Published on: 14 December 2020 in Case Studies

Directing Actors: Moving Our Career Development and Skills Programme Online

This year, many of Directors UK's Career Development opportunities have moved online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Directing Actors is one of our most popular member opportunities — but also one of the most challenging to recreate virtually. Below, Career Development and Skills Officer Sean Thomas sets out how he managed the transition to Directing Actors, online.

If you had asked me at the start of the year, “Could you put together an online practical workshop that involved directors working with actors via a video call?” I would have probably replied, “why would you?”

But when we went into lockdown back in March, and production near enough shutdown, one of our many questions was, what would Career Development and Skills look like going forward? We took the time to take a step back, evaluate the situation and began to discuss with our various partners and training providers how we can adapt our Career Development and Skills programme.

Over the past 8 months, out of all the opportunities we have offered our members, this particular session was arguably our biggest challenge; an online workshop that explored the director-actor relationship, interpreting bare scripts without any scene description and then performing these scenes via Zoom.

We put in weeks of research, planning, and tests over Zoom, alongside session facilitator and member of the Directors of Colour Committee, Suri Krishnamma, as well as David Flynn at Spotlight. Finally, using Suri and David’s expertise, we were able to create a session that was both grounded in theory and practice, and was educational, inspirational, and really good fun!

Last year, an actor said to me, “In this country, outside of actually being on set or official rehearsals and readthroughs, directors and actors do not practice enough together.”

What this workshop has taught me is, whether it is in person or online, there is no reason why directors and actors should not be getting more opportunities to hone their craft, discuss ideas and make connections in a safe space outside of the usual pressures of ‘the real thing’.

Directing Actors is always evolving, and we’re constantly developing it to make it more effective - but most importantly, it works.

I hope we start to see more of this throughout our industry, particularly during a time where freelancers such as directors and actors need the support most!

The deadline for the current Directing Actors workshop is Monday 21 December at 12:00 (midday).

To find out more about the content of this workshop, as well as the various other opportunities for Directors UK members, visit the Career Development section of our website.

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