Directing your own writing

For the past two projects I’ve worked on I have directed my own writing. Before I did this I heard cautionary tales in the vein of “never direct your own work”, or the flip side of this story that directing your own work is easier than not because you know the work inside out and backwards.

The trouble can often be how well you know the work, making you too precious about it and unable to see any flaws. It’s possible that an element of preciousness may prevent me from being able to hand my writing over to another director. I don’t know, I’ve never been presented with the opportunity but I’m sure that at some stage I will send a little play of mine out there to grow up in someone else’s care. Currently, however, I am directing my own work.

The last time I did this I actually found it surprisingly refreshing. When putting the text in the hands of the cast I definitely didn’t feel I knew everything there was to know about it. Something really nice about working on a piece from beginning to end is seeing what other people bring to it, what new viewpoints they can open up and what new light they can shed on your work.

At times it can be hard to decide whether to bring your authorial insight into play in a rehearsal or not. Whether you should say “actually when I wrote this I was thinking…” or “I wrote this bit because of…”; how much can you speak for yourself as a writer and how much should you just let your words speak for you and point the way of the production?

I don’t find directing my own work easy in the slightest, but I also don’t find it uncompromisingly challenging. I think there’s a knack to it, certainly, and I don’t think I have it yet but at the moment I enjoy the process. That being said, I would quite like to direct on a pre-existing text next!

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