March Madness 2016 is coming up soon, and the directors from last year's event have come together to tell you and any potential directors the best advice they have for handling this crazy one week theatre event.
I interviewed Stefan Verveniotis, Evan Jones, and Michael Davenport, and included my own comments, asking them "What do you think your most important lesson or most helpful tip for next season's directors is?" The following are our responses.
STEFAN: For March Madness, it was very important that you and the actors find motivation for every line the characters speak. What could that character be thinking at that moment that is making them deliver that specific line in that way? What are they trying to accomplish? How does this fit into the overall narrative? And collaboration is awesome. Get ideas from everywhere, not only your team and your actors, but from anywhere you can.
MICHAEL: I had a choreo person and a set/costume person. It was useful to have someone else worry about set and costume, so Elizabeth and I could focus on our own jobs. Also, I picked Emily Pass. She had never done that job before, but I knew she'd be great at it, based on her writing style. She has a knack for visualizing things on stage [...] But yes. Have a team of four.
SEAN: I felt my major failing was a lack of character development. When you get a script that reads almost like complete nonsense, it's important that you find ways to give the story context. I decided the best way to do that was to focus on stylistic genre choices, turning something mundane into something intense and thrilling. In doing that, I left behind my characters as shallow archetypes, with very little that could be called a character arch. My advice - dreaming big sets you apart from the others, but don't forget to fill in the details.
EVAN: March Madness was a valuable learning experience for me last year, since it was my first time directing a stage show. Although I was pleased our team walked away with a couple of awards, I also gained some tips on how to improve. Truth be told, a larger production team helps in many ways. As well, I learned not to hold back on ideas and unique stage directions and trust the actors to put on an over the top performance when heeded!
With all that in mind, I say to those participating this year, break a leg, and enjoy this mad week of theatre and fun.