They either come to rehearsal with no vision and painfully stumble through rehearsals while you flail away, or they come with a clear defined vision and impose said vision without any input from the actor. Say this line, walk three steps left, pick up the flower, say your next line, then turn upstage.
Aside – some forms (farce, for example) require an intensely detailed game plan from the director. There’s nothing worse than blocking the last scene of a farce and realizing that the rose needs to be in a different place, resulting in a cascading reblocking of the whole play. But even in farce, there’s still plenty of room for play, for interpretation within the framework.
It never occurred to me before, but thanks to an excellent blog post on The Stage’s Education and Training Blog, I’ve come to realize that teaching is very similar. Great teachers make you think you’re discovering the information yourself, that you’re discovering Pythagoras’ theorem along with him. Not-so-great teachers impose information on you that you’re expected to learn by rote.
Have a look at the post and tell me what you think!