Author Topic: Working with a Russian Director  (Read 9481 times)

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Re: Working with a Russian Director
« Reply #15 on: Feb 02, 2009, 09:15 pm »
Woah. Sounds like she's used to a very different rehearsal process than what your school is set up to do!

I've been with an "organic blocking" kind of director, where the actors really decide the blocking with whatever feels best for them with minimal direction from the director. I would definitely look for similarities and see if there's a basic pattern that they're following. My guess is that they are. I think that most actors will want to find their blocking nad stick to it for the most part.

It sounds like the playwright's changes are pretty crazy, too. Messing with all the page numbers is definitely difficult to deal with, but it sounds like you have that at least in check, if not under control...

I definitely second that you need to get some backup on making sure actors are not skipping classes. I really had to put my foot down with a student director that wanted to change the schedule without warning and force the actors to stay late just because. I told him no, but he went right past me and asked the actors. It was clear to see that they were NOT pleased and felt forced to do it. I really ended up putting my foot down and telling him that he needed to respect their time, just as they respected his and arrived earlier than called and spent several minutes in silence because he asked for it. But skipping classes goes way beyond that and needs to be dealt with by someone from the school.

Ah, at least you can look on this as a great learning experience...


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Re: Working with a Russian Director
« Reply #16 on: Feb 03, 2009, 12:25 am »
Wow! Thanks for the update. I agree this will be a great learning experience.

I worked with a few foreign directors in college and I have worked with quite a few Russian and French directors (and coaches) since.  A request to work with sound, costumes and full props from day one seems to be the norm. I believe it comes from a culture where shows are much more organic and there is not as much structure to the rehearsal process. I have also seen this in the expectations of foreign artists. It is a different process and one that can be difficult to adjust too (on both sides). However, sometimes compromises need to be made and normally an explanation of why these things are not possible and a reasonable substitute will do. At the same time, it is an amazing process as an actor to have all of these tools from the beginning. There is so much less time spent on remembering where there should be a chair and instead discovering how you can dance on that chair.  So, compromise where you can but try and do as much as you can so your actors can enjoy this unique process. On that note, as an actor I frequently helped run sound for scenes I was not in or washed costumes one day a week to help out. I learned a great lesson about theatre being a team effort.

I also found that these directors are less precise than I am used they often have ideas that are expressed out loud but that they do not expect immediate follow through on.  Sometimes when a director says..I want full costumes ready tomorrow for the entire cast to wear for each rehearsal a simple clarification will help. You may discover the director was not actually expecting that to happen but merely was thinking out loud to the creative team. Even if they were expecting it you may be able to compromise. Approaching your director with an explanation of your concern and a solution, (ie some type of preexisting rehearsal wear your actors could wear over street clothes) may work to solve the issue.

I have a very clear image of a stage manager killing herself to make every single thing the director wanted happen - only to have the director look at her and frequently dismiss items as "just an idea" later.

it is a very tough balancing act but one which will greatly benefit you later in your career...

I wish you the best of luck! - D
« Last Edit: Feb 03, 2009, 02:48 am by GalFriday »
"Now the best way to learn the theater, always, is to be a stage manager" - Stephen Sondheim


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Re: Working with a Russian Director
« Reply #17 on: Feb 23, 2009, 04:50 pm »
Sounds like a fun time.  I have worked with directors who kind of give the loose blocking, and yes it can be frustrating.  Ultimately things to settle into a set pattern.  In terms of my blocking notations early on they tend to lean more towards what they are going to instead of  specific direction.  IE: crosses away, or crosses to table. 

In terms of the skipping class and long rehearsals from studying at the Moscow Art Theatre for a summer I saw that rehearsals kind of take precedence over other things, as you are in the school to act.  In the situation you describe i feel its more something you need to tlak to the head of your department about.  They are the one that should have set out the guidelines with the director of how things work in the university and what the director can and can not demand of the students. 

As for the asking for sets, props, and costumes I agree with what somoene else above said.  Some places can provide a lot of hat right away and your director might have had that but explaining to her why you cant have all the costumes (ie they arent all built) could solve the problem.  The show i just opened the director wanted costumes early on and the designer obviously said it wasnt possible but tlaking it out they were able to work out that ok we just needed the one costume as soon as possible (or at least a functional mock up) since the costume had a transformation onstage that definately needed to be worked in rehearsal.

Final thing to add is that while you never really want to tell a director "No" sometimes it has to happen.  However do not just say no, you need to have the reason why you need to say no and you have to be careful of how you phrase it.  Most directors i have worked with when you present a valid reason why what they are demanding cant happen they understand and things can move on, often times cause they arent thinking about all the things you are they are just thinking of what they want.