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Meet the directing fellow

posted by Karen McKevitt on Fri, Mar 9, 2012
in General theatre talk , Our shows

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By Brandon Weinbrenner

2 actors. 3 stage managers. 1 director. 1 dramaturg. Me.  Small, simple, fascinating. Red.

As the Bret C. Harte directing fellow, I have been given the opportunity to be the assistant director on our newest production, Red. While I can't say that I am actually directing the show, I get to do something more valuable to me at this stage of my fellowship. I get to observe. Watching director Les Waters sink his teeth into John Logan's script is liking watching quiet, brooding genius at work. Oftentimes Les says nothing at all, but watches, fully open and fully committed to the process. The actors discuss their takes on the play's complex themes and countless art theories while Les listens and provides carefully selected feedback. His directing process seems so effortless that my observation of him inspires me to "Keep it simple, stupid."

So often I feel like we can overcomplicate theatre by worrying about political correctness, appealing to a select demographic, or over-philosophizing the subject matter. At the core of good theatre is sheer entertainment. It's the question of what entertains us as viewers that shapes a unique piece of theatre.  Red is about the relationship between Mark Rothko and his assistant, Ken. Together they discuss art, ethics, and basic humanity. We watch them work and paint, fight and yell, and ultimately define themselves. It's such a simple structure that it's easy to let the script speak for itself and allow the actors to run rampant. I have to say, I truly believe that Les is the perfect director to keep Red as simple and effective as its meant to be.


I feel so lucky to have this fellowship. I not only get to observe a fantastic staff run a giant theatre, but also get to apply what I'm learning to mentoring the teens at the School of Theatre. As the teens put on their own one-acts, I have to ask myself how I would approach directing their material before I can give worthwhile advice to the young directors. This is when you realize how much you've learned. I have more than a year left in my fellowship and as I get to assistant direct more shows, attend more staff meetings, help put on additional events, and basically deepen my experience in the Bay Area's theatre scene, I hope that I grab on to every kernel of knowledge out there for me to discover. By the end of this, I want to be able to lead a production to as great success as I think Les is ultimately leading Berkeley Rep's latest production, Red.



great post

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