Is This What Shakespeare Intendeth? How Directial Decisions Influence the Final Production
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The author explores the different directorial choices of ten different directors in the context of a variety of Shakespearean productions she attended in 2009. A director is the person responsible for the interpretation of a play and the delivery of that interpretation to the audience. The director has the ultimate voice on all decisions made for a production, from the set, sound, and lighting designs to the blocking and character development. A director must always have a clear concept, or story that they want the play to tell. Directors of Shakespeare have to face several obstacles. First, Shakespearean language poses a challenge to any present-day director, actor, or audience member. Second, a director must find a way to use that language to present the play in a manner that clearly validates the action on stage, and he or she may find many options within Shakespeare's text. For example, he or she may choose to cut or edit the script to shorten the running time, or to draw out a secondary story line. Shakespeare did not include stage directions in his plays, as do most modern day playwrights. Without written directions for blocking, not to mention even small notes in the script indicating gestures or exchanges of props, the director of Shakespeare must look for clues in the dialogue. Every director has the right to pick and choose which of these hints to take literally or otherwise. As a result, every production of a Shakespeare play is bound to be completely different from any other. Shakespearean directors also have the freedom to change the time period or setting of the play, and often will feel the pressure to do so in an attempt for their production to be new and exciting. Other directorial decisions to be made when working on a Shakespearean play are whether or not to employ audience involvement, where to place the intermission, and deciding what offstage action is happening, and if that offstage action is even relevant to their interpretation. A director may use techniques such as improvisation, tableau, dramaturgical meetings, language exercises, cutting of the script, use of communication through .blocking or movement, creating confidence in the actors, use of ambiguity, or use of vocal inflection to create their own unique production.