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3.3: The Director and the Script - A Continuum

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  • It is the primary function of the modern director to interpret the script and to develop an artistic vision or production concept. This fundamental approach based on their reaction to the script varies along a continuum. Using the faithful approach, the playwright is treated as the production’s primary creator. The director serves the dramatist and attempts to realize the play as literally as possible. Using this approach, the director retains the time and place exactly as described and follows all stage directions indicated by the playwright as closely as possible.

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    In Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, first presented In 1604, the Duke of Vienna Is disgusted with the moral decay he sees with Ills people and pretends to take a leave of absence. While In disguise, he observes how Ills second-in-command, Lord Angelo, Is corrupted by power. Director Ralf Remshardt moved the action to the 1960s Mad Men era in order to make the forces of control and freedom more accessible to a contemporary audience. Executing Ills concept, set designer Jamie Frank provided a set with a corporate space above and a background of advertising slogans below. The costume design by Erica Baseom provided a sharp divide between the bohemian citizens of Vienna and the suited figures that rule them. Photos by Jamie Frank.

    The translator approach is probably the most common in today’s theatre. The director honors the spirit of the play as received but may depart from many of the specifies. Usually the original dialogue is left intact, but stage directions, the time and place of the action, and many other details may be altered. Productions using this approach are often based on a director’s strong vision of the play. In this way, the production finds its own unique style.

    Auteur is a French word meaning “author.” In this approach, the script serves as raw material that the director feels free to shape and reshape according to his or her artistic intentions. At its most extreme, this approach uses the play as a jumping-off point, adding, subtracting, and rearranging text at will. Bear in mind that what we have illustrated is a continuum, and that the work of any particular director may be located at any point.

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