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Theatre director: Job description

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A theatre director has responsibility for the overall practical and creative interpretation of a dramatic script or musical score.

They are involved in the whole process, from the design and pre-production stages, right through to the final performance.

Directors work closely with their creative and production teams, the performers and the producer to create a performance which connects with the audience. They therefore need to be able to coordinate effectively across a range of disciplines and with artistic vision.

Most directors are usually employed on a freelance or fixed-term contract basis. They can be employed as artistic or resident directors in repertory companies.

Some directors are also writers, designers and performers and may write, devise, design and act in their own work.

Typical work activities

Some theatre directors may act as an administrator or producer depending on the staffing structure and size of the theatre.

They may work alongside an executive administrator or general manager who heads the theatre, or an artistic director who selects the plays and determines the programming.

Specific tasks can vary depending on the actual role and type of theatre but common activities include:

  • programming and budgeting;
  • working with writers through workshops or script development schemes;
  • adapting a script and, if the play is newly written, working with the writer or collaborating with playwrights;
  • breaking down a script, analysing and exploring the content and conducting relevant research;
  • translating and interpreting a script or musical score;
  • holding auditions for productions, selecting and hiring designers, musicians, etc.;
  • managing time and organising people and space;
  • attending production meetings with set designers;
  • organising rehearsals;
  • communicating and liaising with all parties involved, including actors, the creative team, the production team and producers;
  • attending preview performances and preparing detailed notes for the cast and creative and production teams;
  • helping to publicise the production by giving interviews and leading discussions.

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Written by AGCAS editors
August 2015

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