Who's the boss?

I love being an assistant director, however nebulous my job might seem at times. I love feeling necessary to the process, and helping rehearsals and performances to run smoothly, and problem-solving, and multi-tasking. The most important part of my job is to be a good communicator and disseminater of information—I'm basically a liaison between the production and the company. I also often act as another pair of eyes, and I'll happily give my 2 or 4 cents when asked, but my primary responsibility is facilitating other people's creativity, not indulging my own. The directors who are the most fun to assist use me as a collaborator; more often than not, though, my mind is consumed with schedules and blocking. And any AD will attest to the fact that we spend a lot of hours of every day consciously NOT giving our opinions. I don't mind that, not really. I use a different part of my brain as an AD—the organized, attentive to detail part—and I'm okay with turning off the creative side in order to be happy and good at my job.

Here's the thing, and it's so important that it's amazing how easily I forget it. The thing is: directing is better. In the past few days working on Tosca, I have made more decisions at work than I usually make over an entire rehearsal period (a normal one, with several weeks). And they weren't decisions about what time to call people to rehearsal, or about how to approach the soprano with a note, or about who needs to know the piece of information I've just learned. I made quite literally DOZENS of decisions about what the set and props and lighting should look like (the show is a remount, but since we're in a different space a lot of things had to change). I saw ways that the singers could more easily accomplish their staging, and rather than diplomatically leaning over to the director with a "Do you like what she's doing?" or a "I wonder if it would work if he..." or a "I liked it better when she used to...," I just walked up on the stage and changed it. It felt good. Assisting is comfortable and well-paying, and I've become very good at it, but it really just isn't the same. My idea of heaven has always been a rehearsal that I'm in charge of, and it's good to be reminded that that's still true.

They don't call me Little Ms. Bossy for nothing, you know.


  1. Maybe being organized AND knowing what you are doing AND being creative AND having fun are NOT mutually exclusive...

  2. NICE. Well put.

    Enjoy directing Tosca at the Miller!!

  3. rosejean goddardMay 23, 2010 at 1:36 AM

    Beautifully explained differences between director and assistant director. And since the difference is so clear to you, LMB, you are good at both and either!
    Thank you for the exquisite clarification.....
    And I love your getting up on that stage and telling it the way it is!
    Grandma Bossy


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