A director’s perspective on PlayPen

We have been thrilled to be able to offer people the opportunity direct for the first time as part of the Playpen process, as a rehearsed reading the play offers the chance to give directing a go in a supportive environment and relatively pressure free. Here Roger Boyle one of our new-to-directing directors talks about the experience.
How would you describe the experience of directing for the first time?

I suppose it is the first time, as other times I have directed were ages ago and really rather different.  Having been on the receiving end [acting] I know that all directors are different, and distilling good practice is not simply observation as the character of the individual and the practice cannot really be disentangled.  So I didn’t worry about just doing it “my way” and have found that personally satisfactory, but getting clear opinion from the cast will be difficult, I think.

How did you approach the piece?
The piece turned out to be rather different to the sample 20m we did last spring and gave some challenges.  A lot of it is driven by events and people who/which are not displayed and often are wholly implicit, so I wanted the cast to agree on what those features actually were.

What do you think are the challenges, good and bad, of working with a new play with the writer involved in the process?
A composer once told me that the worst thing about publishing a piece of music was that you lose all control over it; musicians/conductors can interpret it however they please and if you don’t like it, tough.  As a writer, I agree (although my director was very sympathetic to my intentions).  So having the writer present certainly allowed gaps in intent to be filled easily in most cases – but not all; after casting a character as male I learned that [s]he had been intended to be female.  There wasn’t much I could do about that.  That sort of experience actually helped me as a writer – be very clear about what you want if you definitely don’t want the director to fiddle with it.

Who has inspired you as a director?
Unfacetiously, every director I have worked with.  The variety of approaches and ideas has been of great value, even if they are things I did not choose to use.

Have you enjoyed directing – would you do it again?
I’d jump at the opportunity if given it, but it’s a privilege to be earned: whoever is staging or writing something needs to have some faith in you.

Why do you think audiences should come and see the play?
To be entertained by a piece of theatre

Blinds written by Caroline Clark, directed by Roger Boyle. performed by Lynne Baker, Huldah Knox-Thomas, Catrin Fflur Huws, James Baker, Bob Cook, Denise Williams. It will be presented as a script in hand reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 13th February

Tickets for Blinds are available through the box office 01970 623232 or https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theatre/blinds

The final PlayPen Get to the End project will be presented as follows

13th March 7.45PM 2018 – Death Comes to St Michaels written by Tom O’Malley, Directed by Caroline Clark

More information on PlayPen Get to the End is available here