Regina Little Theatre hosts directing workshop

It’s not the director’s chair, but it’ll still make you feel pretty important. Jon Tyson via Unsplash

Nora Berg leads a workshop that goes beyond fundamentals

When attempting to learn a new skill, workshops from people who are experienced in that skill can be a valuable asset. For those learning how to direct theatre productions, Regina Little Theatre’s Fundamentals in Directing for the Theatre workshop allows them to learn from an experienced director.

The Regina Little Theatre is a community theatre here in Regina. The theatre is run almost entirely through volunteers, from directors to actors to stage crew. They present full-length and one-act shows for 10 months out of the year. In addition, they also present workshops like the Fundamentals in Directing for the Theatre workshop, which I had the opportunity to attend.

This workshop was led by Nora Berg, who recently directed the Regina Little Theatre production of Sylvia. Since 1981, Berg has worked with or for the Regina Little Theatre. In the workshop, Berg appeared to have a great wealth of knowledge when it came to directing and working in the theatre and was clear that she didn’t get everything right the first time, which is an important message for a workshop directed towards beginner directors.

The workshop was advertised by the Regina Little Theatre through their website and their Facebook page. It stated that the workshop was best for novice and intermediate directors. While I believe that it’s an accurate description for the workshop, a basic understanding of the process of taking a production from auditions to rehearsal to performance was necessary. For someone who may take a similar workshop as their very first introduction to theatre with little knowledge beforehand, there may have been some confusion.

The advertising also listed the workshop under two different titles. The poster called it “Solid Foundations in Directing for the Theatre” while the Facebook advertisement called it “Fundamentals in Directing for the Theatre.” The workshop focused on casting, blocking, script analysis, and the rehearsal process, according to the website. I found that this wasn’t a great description of what the workshop was about. While casting, blocking, script analysis, and the rehearsal process were all covered, there was a lot more covered too. Considering what all was discussed, those four topics feel small.

We discussed a lot about the audience, play selection, the set, and about what is needed to be a director. Those were topics I wasn’t expecting while I was at the workshop because it wasn’t one of the advertised topics.

Before the workshop I had to register, and the process honestly confused me. There was no form to fill out, just an email address to reach for “registration and enquiries.” I wasn’t sure what that meant because I didn’t know what information to give them. Eventually after considering this for several days, I sent out an email saying that I would like to register and what information they would need to know for the registration – and that was it. They responded saying that I was registered with that simple email. Despite the advertisement giving an age limit, they didn’t ask me for my age. All they needed was my name and then they provided me with the email to send an e-transfer to for the registration fee.

I did learn quite a bit at the workshop, so here are the basics of some of the new information I picked up:

Know your audience. Know who normally shows up to performances by the same company and what they really like. If your audience wouldn’t appreciate swearing, either pick a play with less swear words or cut out the ones in the script you’ve picked. Going out of your audience’s comfort zone with the script could be detrimental for your show, no matter how good your actors are. Stick to the status quo when it comes to plays you choose.

Don’t do it alone. You have a team behind you; make sure it’s a good team. And within that team, delegate. As a director, you don’t have to do everything yourself; and as a new director, don’t feel like you have to know everything on your own. Talk to other directors. Ask them what they would do in your situation or for tips on things you may be struggling with. Get a mentor who’s directed other plays. If someone is volunteering their time to direct a play, it’s because they love it – and people always want to talk about things they love. Another director will be happy to talk to you about directing because they love it too.

As a director, leading a rehearsal is imperative. Controlling a rehearsal is like managing a classroom for a teacher, but in the theatre. Everything may feel like chaos but, as a director, you have to be calm. You have to make sure you are in charge, otherwise you’ll end up with even more chaos. Nora Berg described it as driving a bus and the stage manager being in the passenger seat. If everyone comes up to the wheel and tries to turn the bus in a different direction, eventually you’ll get lost. Instead, if someone wants to turn the bus in a different direction, they have to tell you, the driver and director, and you get to decide whether or not you’ll make the turn.

While I was at the workshop, it felt like there was an elephant in the room – namely, me. This may have been my social anxiety talking, but I felt out of place. When I walked into the room, everyone knew each other through the theatre; I had never been before. I sat quietly and listened while people made jokes and references to other shows they had been in that everyone else knew. I do understand that making references can help people understand, it just made me feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there because I didn’t know the references. The Regina Little Theatre appears to be a close-knit community where everyone knows each other, and I was simply an outsider.

While the workshop was a great learning experience, be aware that if you’ve never been before you’ll likely be walking into a room full of friends and acquaintances while you may be neither. On March 19, the Regina Little Theatre will be presenting another workshop, this one by Nena Hawkes called An Introduction to Mask Theatre.


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