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2006 Random Page: * mailing list : subscribe!
THR331 * Directing: Laws, Rules, Principles * Topics : Stage Event = Subjective Time + Dramatic Space * amazon.com *

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + time + space + show + spectacle + audience + theory + public +
Read Semio, Place, Time and other "theory" pages!
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Broadway tickets at TickCo. Get the best available Mary Poppins tickets as well as tickets to Wicked and Disney's High School Musical tickets.

Stage Directing Theory
Directing Theory: pre-text, text and super-text
Aha! Here you are, the page that started this directory! At that time I call it "StageMetrics." Now -- StageMatrix. "Maniputalion" (control) of time-space (chronotope) through mise-en-scene (set + actors). The idea -- it should be measured, composed, the way we do 'writing"...
Directors' Forum

Film Directing

This is very serious subject, which requires very serious attention = time.

I don't have it.

Almost 80 years since the term was introduced very little is done to make sure that directors are trained in "method" or "system" settings.

This is strange; directing is much more structured and more "analytical" than acting. The only excuse I can find that "director" is a new profession.

Meyerhold was ambitious, he wanted notation for director's texts, well... but some developed terminology would be nice to have.

In the textbooks we can find chapters about script analysis, working with actors, designers... but this is not the prime focus of directing. It's only tools. Structuring space and time (which is show, i.e. theatrical experience) is not discussed.

One of the reasons why director (like a playwright) is abscent on stage is because he is a REPRESENTATIVE of the audience. He is a delegate, he is preparing the spectacle for them... and this is why he has powers over others on stage and backstage.

Meyerhold wanted to set the rules of directorial aesthetics, to make it a true profession...

THR331 Fundamentals of Direction

Virtual Theatre Forum

Use the first page in Hamlet for the StageMatrix class (see Scene Study).
I touch the subject "Directing Space" in BM and you btter start there.

Time = sense of changes (in space). Einstein understood that we can't have one without another. Time is alway becoming, Space -- Being. The birth to both gives the Public. Their time and enotions produce the energy we use on stage. We borrow that static energy, transforming into kinetic and -- return back to the audience.

Here again we have to remember (psychological) realism (Method term). Psychological versimilitute = imitation of emotional processes. That's what they come to theatre! (emotions through motions)

The question is how do we do it?

2004 * 2007


Sorry, kids. Metrics, matrix? You, live and cyber students, have to struggle together with me...


What the new textbook would I use next time for class?



Components: are the basic parts or “building blocks” that the visual representation is composed of. Can be represented with words, shapes, images, etc. They may be explained in legend, and can be analyzed with regard to the involved “stand-for” relationships.

Visual Attributes: are the visually perceivable characteristics of components, such as color, shape, size, etc.

Composition Principles: are the sistematic ways in which several components are combined with each other into a meaningful composition.

The Possessed 2003
I placed several color plates from Popova's art (Meyerhold's designer) to illustrate the strong conceptual directions (color, shape -- constructivism).

Use the floor plan (bottom): indicate the positions throughout your scene; print draw and bring the second copy for me. Must use all 9 squares.

Mood and rhythm can be conveyed through movement: angular, round movements, jerky / smooth, etc.

Progression – the rate at which things happen -- speed and emotional intensity and energy.

Setting up of rhythms.

"Metric Axis Schema" (ex. clock face).

Grammar: Set of rules for language or any domain of symbols that describes the structure of properly formed constructions.

Mental Representation: The mental content of perceptions, ideas, images, belief, thoughts, memories, and hypotheses. These are symbols because they stand for something else. There is no reason that the representation or symbol has to be discrete.

Schema: Schematic representation of some event that influences memory.

Symbol: Entities that stand for other entities, such as highway road signs standing for various road conditions. Numerals are marks on paper that represent numbers, which are abstract entities.



LESSON 1: The Body
LESSON 2: Movement
LESSON 3: Levels
LESSON 4: Natural vs. Unnatural Blocking
LESSON 5: Axioms and Blocking Strengths
LESSON 6: Physicalized Blocking
LESSON 7: Risk
LESSON 8: Blocking a Scene
LESSON 9: Blocking Test
LESSON 10: Evaluation

[ paintings by Popova, Meyerhold's designer + photos from M' shows ]

• The emphasis is on the actor, working with minimal props and scenery.
• The spectator is compelled to use their imagination.
• The actors rely on physical plasticity and expression.
• The words of the playwright may be transformed by the director.
• Rhythm becomes uppermost in the director's and the spectators' minds. look of the work is carefully constructed, like painting a picture.
• The stylised theatre can produce any type of play from Aristophanes to Ibsen.
[ Vsevolod Meyerhold by Jonathan Pitches; Routledge, 2003 (53) ]

[ style page? ]

"Theatricality" -- glossary

+ THE GROTESQUE -- The grotesque isn't something mysterious. It's simply a theatrical style which plays with sharp contradictions and produces a constant shift in the planes of perception. (Gladkov 1997:142)

"Composition" : Meyerhold often looked to visual stimuli when preparing a production. His own pictorial imagination was highly developed, but he recognised that there were many other sources to stimulate his thinking and one of those was the Spanish painter and printmaker, Goya (1746-1828). [Francisco Goya's The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, 1797]

Economy Principle: The methods of Taylorism may be applied to the work of the actor in the same way as they are to any other form of work with the aim of maximum productivity. (Braun 1991:198) [editing techniques, cutout the extra -- dance logic? poetry of motion] only what is absolutely necessary

1) an absence of superfluous, unproductive movements; 2) rhythm; 3) the correct positioning of the body's centre of gravity; 4) stability. (Braun 1991:198)






directing group (new) pages:

Stage section --





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METRIC * Etymology: Greek metrikE, from feminine of metrikos in meter, by measure, from metron measure -- more at MEASURE
1 plural : a part of prosody that deals with metrical structure
2 : a standard of measurement < no metric exists that can be applied directly to happiness -- Scientific Monthly >
3 : a mathematical function that associates with each pair of elements of a set a real nonnegative number with the general properties of distance such that the number is zero only if the two elements are identical, the number is the same regardless of the order in which the two elements are taken, and the number associated with one pair of elements plus that associated with one member of the pair and a third element is equal to or greater than the number associated with the other member of the pair and the third element
"I began as a director with a slavish imitation of Stanislavsky." (311)
(Quotations and # of pages are from MEYERHOLD SPEAKS. [Notes on some of V.E. Meyerhold's utterances at rehearsals and in conversation, as recorded by Alexander Gladkov. Translated by Karen Black. "Pages from Tarusa", Little Brown Boston 1964.]
The directorial revolution in theatre happened at the time of the birth of cinema, the new technology of storytelling, where the visual language was everything. Now we know that director in film is a king. Theatre had to react to the natural "naturalism" of the camera. Naturalism in theatre, which came together with the age of photography, was replaced by symbolism, expressionism; every new decade was a revolution. Stanislavsky believed that theatre needs a new theory of acting, M. believed that there must be a theory of directing. The two went into different directions. No, they are not the opposites, they had different subjects. The twentieth century was fast-moving. Maybe it was too fast, we had no time to reflect, to understand the changes. Only later we noticed the new phenomena -- the director's theatre. Directing is still a new profession...

The rest on Meyerhold's theories is on the biomechanics webpages like BioM II.

"Matrix" is the form, which is unseparatable from the essense (the Constructivists/Formalism in the 20s define the essense as form, or form as a true essense).

"In art, the important thing is not to know, but to surprise." M (317)
"Metrics" means that we can calculate and measure the organization of space and time on stage through actor's movement... or any other changes -- light, sound, scenery.... Actor is the guide of drama, our representative on stage...

[ I advise to read Chronotope, Time and Space pages in Biomechanics directory.


"To some people, the image of an abyss calls forth the thoughts of chasm; to others, the thought of a bridge. I belong to the second group." M (317)



Popova's images from www.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/popova.html

Kinetics: Actor is the machine that activates stage images. Actor is the pointer of the drama, shifting our interest throught the action (supported by all other elements of staging). We block actors according to the dramatic flow... they organize; the dymanics of arranging the set for actors and actors dictating this arrangements for a director. Actor is that emotional bridge....

Directors... Everything on stage is a message (semiotics) and therefore must be measured (formalism, structuralism and constructivism). Talent asks for craft, craft -- for precision.

Energy exists in two forms -- potentiality and dynamics. Kinetics is a transition from potential to actual. We usually call it "dramatic" (even in everyday life). The art of this cosmic transformation we try to present on stage. If you came from the pages of dramatic analysis, you know that this process is scripted in a play. But how to make it fully visible?
Mise-en-Scene (Fr.) is a key term for stagematrix, directorial physical interpretation of action, his stage "texts"....

Yes, we measure everything -- space, time, energy. We can measure the space, time and power on stage no less than we do it outside of theatre. They in the twenties loved to consider themselves as engineers, not artists. They rejected the romantic notion of mysterious inspiration and believed that art has the science as its foundation. But the old gods do not die easily; I still see a lot of resistance to the idea that there is no border between art and science. And art is the most complicated science of all.

If you studied already the floor plan section (Direct Gateway Page), you know that the nine basic squares on stage is enough combinations to create very complex movement. If you add the vertical dimension with its 9 squares, you understand that we have 3D space with more positions than we can handle. Mind you, I talk about the basic, neutral (empty) space. The moment you add light to it, it becomes endless in possible variations. So, Meyerhold thought that director can look at this space of action as painter at blank canvas....

The complexity of elements makes us believe that "art" can do it thought intuition, inspiration, talent only... No, not directors, my friends! We fintasize in order to plan, said Nietzsche (or somebody else). Mass scenes are the most intriguing task for a director -- the "group-ing"; that is the moment you understand the power of stage and staging. [Mise-en-Scene (blocking)]

So, what is this profession - directing?

To give DIRECTIONS to our imagimation. To guide our thoughts and emotions. To direct the flow of time in us, to focus our energy of living. Any show could be seen as a structure we enter to experience or to discover ourselves. Aristotle called it "catharsis": the process of cleaning our emotional being through stimulated crisis. Why do we need this purification or purgation of the emotions? Because many of our problems are not solved and can't be solved; we need this stage of purgatory while we are alive. Pity and Fear, he wrote. That is what you direct. Bring my fears out to consciousness, give them expression -- and you will renew my spirit through release from tension.

[I have no time to demonstrate the tradition of church in theatre, including its inner architecture. Three areas: public, stage, backstage (look at floor plans of churches). Three different functional spaces.]



Visual composition (better explained on my film pages @ Film-North

meyerhold.us * pages

* Eisenstein introduced the premise of dialectical montage by describing his experiences on the theatrical stage:

Theatre's basic material derives from the audience: the moulding of the audience in a desired direction (or mood) is the task of every utilitarian theatre (agitation, advertising, health, education, etc.). The instrument of this process consists of all the parts that constitute the apparatus of theatre because, despite their differences, they all lead to one thing - which their presence legitimates - to their common quality of attraction.(30)
Even here, at such an early stage in his career and having made no major feature films, Eisenstein appeared to be describing dialectical montage. The instruments he describes above take the form in cinema of shots which, when they collide, function to mould the audience emotionally. As he goes on to suggest:
An attraction (in our diagnosis of theatre) is any aggressive moment in theatre, i.e. any element of it that subjects the audience to emotional or psychological influence, verified by experience and mathematically calculated to produce specific emotional shocks in the spectator in their proper order within the whole. These shocks provide the only opportunity of perceiving the ideological aspect of what is being shown, the final ideological conclusion.
Another aspect of revolutionary Soviet theatre which clearly influenced Eisenstein's montage, was its cubist and futurist art principles. Although he did not specifically equate his montage with such a 'Western' term as cubism Eisenstein, in accordance with the cubist aesthetic, believed that the best pieces of montage were those which are incomplete.
We find a prime example of this cubist/futurist design working in theatre in Meyerhold's model for The Bathhouse, with its conflicting vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines and its sparse, industrial aesthetic parallels quite sharply with many of the shots (with their conflicts of scales, lines, etc.) found in Eisenstein's films (the urban landscape of Strike with its scaffold structures and platforms is clearly influenced by Meyerhold's set designs).
I love to re-do my old works. People often tell me that I spoil them in the process. Perhaps, but I have never once been able to watch a performance which I have done without a desire to change something. M (312)

This statement demonstrates the nature of directorial process: rehearsals are the time for a director to work. The show time is for the public and actors...

There are not that many webpages on Meyerhold, but I will collect them. I promise.

There are several pages in Theory Directory related to Stage Directing (Mise-en-Scene, for example -- but from the theory POV).

The term itself is not well known and needs more definitions!

"Emotional space" = subjective?

Actor is a transition from the objective to subjective space.

The only way to do it is to see space-time as one entity! See Chronotope Page!


Make several copies of your floor plan and keep them in your master file (notebook); you will need them to draw and redraw the movenet in your scenes.

What scene from Hamlet are you working on?

Write / number the main changes in positions (actors) on your floor plan.

Notes for Myself

More connectings (links) to the Biomechanics pages!
Next: film directing
Use the combination approach ("squares" and "clock") for your "acting areas" metrics. I re-numbered "9 Squares" (western style), "1" = DStage Right (the way we read, left to right)... clock

"Clock" translation: UC = 12, DC = 6, CR = 9, CL = 3...

Why both?

Line is a point's trajectory (dynamisn, dramatism); the paths (basic; line, triangle, square -- the rest is combinations). "Line" = melody, story.

"Rondo" or "book" (covers) principles (return to the same spot is emphisizing the change). The SAME and the DIFFERENCE (repetition is needed for "reading").

We are talking about (stage) directions in terms of vectors only. It could apply to colors or masses.

"Vectors" are the link between space and time, the director is at that moment of transition between the two. Stay there, time gives birth to space and space pregnant with time...


2004 & After

projects: Oedipus 2005

new: Taming of the Shrew 2004

missing: film acting

directing wish list (short):



Virtual Theatre: Directing, Acting, Drama, Theory

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare

Class One Act: Proposal Chekhov

ReadSpeaker AudioFeed - Podcast of this blog

The "gravitas": downstage right is the "heaviest" part? Not DC?

The "motion" (accelaration, accoring to Eistein) creates the "mass" (mass of [stage] event and "depth of event" in film theory).


























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