Meet the Players | Uli Wilfer
A theatre production is a universe of its own. To take what is on the page and turn it into a wonderful event for both audience and participants takes a lot of work, which is exciting to share.
Of course, you need actors. But there are also technicians, the people who sell tickets, people who organise rehearsal rooms and venues for the performance, people who look after costume and props, and people who build the set.
The driving force is the director; they provide the vision and communicate it to everyone else. And many find it useful to have a helping hand, another pair of eyes and ears in the rehearsal room: an assistant director.
For my first production with St. Georges, Jekyll & Hyde, I had the chance to assist Stephen. My role started out as prompt during rehearsals, but Stephen and I often had a chat about how it was progressing.
As an assistant you watch the rehearsal from a different perspective to the director. You are able to provide a second opinion if a scene feels strange or not quite right.
The director is not the only one who can benefits from an assistant. The feedback from our cast was that they felt less stressed, because there was someone there to look out for them and offer additional advice. Not having to put your mind into a role, you build up an overview of the production and can spot immediately when something is not going according to plan.
Having an assistant director can therefore only improve on a production. It allows everyone else to focus on what they need to do, whether directing or acting.
It might sound like a lot of work, which it can be, but it is mainly a joy. You see a play grow from lines on a page, to the moment when the characters come alive and the whole play breathes, and it is born each night when the curtain opens.
Since then, I have directed The Importance of Being Earnest and went onto be Assistant Director on our last production of Moira Buffini’s Dinner.
I highly recommend it!