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Impeccable timing, Ken. This issue has been on my mind for a while now, and between your post and this one by David Cote for the Guardian's theatre blog from earlier today (, I - and I think all of us involved in the American theater - have a lot more to mull over...
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Very interesting question, Ken. As both a director and a producer, I've been on both sides of this issue. I think this is a largely a question of having an "easy" production vs. a "different" production. As a director, I do have a stable of designers, stage managers, choreographers and actors that I regularly work with for both the quality of their work and the absence of hassle during the production process. We share a common language and often get where we need to go without my asking, making life easier for all involved and a more unified production. That being said, doing something simply because it's easy is not always smart. When you have the resources (both of time and money) to open up your options, then it's completely fair to want to explore those options. Conversely, doing something differently for the sake of variety is also not always smart. If you trust your captain, you should also trust him/her to be open to new ideas. I've found flexibility and an open mind to be key to creativity, collaboration and my own sanity, i.e., all ideas are good ideas until they prove themselves to be otherwise. If a producer has misgivings about a certain regular team member, then the director should be able to evaluate that concern and either debate it or embrace it. If the producer's trust isn't enough to even broach the subject, buckle up or pull the car off the road. Luckily, given the nature of our biz, every show is never easy and always different. It starts and ends with trust. Managing trust is perhaps the chief job of both the producer and the director, and the trust shared between the two is the flashpoint where the show will either fly or flop.
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