“It’s the Director’s Vision, Not Yours"

Jennifer Butler

I knew that being in a musical instead of the production side of things was going to be a learning experience.  I also knew that the director is the director of the show for a reason and that they have a vision of the show that they want to bring to life.  As a designer, I have dealt with both easy and difficult directors in the past.  It was much easier to accept what the director wants, and at times, I gave up trying to change their mind because it wasn't worth the fight.  As a designer, I learned to accept that the director has their vision and I learned that quickly.

However, it was much harder to accept that concept as an actor.  I know that the director had the vision, and they have that particular job for a reason.

Case in point, wearing a wig for only one scene of an entire show.  I was in the ensemble of a musical that took place in the eighties.  And the director wanted me to wear a wig for just one scene where I was being featured.  I didn't understand why I couldn't just wear the wig for the whole show, and I was panicking about timing.  Most of it was because I was a newbie actor and was afraid of missing my cue.  Would I have enough time to do a full costume change (shoes and dress), as well as a wig?

I spent 3 weeks trying to convince the director that I should just wear the wig for the entire show but she wouldn't have it.

She was reassuring that all would be fine but I wasn't entirely convinced.  The director said this wig was for this one particular character.  To stand out when I was being featured.  She was doing the same for other ensemble members also and it made sense for me as well, but it took a while for me to accept that no matter how hard I fought it, this was a battle that I wasn't going to win.

I didn't want to cause trouble. I just wasn't convinced that as an actor I could handle it. The closer to show time it got, the more anxious I was getting.  I just needed to take a deep breath and calm down.  As an actor, I was (and still am) not very confident with being onstage.

By tech week I had given up the idea that I was going to wear the wig for the entire show and I would have to figure out how to make the wig work for just one scene.

It all ended up okay.  During the three performances, I had no issues with the costume change or the wig and there were people backstage who could help with it all to make things easier.

Looking back at that experience it all makes sense, since wearing the wig helped to distinguish the character for the storyline.  As an actor, I learned a lot about accepting the director’s vision whether it makes sense to me or not.  I learned to have more confidence in what I am doing because I can sing, I can dance, and I can act.

The director has the job for a reason and they want the show to be the best that it can be.