New to acting and the inner life of the theatre, I am fascinated by all of it. As a lifelong student of leadership and a practicing executive coach I’ve been riveted on Phil Jordan, the director. I entered this production wanting to discover if directing people in a play was different from in corporate settings. I’m delighted to report that best practices are, well, best practices in both domains. And I’ve discovered a delightful difference.
I asked Phil today what he liked most about being a Director. He said, ‘rehearsals,’ because he likes the interaction with the actors. It’s clear even to this newbie that he loves the challenge of shepherding creative people. What I see is him allowing the actors to find their characters and develop them (within his vision) without intrusion. So, I asked him what he does when it isn’t working.
“Actors are very good at reading the director,” he tells me. “They pick up the director’s vibe very quickly, so I don’t make it about living up to my vision. I ask myself how I can help them make it better. So, before I ask something of them, I ask myself, “what’s the next best thing to say that will best help them go deeper into themselves for their character.”
Perhaps its because the theatre’s lifeblood is creativity that he found this approach, for I cannot recall a corporate executive ever framing his primary role as one of growing his people’s reliance on their own wisdom and creativity. Imagine, the energy that could be released and sustained if our institutional leaders were so inclined.
From my vantage point, I see its effect in rehearsals. People are giving 150% every night. Every run through runs deeper and better. The cast is close and supportive. We solve problems together; asking each other how can I help. Laughter rings out easily and often. Every layer added makes it better and more exciting. People are popping ideas and Phil is listening.
This director realizes that the path to a truly brilliant production lies in supporting his people to depend on their own creativity. And, even this thespian newbie can already see…
Dead Man’s Cell Phone is going to be truly brilliant !