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Practical Concerns in Directing [DRAM 323]

DRAM 323/3.0 Practical Concerns in Directing             

INSTRUCTOR Grahame Renyk 


Exploration of practical preproduction needs. Topics may include casting, staging, theatre configuration, textual alteration, rehearsal technique, period research, design approaches. 

LEARNING HOURS    120 (36Pc;18G;66P) 

PREREQUISITE    Registration in a (COCA, DRAM, MAPP, MUSC, MUTH, or STSC) plan and a grade of B in DRAM 321/3.0 


Dram323 is an introduction to the craft of directing with a particular focus on the preparation a director does prior to the first day of rehearsals. These processes are often hidden from view because they occur almost entirely outside the context of rehearsals. Dram323 reveals and explores these processes and makes the argument that good preparation is what differentiates accomplished productions from other less successful attempts at making theatre. 

The core component of Dram323 is the Director’s Workbook Assignment. We will spend the entire semester working on this assignment. It will ask you to take a play and develop a detailed plan for directing it. This will include conducting a script analysis, developing approaches to scenography and staging, addressing the logistics of scheduling and planning, and imagining how you might stage a key scene from the production.   

In addition to the preparation processes explored in the Director’s Workbook, we will also explore how directors can use scenographic elements like sound, visual design, and staging to shape audience experience. As part of this exploration, you will participate in a series of devising exercises intended to develop skills in creating dynamic and affective theatrical images.  Rather than focus exclusively on traditional approaches to blocking/staging scenes from a script, we will use these exercises to explore how directors can use theatrical techniques to create exciting, engaging, and innovative experiences for audiences (particularly when resources are limited).   

Please note: attendance is ESSENTIAL for this course. Dram323 relies on an significant amount of participatory group work, and because of that, we need serious commitment from students in this course. Your group will need you to be an active and engaged participant (just like a production team would need you to be an active and engaged director).  Professionalism and participation will therefore be rigorously assessed in this course because those behaviours are also essential to being a successful director.  



To complete this course students will demonstrate their ability to: 

  • Analyze a script for its dramaturgical structure, including its rhythms, meanings, and imagery. 
  • Formulate a directorial approach that proposes a unique interpretive & creative perspective for the project AND addresses the practicalities of staging a particular script as a live theatrical production. 
  • Create a production schedule and rehearsal plan that makes smart use of rehearsal time and artist labour. 
  • Develop strategies for approaching the scenography of production, which includes plans for working collaboratively with designers and other colleagues on the production team.   
  • Devise dynamic and affective theatrical images that effectively and imaginatively incorporate both sound and visuals in the staging. 
  • Develop a thoughtful and ethical approach to leadership that balances the needs of the production with the needs of those working on it. 
  • Develop and offer productive, constructive, and analytically sound feedback on the creative work of others, and respond thoughtfully to feedback, when offered.