Writing About An Elusive Art – Part 3

The discussion on reviewing directors and directing continues today with some comments from my good friend Don Jordan. Don is a director I have worked with consistently for over a decade now. We’ve collaborated on over a dozen projects during that time, so I’m well-versed in his aesthetics and ideology. And, I knew he’d have something to say. I asked Don the same three questions I asked Isaac Butler. Here’s how he responded:

Q: When you read a review of something you’ve directed, what do you want to get out of it?

A: I want a positive review for the show, of course!!! The burden of directing indie theater is that at least 9 times out of 10 you are also the producer of the show. This means that every little bump to help sell tickets is beneficial. But, to answer your question directly, I would say that I always hope that the reviewer will be able to accurately see the intention behind how I have approached the project. I find that the director’s over-reaching approach to a project is the first thing to get washed over by a reviewer because the first thing they want to discuss is their own over-reaching view of the play or performance.

Q: Are there any general things about your work that you hope the reviewer picks up on?

A: Generally speaking, the parts of the performance have come out of the process. So many times you will see a review that lauds the acting and the design then faults the directing. But, how do you think all of things happened, magic? Who ran the design meetings, worked with the actors at every rehearsal, made sure the entire project ran like a team? Reviewers need to understand that the director’s job has as much to do with creating a positive process as it does polishing the final product.

Q: How would like to see reviewers write about directing?

A: Well, maybe thay could imagine the director like the producer of an album. A music reviewer doesn’t fault the producer for a bad singing voice or bad songwriting, they look to the producer for the energy, the approach to the project, that final polish.

I like Don’s music analogy here. A very acute observation, I think. Mine would be a sports analogy, likening the director to the head coach of a team. More on that in my next post on this subject.

In the meantime, feel free to keep those comments coming. There are no shortages of opinions about this topic, it seems, so let’s hear what you have say.

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