Stage Director  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotStage 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.

dotUsually, 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.

dotBreaking 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.

dotCasting 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.

dotStage 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 of psychology.

dotAs 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!

dotSpecial 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.

At a Glance

Bring the show together

  • Sporadic work means directors must diversify
  • Many stage directors have dual roles in a play
  • Consider a college drama program