Behind the Scenes

Directing a Performance

Claire Densmore, Writer

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Have you ever seen a theatre performance at Thomas Worthington and wondered what it took to put it together? I recently had the opportunity to direct “Alice in Wonderland,” and it gave me a new perspective on putting on a show. 

Having been a cast member in previous performances, I thought I knew everything there was to know about show-making: rehearsing time spent learning dances and blocking, running the show, adding the props and the tech crew. Directing a show would be no different. Tell people what to do and where to go – easy, right?

I could not have been more wrong.

After the first few rehearsals, I started to understand all the work and thought that goes behind the dances and blocking.

A director sets the theme for the performance by interpreting the script. This means choosing whether the performance will be upbeat and silly or serious and cynical. I had to make the creative decision and plan how the characters would act according to that theme. The script for  “Alice in Wonderland,” in my impression, was dull, so I attempted to make it more exciting by adding music alongside verses of the text and inserting choreography throughout.

Apart from actually putting the show together, I began to thoroughly comprehend the comments that directors give to performers after every show. Before, I would always hear, “Be louder on stage! Project!” or “Open up to the audience!”  and it would go in one ear and out the other. Being in the director’s shoes, I began to grasp how important those comments are in putting on a good show.

Now I understand the frustrations of directing. The energy and commitment necessary to fulfill a vision for a show is monumental. A director’s pride depends largely on how the actors execute his or her own choices. Putting together “Alice in Wonderland” was humbling in the sense that I had underclassmen looking to me as a role model. I have gained a new-found respect for the Theatre Director, Justin Nawman, and for the enormous creative tasks involved in every production.

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