Paper-Active actors! Learn how to perform before you get on stage. It's in there, in your mind and heart -- the acting. If you believe that there's some truth in Stanislavsky System (you should), all that it takes is to feel and think Acting
If you have read the Pre-Pro Page, you understand that the real pre-production period begins many months/years before. The role or the show has to grow in you. You start your work long before anybody knows about it. Very often you yourself are not aware that you're in Pre-Pro process.
I like the term I gave to it Pre-Pro, because I am talking about something which is beyond profession. Something which naturally demands professionalism and makes you a professional, if you follow the urge to see the show you dream about.
A Russian Christmas Tale, 1990
The secret of success is in HOW you think about the future role or show. This is a period before concepts and conceptualization, the most productive (in my experience).... because this is the time when YOU grow. You prepare yourself to meet the future. Oh yes, you do your RESEARCH. You hear something and you crave for specific sounds -- and you collect them. You collect the images, or, maybe, it's the show that collects your thoughts. Listen, if the show you directed didn't change you, it's a bad show. If thinking about the show doesn't make you deeper and better, forget it! You have to be in love with your future, you have wait for the meeting with yourself. Work on yourself, that's why (and how) we do theatre. If theatre can change you, you can change the others. Don't tell me that you don't want to change the world (Chekhov). You have no choice, if you are an artist. You will change the world, if you manage to change yourself. Accept this fact.
How to Work with YourselfYou heard many times: Why do you want to direct this play? Why do you want to play this role?
How about -- Why do you want to be in love with this woman?
Sounds silly, doesn't it? They won't ask you, if they can see that you ARE in love.
I want to make sure that you know -- I use the word "love" literally. In my directing class I tell them about my Soviet experience, when I had to fall in love with something impossible -- a play about factory workers who want to increase productivity. Are you smilling? Go ahead, laugh. The fact is that I can't face actors (messengers of the public) without discovering something to be inspired. My friend, if you do it, it's yours, and you have to give life to it. Could it be a monster? Oh, yes, but I had great teachers before me. Eisenstein shot "Battleship `Potemkin'" long before they made "Speed" (a movie about a bus). The topic is nothing, not next to the story. You remember, HOW is WHAT in theatre (art).
So, why do you like this script? Tell me, be simple. It's always something small, single, a detail, which makes all the difference. Don't worry too much about what you DON'T like. Think about the unique. Believe it or not, I never directed Chekhov's four major plays. (Another addition to my waiting wish list). I like the pieces, the flow of drama, but I don't like the "whole thing"! I like this line and that line. I like his monologues. Oh, it's good enough to be attracted! But I don't like his realistic settings (I don't like the experimental "abstract" adaption of Chekhov as well). I have to think about every single property in the scene in order to discover the level of imagery to move further. Table, sofa, chairs? How to make it into a family table with a missing father ("Three Sisters")? An empty chair at the head of the table -- and nobody ever sits in it? No, not enough. What else is in house to indicate the father (Moscow)? Ah, the sofa, that's the real reason, why they never will be in Moscow! What about this sofa? The three of them together, like in a casket (velvet). Dark and deep. Am I talking about lighting? What am I talking about?
I want to see them all the time in front of me -- the sisters. Especially, when they are not on stage! What do I see?
What do you see?
I hope you understand now where the actual directing takes place. Or at least, where it starts.