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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

February 11, 2010

Assistant Directing Twelfth Night, by Charleston Stage Resident Actor Justin Tyler Lewis

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:36 pm

My position as the Assistant Director of Twelfth Night came along as kind of a last-minute surprise.  Marybeth Clark (my boss, the Associate Artistic Director of Charleston Stage, and the director of Winnie-the-Pooh) and I had discussed the possibility of me working as the Asst. Director for Winnie at the end of the season and Julian Wiles (the director of Twelfth Night and Producing Artistic Director) thought that I might be interested in asst. directing Twelfth Night with him.  A novice in the field of directing, I was apprehensive about taking on this huge duty for one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies and a show in which I was also performing, but Julian’s confidence in me and my familiarity with and love for Twelfth Night urged me to accept.

Now in my third week of rehearsal for Twelfth Night, I have already learned a slew of new things about directing, acting, and theatre as a medium.  My first and perhaps biggest lesson has been in the stamina and focus it takes to direct a full-length play.  The director must attend lengthy, nightly rehearsals with a mind ready to present ideas, adjust timing, communicate with 1-20 actors, and think critically and on the spot.  As an actor, I’ve had the luxury to focus in exclusive detail on my single part in the whole, but the director must always take steps forward and back to keep the parts in tune with the whole.

The second lesson I’ve learned from asst. directing Twelfth Night has been the necessity of delegation and prioritization.  A successful show – especially a multi-layered and celebrated show such as Twelfth Night – requires that a nearly incomprehensible number of elements must converge and diverge at precise moments.  So, to manage the scripts, lights, sets, costumes, props, actors, and budgets simultaneously is no small feat – and doing all of this while remaining artistically sharp is nothing short of amazing!  In the end, while my final contribution to Twelfth Night may be small, the knowledge I have gained from asst. directing is great and it has established in me an even greater admiration for fine directors and directing.

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