My 3 Golden Rules for Transitioning from Actor to Direction and Back Again

Julie H. Jordan

OnStage Columnist

As an active member of community theater, I am getting ready to start the rehearsal process for an acting role in And Then There Were None after directing a drama that opened in late October.  So, I am getting ready to switch hats.  Having been involved in both roles (acting and directing), here are a few suggestions for a smooth transition from one to the other.

First of all, it is an adjustment to move from a directing role to an acting one.  It is important to remember the following:  

1.     The vision of the production belongs to the current director.  Now that may seem to be obvious, but after being in charge and making important calls on a production, it is sometimes habit to continue doing so.  This won’t sit well with your director.

2.    If you feel the direction of your character is extremely off-base or something you cannot live with (Note I said “extremely.”  Some concessions should be made for a unique vision), do NOT confront the director during rehearsal time or in front of other actors.  While you may get your point across, you will undermine the director and possibly, alienate other actors.  Believe me, directors remember this.   Speak to the director in private or through email or a phone call.

Many times, a compromise can be made.  Should the director feel strongly enough about his or her choice and is not willing to concede to your opinion, (if you are to remain in the show), you should  respect your director’s decision and move on.

3.    Please do not try to direct your fellow actors either during rehearsal or after.  If the director wishes to change anything about that actor’s character or delivery, he or she will do so!  It is not up to you to work with another actor and give suggestions to him or her unless your director has given you permission to do so.  

Remembering these three guidelines will help you stay active in both directing and acting in community theater and will prevent a lot of headaches throughout the rehearsal process.

Photo: Rehearsal in Seeler Studio Theatre