In honor of our Director Spotlight, we asked our friend Kasey Graham to give us some insight on what it's really like to be in his position, and what he thinks it's vital for actors to know.
A resident director is charged with maintaining the artistic integrity of a show, as set by the director. It includes noting the performances, rehearsing understudies, rehearsing and putting in new cast members, as well as preparing press performances as needed. On some shows the associate director is also the resident while on others it is a separate position. Currently I am the resident director on The Phantom of the Opera national tour and the associate director/resident director on the national tour of Dirty Dancing.
Here are five things I think everyone should know about the position:
1. I’m on your side. I have never worked on a show I didn’t want to succeed. This goes double for how I feel about actors. You’re not my children, but you might as well be. I love rehearsing new actors and putting them into a show. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t beam like a stage mother watching you go on for the first time, even if there are a stumble or two along the way.
2. I love actors. I can’t always let your choices onto the stage, but I adore that you make them. Coming into an established production can be tricky. Your job is not to replicate the performance of the actor you are replacing, nor is it to re-interpret the role. When rehearsing a new cast member, I give the bones of what needs to be there. “You have to be down of this wing or that drop will take you out.” Or “Enter, cross directly to him, and challenge him.” What I won’t ever say is, “Enter. Take 3 steps toward him. Yell your line at him and stress the first word.” When the bones are in place I collaborate and let the actor play. The reality is, you’re stepping into a world that has been created. Embrace that world with its limits and its possibilities.
3. I’m not fair. I try, but I can’t always be. Whether it is which cover goes on, or a one-hour rehearsal on a sunny, Friday afternoon. Please know there is a reason for every decision, and it’s never personal. I can promise you that.
4. My eyes are not everywhere at once. Some weeks I may be working in the office or the rehearsal studio more than others. If there is a moment you’re struggling with, or an issue on stage, come to me. The worst possible thing you can do is stew about it. There is a caveat of course: please make sure it’s your issue or moment.
5. I do not have unlimited sh**s to give. This may seem in direct conflict to #4. However, you will be much happier in this business if you pick your battles. Any given day there are thirty questions, concerns, notes, and issues. Is yours worth becoming number thirty-one? Or is it something you might realize tomorrow isn’t really an issue. I mean this with the utmost respect to the craft of acting, but prolonged exposure to the same show can drive a person mad. The tiniest variance or misstep by another actor can rattle you. Sleep on it. If it’s still annoying you the next show, please see #4.
I’m Kasey RT Graham, and I approve this message.