Directing for the Stage

Directing for the Stage

Directing for the Stage

Fall 2016

Instructor: Peter King

Course Objective: In this course you will learn how to analyze a play; how, from your analysis, to create a concept and a design for your play; how to audition, cast, and set rehearsal schedules; and how to employ the basic tools of directing: composition, picturization, and movement. You will also develop your acting skills by acting in each other’s plays. The short plays you direct will be presented before an audience.

Text: Backwards and Forwards, David Ball; A Sense of Direction, Bill Ball.

Units of Study


A. Why Direct? (Sense of Direction “SOD”: Art, Consciousness, Belief, Unity pp. 3-12,)

(SOD: Intuition, Creativity, Positation pp. 13-22)

B. What to direct?

C. Play Choices

II.Play Analysis

A. Prompt Books (Directing for the Stage pp. 277-283)

B. Backwards and Forwards

C. Aristotle (SOD: The Cornerstones for Success pp. 23-29)

D. Dramatic Action: Unit Breakdown

E. Character


A. Theme

B. World (SOD: World of the Play pp. 30-32)

C. Metaphor (SOD: Metaphor pp. 33-36)

D. Concept Presentation Workshop

IV.Auditions, Casting, Rehearsals Schedules

(SOD: Auditions and Casting pp. 37-43, Relation to Actors pp 44-69)

V.The Fundamentals of Staging

A. The Ground Plan: Action, Obstacles, Acting Areas, Levels, Flow

B. Basic Terminology (Fundamentals of Play Directing pp. 33-40)

C. Composition: (FPD pp. 68-126)

D. Movement: (FPD pp. 146-182)

D. Scene Presentation Workshops

VI.Enrichment: Actor Coaching

A. As Ifs

B. Caps

C. Business

VII.Polishing: Rhythm, Pacing, and Build Exercises

(FPD pp.-183-210)

VIII.The Final Week: Tech and Dress Rehearsals, Performance

(SOD pp. 93-149)

IX.Tricks of the Trade

(Backwards and Forwards pp. 81-96)

X.Course Set-up


  1. Class starts promptly. Making your cast wait for you is disrespectful, right? They won’t show up on time if you don’t. Hey, try being early and start on time whether the others are there or not.
  2. Your presentations will be presented according to the agreed upon schedule. Please be ready to present on your day. Postponing puts the entire class behind.
  3. Because directing and acting take place on a stage in front of others, any time you miss class, whether excused or not, your work and others will be affected. You can’t learn to direct by reading a book. You must be present in class.

Journal Entries: You will be asked to take notes, jot down your brilliant ideas, and chronicle your work in this course as both an actor and director. Like an artist’s sketchbook, it will include lots of rough ideas you want to try in your rehearsals as both actor and director. I will not collect or grade these, but you will rely on them to write your quarterly assessments.

Promptbooks: you will develop a promptbook for the play you direct. It will show your analysis, concept, and staging, and will be a major portion of your final grade. You may do this electronically if you are comfortable with uploading your script and taking notes in the script on your device. Otherwise an old-fashioned 3-ring notebooks works very well.

Presentations: You will present your work often in this class. Please prepare thoroughly so you don’t waste everyone’s time.

Written Assessments: You will write quarterly self-assessments discussing what techniques have helped you the most, which techniques you feel most confident in using, and which techniques still elude you.

Park Productions: All directing students will attend the fall musical.A great way to learn what or what not to do as a director is to watch other people’s work. Get in free by ushering!

Student-Directed Play Performances: Your major exam for this course will be the play you direct for the Assembly tentativelyWednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 or the evening performance Friday, Jan. 20, 7 – 9pm. We will need to rehearse your plays in the evenings a couple of times before the Wednesday assembly or the Friday evening performance.


  • Three-ring binder for your prompt book and other handouts.
  • Some form of journal, either paper or electronic.
  • Your two Texts: Backwards and Forwards and A Sense of Direction.
  • Props and Costuming. When presenting exercises and scenes you and your actors must bring all necessary props and costumes.

Attire: wear clothing you are comfortable moving around in. We will be doing a lot of physical work in this class. When presenting scenes or exercises as actors you must wear clothing suitable to the character and situation.


  1. Participation (your day-to-day involvement as an actor and director) 40%
  2. Presentations (this will weigh more heavily for your directing than acting) 40%
  3. Written Assessment 20%