9 Point Questionnaire- Fletcher

  • I am directing a Steven Berkoff adaption of the play “Metamorphosis”, a very out of the box play which we began rehearsing for towards the end of term 2. I plan for it to be performed at the end of the year in term 4, depending on the rate of progress of my cast. This was a project that I myself initiated, but with the help of my Drama teacher I have also managed to incorporate it into my schoolwork so as to obtain NCEA credits for my directing work.
    My role as Director, first involves me having to cast the play, a task which requires patience and an ability to listen well and be adaptive to new ideas. Throughout the auditions I would give feedback on their performance and suggest and direct them on different ways which they could try to perform their audition lines. I would then sit and listen to see how adaptive they were to change, having to perform it a different way off the cuff. Since casting the play, my role has involved ensuring that my team bonds well and gets along, which was achieved through a variety of team exercises and drama games. Before the holidays we had only just begun on the process of learning lines and developing a further understanding of the play, and as a director my job is not to give away their character ideas, but to give subtle clues in hope that they will characterise well themselves. A director is often seen as the leader of the play, who’s ideas and visions get transformed into a stage performance, however It is of the upmost importance to me that I allow the actors to also bring their ideas to the stage. Therefore my role as Director is less so to instruct and more so to inspire and encourage, and get the actors thinking for themselves whilst ensuring that they stay on the right path.
    The other people involved in this play are of course the small cast of Actors, most of which are the year ahead doing level 3 drama (this is because “Metamorphosis” is a level 3 piece), and potentially there could be the involvement of some crew members closer to the performance time.
    In terms of the results, we are still in the early stages of rehearsals which will commence again at the start of the new term. It has been a smooth process thus far, the characterisation is coming along nicely and I am very happy with how well the cast have bonded and responded to by teachings and advice.
    I feel as if my leadership role as a director has begun well, considering that the leadership practice I chose to work on was “Enabling others to act”. The task at hand suits the chosen practice very well as it forces me to sit back and let the actors take control of the acting (A task which as an actor I would usually do), and it also puts me in a good position to evaluate the team which I lead and if needed point them in the right direction. there have been moments when I felt a demonstration was in order, just to give a visual representation of the theatre ideas in my head to my actors, but I have always made a point of saying that I want to see also how they would do it. Every now and then I will hold meetings with the actors to talk about what they think of my directing ideas and perhaps bring forward some ideas of their own. These sessions not only help the cast to express themselves and their ideas but also grows a strong and healthy relationship between actor and director, where the both of us are in acknowledgement of the respect we have for one another.
    Throughout this experience so far I have learned that this style of leadership where I sit back, evaluate and give input is not necessarily my most preferred leadership style but it is definitely an important one. I have been witness to some of the incredible ideas that other people have to offer, a lot of which I chose to use instead of my own. Its taught me that in listening to others, you can improve whatever it is you are working on through collective collaboration and collective responsibility.
    In terms of what I have learnt about the Five Practices of Exemplary Student Leadership (which include: Challenge the process, Encourage the heart, Enable others to act, Model the way, and Inspire a shared vision), I have gained an understanding of how crucial all five of these are in being not only a successful but adaptable leader. there will be all sorts of situations which require very different forms of leadership. For example leadership in the theatre can be vastly different from leadership on the sports field, leadership in the classroom, or most importantly, the social leadership that often goes unnoticed and is subtly done everyday of our lives in almost every situation. Directing this play has shown me that even as a director the most important thing is to be a person. People respond to people, not necessarily titles, and it is very important to me that I did not succumb to the stereotypical traits of the typical director, and use that supposed status to exercise ownership and creative control.
    I would advise others to think about why it is that they are leading. What is your purpose? As a director my purpose cannot be to put on a good show. That only defeats the purpose of leadership and the growth that we as leaders want to experience taking place in our own society. I would ask others not to exercise leadership as a title, but more as a value that any person can have if their purpose is to inspire, influence and induce change. A leader is not a job title or vocational pathway, its not an accolade of achievement or position of status, or an excuse to stand on a podium. It is a moral that only the most personable of us have.

    In short, to be a Director is not to instantly be a Leader, but a Leader will be a Director if they please (and a good one at that).

    Kind Regards

    Fletcher Oxford