Thinking in six dimensions

I just “directed” my first piece of theatre.  I put directed in quotes, since it was a mere two minutes long, but it did have three actors, props, background sound, entrances and exits…and it was a very interesting experience.

When I’m writing a play, I tend to think in vignettes related to the text more than in the dynamics of the action, unless it’s a fight scene or something like that — and end even then I tend to reduce it down to one dimension, e.g. left and right. Now that I’ve been actually forced to confront the realities of putting bodies in motion on the stage, it’s clear that a director has to think in something more like six dimensions.

Left and right are still there of course, as is upstage/downstage, but the vertical dimension is important. How you chop up the timing of the actions makes a difference and sound and light become dimensions of their own that have differing effects.

I’m sure any experienced directors are nodding sagely and thinking, “and you haven’t even considered x, y, and z …”, but I have to say that it’s exciting to have these new ways of looking at a drama opening up for me, and if there’s more to come, bring it on.  In terms of it’s impact on how I look at making theatre, I think this class in directing is going to be extremely influential.

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