I am enough of a theater conservative to assume plays will have directors. It was not until I began working with Pigeon Creek that I learned that Elizabethan acting companies often did not have a director. They might have a company manager, stage manager, rehearsal coordinator, and so on, but for the most part the actors directed themselves. Furthermore, in the case of those groups of whom Shakespeare was a part, the playwright was part of the cast, too.
While comforting from a historical perspective, I was not prepared for my initial experiences of “self-directing”. Being less experienced in Shakespearean theater than many of my acting colleagues, I found myself remaining on the sidelines in terms of observing others and offering my perspective on their work.
She Stoops to Conquer is either my third or fourth ensemble-directed show with Pigeon Creek (I’m told memory is one of the first things to deteriorate as one ages…). I have become more at ease with the concept of actors talking to and offering suggestion to each other. Also, the cast of She Stoops to Conquer is a talented and veteran crew, willing to tell me what they see onstage. It is clear that their goal is to put on the best show possible. Respect for my fellow actors makes it much easier to take direction from them (and it doesn’t hurt that, invariably, the suggestions make my character better and improve the scene). I’ve also surprised myself with having occasional ideas about what I see in rehearsal and discovering that some of my questions and comments seem to be helpful to my fellow actors. Who knew?
So, while my preference in performing is to have a director on board, the experience of ensemble direction continues to inform and enrich my continuing career as an actor. Thank you, Pigeon Creek.