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What is a director of theatre productions? What do they do while on the job? How can someone become a director? Let's find out!
There are many different types of directors. Specifically, Hafidz is a director of theatre productions, which means he directs live performances that are presented on a stage. Let's follow Hafidz as he takes us through his experience directing a production for the stage.
Every theatre production starts with a script. The script is what Hafidz analyzes and figures out so that he understands what the story is about and what is required to tell this story.
He then works with his actors so that they can all get the same understanding of the script. Hafidz also helps each actor to understand their character so that they know how to portray them.
This time around, Hafidz worked with a cast—the people who act in the production—made up of young actors for Ceria! Sang Kanchil dan Buaya. The stories of Sang Kanchil are traditional fables from Malaysia and Indonesia about a clever mouse-deer. The show, by dance group Artistari Gentari, was presented at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre for Pesta Raya 2022. Pesta Raya is a yearly arts festival that celebrates Malay arts.
Once everyone has got the script figured out, Hafidz will lead many sessions of rehearsals and help his actors to work on the delivery of their lines and also with their blocking.
Blocking refers to the position of the actors and their precise movements while on stage. Blocking is one of the most important parts of the rehearsal process and it is Hafidz's job to know where each actor should be at all times and their movements. Blocking ensures that nobody moves randomly, causing a whole lot of chaos and confusion!
Sometimes a dance number is involved! Here, the cast rehearses their dance routine. Not only do the cast have to remember their lines and blocking, they also have to remember their dance steps. This is no mean feat, but with plenty of rehearsals and help from Hafidz, practice makes perfect!
Besides rehearsing in their own space, Hafidz and the cast will also get to rehearse at the Esplanade too in order to get a feel of the actual performance space. This is where Hafidz will make changes if needed and to get the cast familiar with the space as it is different from where they usually rehearse.
When show day arrives, Hafidz goes beyond the usual job scope of a director! He helps his actors to get dressed and put on their microphones.
When everyone is ready, it is show time!
Q: What skills do you need to be a director?
Hafidz: I think the most important skill you need to have as a director is imagination, and it has to be as limitless as possible. You have to couple it with a sense of focus, as you have to provide clear direction amidst all the possibilities.
Being friendly helps as well, as a director’s job is to bring out the best of everyone in the cast and it helps to be on good terms with your actors. You’re really there to collaborate and assist, and not to dictate.
Q: What do you need to study to be a director?
Hafidz: It would be preferable to have a diploma or degree in theatre. I obtained a degree in Theatre Arts at LASALLE College of the Arts. The programme doesn’t exist anymore but it’s where I got a theoretical and practical understanding of theatre.
But I have to say that having practical experience in theatre is very useful and beneficial, and it also helps if you have a keen sense of how to direct in theatre. Having industry experience is definitely an advantage when you are considering a career in theatre.
Q: What are some essential tools that you use?
Hafidz: In directing, there are no physical tools that are used. It’s more about how I approach theatremaking, and every director does this differently.
For me, the first thing I do is get an understanding of the script. And if I’m able to, I ask the scriptwriter(s) lots and lots of questions so that I can be clear of the script and that provides me with a sense of how the theatre production can go.
From there, the collaborative work starts as I spend time with the actors to explore the story and their character’s motivations and intentions. All this will be done before we move on to other things in the production.
Now that you know a little more about what it takes to be director, do you think you have what it takes to be one?