Hey Steph!

Class was great... As usual.

I also wanted to present a problem I am facing as a director...  I understand all of the acting language but am finding it difficult to know where the line is between giving direction, giving acting tips, telling someone what to do, and giving line readings...

This comes from the fact that I have many instincts that I am finding slightly supressed because I want to direct rather than tell...

I think that came out in my difficulty in giving feedback for tj's scene....

What do you have to say, coming from an acting standpoint?

Thank you so much.
M


Hi M

This is to address you question – about your challenge as a director.

Everyone is going to have certain challenges as a director - coming from their own particular background, experience & natural ability - and I'll list some things that will be helpful for you, but I do think it's important to know what your STRENGTHS are, and often - especially when dealing with  collaboration or communication - those strengths can carry you through while you develop the muscles in your weaker areas.

Your strength is your care.  You emotionally commit - to the project and to your actors and they feel that and will do anything for you.  You're also a a very sweet sensitive person - so that's non-threatening and nurturing for an actor.  So just by being present, encouraging, creating a safe place, great work can come form it.

The next most important thing is the RECOGNIZE the moments or issues that DON"T work - and even if you cannot articulate WHAT it is or WHY it doesn't work or WHAT to do about it - you can always say – THAT POINT is what doesn't work for me.  And then the actors will scurry in to do all they can to offer suggestions, trying thing - because they want to do it and will especially want to do it for you.

So what I just said is the most important.  Then we get into the skills of directing.

Here’s where I’m just going to repeat myself – but also know that the lines you worry about crossing I dance upon all the time and you’ve seen me do it.  I’ll give ‘internal dialogue’ with feeling.  I’ll use my acting ability to help ‘goose’ the actor into playing stakes or personalizing.  When I have actors do the objective ‘mantras’, for example, you notice that I never simply say them or repeat them, I do it with feeling.  I’ll say “DO that, REALLY GET HIM to ______ _____!”  Being an actor gives you an advantage.  What I’ve tried to do in teaching this class is take what I do naturally and find language that always works so that someone who is NOT an actor can use it effectively.  Thus the ‘focus on the other character’ stuff, etc.  

(But there is no question that what I’m showing you all to do, could easily be considered ‘acting tips’ - but not necessarily ‘telling them what to do’ - more of guiding them to have an experience, to discover something.)

When you get concerned on exactly “how” something comes out – chances are that you trying to control (impose your take) from an actors perspective & should let go.  You’ll notice that I might even disagree with an objective that an actor picks, but will encourage them to ‘go for it’ and call them on it if I don’t see it.  Then the discovery –of whether that works or not – and how – is theirs. Although it is also the director's job to keep track of the story and I might see something that’s interesting and truthful – but telling a different story.  But otherwise, my job is to simply stop whenever something gets ‘off track’ and offer suggestions of how to get it on track – and pay attention to see if it’s working.   As you’ve probably noticed in class – it always helps and it’s never anything I could have predicted or controlled.

In terms of your inability to articulate your thoughts, which I saw....I’m not sure, but in watching you get ‘verbally tangled’ (and then have an emotional judgmental response to that), I think I’d guess that it comes back to your sensitivity.  You are a very emotionally sensitive person.  And, we only have so much ‘real estate’ in consciousness.  And thus, when Emotions
EXPAND – something else has to CONTRACT – which is usually the part of our brain that makes sense of things.  (Have you even known anyone to do something really intelligent when they were highly emotional?)

Thus, and I’m biased here, I think that mindfulness meditation that helps the ‘processing’ of emotions will be quite helpful to you.  You are not going to want to be the most emotional person in the room.  (And here’s where I can get into being a woman or even an attractive woman in this career – with all the benefits & obstacles that arise – but I want to address your specific issues that are arising that you are now becoming aware of.)

SO, once you’ve developed some ‘muscles’ and can have a huge emotional response (or in your case, a normal one will be a lot since you are sensitive and don’t quite have the ‘armor’ that others do – which is, I think, a good thing) - and you’ll be able to process it and it will allow you to think & speak clearly – accessing your creative insight.  

In the meantime, I’m going to highly encourage you to stop, breathe, tune into your body – maybe feel your feet on the floor, and count to 3 or maybe take 3 deep breaths.  I teach a meditation that I think would be especially helpful for you, but don’t have the time to do it in the context of this class, but just breathing and tuning in – and developing the ability to relax on cue – will help you enormously.

Hope that’s helpful
Steph