Written By Melvin Tunstall III

Q: Any directors here? Would love to hear your best directing advice.

You asked and the Directors of TheaterMakers Studios did not disappoint! 

If you’re not up to date on the happenings in our Facebook Group (it’s free!), you missed out on one of our most popular threads of the year. Our tribe of Directors showed up with so much sage advice, we had to compile our top 7  favorites plus a BONUS THREE from the director who has directed 99% of my shows: the fabulous Amy Anders Corcoran! (Pictured above)

7 Tips From the Directors in THEATERMAKERS STUDIOS!


1. Once you establish the rules for your universe, you have to stay within those rules.

We’re starting off with this tip from Steven Schwall because- well, the rules would probably demand us to do so!


2. Trust, encourage, and challenge your actors.

Timothy Van Bruggen brings us what we’re calling the “Power 3” for directors: Trust. Encourage. Challenge. We love to see it!


3. Be a collaborator. 

TheaterMaker Christa Burneff hits the nail on the head. TheaterMaking is the ultimate collaborative art form.


4. Bill Ball’s “A Sense of Direction.”

Jesse David Corti took the words outta Alan Silver’s comment! With dual recommendations, it may be time to move “A Sense of Direction” to your holiday wish list!


5. Be open to “not know” everything. That leaves space to collaborate with your actors and for inspiration in the moment.

Humility is the key ingredient for new TheaterMakers studio member  Jenna Mate. 


6. Casting is 80%. Spend the money on the best people on and offstage.

Donald Jordan comes in at #6 with a little investing advice from the director’s chair. 


7. Do NOT wait until the last minute or even tech week to block the curtain call. Curtain Calls should be handled as importantly as any other scene in the play. It is the last thing an audience sees. My curtain call philosophy has always been, “The story of the play may be over, but the performance is not.”

I agree with Margaret Rose Rubenstein, who said it best in her reply to Christofer Cook’s advice:  “Yes, THIS.” 

Now for your BONUS THREE FROM AAC!!!

I am absolutely thrilled to share a few more tips from the woman who has directed 99% of shows I have written, and over the past 10 years read 100% of my script drafts- which should be a qualification for Theatrical Sainthood. AMY ANDERS CORCORAN simply put- is THE REAL DEAL.  The mastermind behind Disney’s reimagined Little Mermaid, I have bore witness to how Amy implements each of these tips and they are the reason I beg her to direct everything I write. Aspiring directors, take note!

1. Make sure you are on board to tell the story the writers want to tell.

This is my absolute favorite thing about working with Amy. I have had experiences with directors where it was obvious that “putting their stamp on it” was priority #1. Not with AAC. Getting the story I want to tell on stage is what motivates every note and I am a better writer for it. 


2. Always tell the writer how fast you will turn around the draft so they aren’t waiting in agony.

ONCE MORE FOR THE DIRECTORS IN THE BACK! Please, please, please heed this advice! It saves writers so much agony, misery, woe!


3. One for the writers! Always ask directors if they want a copy of the script WITHOUT stage directions. 

I know, I know. I’m a writer too. But what I learned from doing this with Amy is what stage directions are a MUST- which turns out, are MUCH FEWER than playwrights think. Just DUPLICATE that file first and then give it a try. You may be surprised!


That’s just a little direction from me to you. Have a great weekend, TheaterMakers!

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