Notes on Directing

By FRANK HAUSER AND RUSSELL REICH

Understanding that the art of directing is the art of getting the best out of people, veterans Hauser and Reich have subtitled their Notes on Directing “130 Lessons in Leadership from the Director’s Chair.” Some of my favorites: Introduce bad news with “and” not “but.” That is, “The costume looks great, and when you keep your hat up, we can see your gorgeous face.” Anger is always preceded by pain. “When an actor jumps to angry choices, look back together for the moment when the hurt occurs because that is what is more important — and more interesting.” Every Object Tells (quoting Romulus Linney): “Everything on the set should be used up, burned up, blown up, destroyed, or otherwise completely chemically altered over the course of the story or else it didn’t belong there to begin with.” And one that could be a mantra for every overburdened parent: Assume that everyone is in a permanent state of catatonic terror. “This will help you approach the impossible state of infinite patience and benevolence that actors and others expect of you.” Full of clear-headed advice, this slender volume communicates more than a shelf of self-help books. What words speak more directly to human drama — whether on the stage or in the bedroom — than #65 and #70: Never, NEVER bully… and Please, PLEASE be decisive?

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