What does a director do?

A director is a particular kind of artist within theatre and film. The role is highly creative – directors interpret the script and help actors to understand the meaning behind the text – but it can also be very technical, and requires an assertive knowledge of the inner workings of a good show.

Professional theatre directors often work within an established company, giving them easy access to playwrights and actors to collaborate with. A director is often the first person to suggest doing a particular play, approaching producers and key cast members to get them involved. A good professional director can lend credibility to new writers’ work and launch acting careers.

Freelance directing is common, especially with scripts by lesser-known authors – a director will approach a local or national theatre company, sometimes in partnership with the playwright, for the opportunity to get the work onstage. This is an important process to bring new faces and ideas into the industry, at all levels of professional and amateur theatre.

John Caird, the author of Theatre Craft, is quick to remind us that directing theatre isn’t just something you ‘pick up’. In an article for the Guardian, he wrote that “it can take years for a director to break into the business – years that require stamina, persistence and sheer bloody-minded optimism.” Similarly, emerging director Chris Hill attests to “having spent time sweeping stages, ripping tickets and doing laundry.”

At the Victoria University Theatre Company, we’re always excited to see new writers and directors come into the fold and start to make something truly of their own. If you have a favourite play that you’d love to direct, or a script gathering dust, don’t hesitate to contact us. There’s a good chance we’ll like it, just because we’re geeks.

Having a crack at directing while studying is a great way to get ahead if you’re planning to enter the theatre or film industry after your degree. Directing requires a developed knowledge of all aspects of the production, from the text to the sound desk. Student theatre is the incubator where you can start to understand the nuts and bolts of production, as well as the creative concepts that drive the profession. We can’t teach you to be a leader – but we can help you become one.

Finally, as Hill writes, “there is no map for success” – you’ve got to make your own, and that’s the essence of the craft.


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