Stage directors work on a wide range of theatrical productions -- from
traditional theater to musicals and even opera. They're the ones that bring
the show together. Directors work closely with the playwright, if it's an
original play, and also with set designers, choreographers and stage managers.
Usually, directors are hired to put on a run of a particular show. However,
a few are fortunate to be hired as artistic directors for a production company.
In those cases, they work both as directors and as administrators.
Breaking into the theater, and breaking into directing, is tough. Work
is sporadic in these days of budget cuts. Even so, thousands of Americans
make their living in the arts and few, once in, choose to leave.
Casting is the first part of the stage director's job. Usually, directors
will pick actors who have played similar roles. Sometimes, however, they do
just the opposite, by casting "against type."
That's because directors can and often do bring their own interpretation
to a work. The reason they may cast against type is to bring a new and original
meaning to a production.
Stage directors manage the technical as well as the creative elements of
a production. They make sure the lighting is right for each scene and that
the set and costumes are appropriate.
All this is important because they try to create a "world" for the characters
to live in that fits the script and their interpretation of it.
During rehearsals, directors help actors make an emotional connection to
the character they play. They don't teach them how to act. They help actors
"discover" their roles or characters better. This may take some understanding
As stage director, you will serve as the audience during rehearsal. You'll
ask yourself questions like, "How will the audience interpret this?"
Your judgment here is crucial because unlike movie directors who can have
several "takes" of a scene made until they are satisfied, a stage director
generally has only one -- the live performance!
Special physical mobility needs may not prevent you from pursuing this
career, as several theaters these days have wheelchair access. However, you'll
be using the senses of hearing and sight a lot in this kind of work.