Thursday, 9 June 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Alessandro Costantini

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Alessandro Costantini trained in directing with Caleb Marshall at Sudbury Theatre Centre.

(May 6, 2016)  After completing my time with this process, I am walking away with a much more detailed understanding of the various juggling acts that an Artistic Director must go through day to day.

Caleb has a very physically approach to the work. In his early years he thought very much that he was rooted in the Stanislavsky approach. After his Russian training he began to work deeper with the system that is about generating physical impulse.

He spoke about directing, and engineering. Engineering being telling actors things like sight-line issues etc. whereas directing is trying to give the artist something to connect to that roots them immediately in the circumstances of the world. Our work is finding the specificity of every moment, every movement, and the audience not notice that it has been thought out.

Sudbury Theatre Centre's production of For Life
Aidan DeSalaiz, Naomi Costain,
Daniel Abrahamson, Chelsey Duplak
Without FORM there is no Art. By the time you open the form is set. There can be 1 mm. of freedom in the form. You are ultimately trying to arrive at a clear form. We spoke about the differences between working with actors who are more connected to their impulses as opposed to let say young artists who may not have had the time or extensive training. In the end its about watching for an actors impulse, and learning how to articulate yourself with them so that you can bring that impulse to life to make a clear choice that supports the story.

He also explained to me the method of Points of Concentration. Which he explored with David Latham at the Stratford Conservatory. This method is about dropping in a word for the actors to explore through a scene, or a run of the piece. It can be different actor to actor or can be something applied to the whole company. It allows you to stretch out what is already there, or lessen it. An example could be the word friendship, soft, or boom. A company viewpoint can be… You’re all too angry, explore the word love as we go through this scene. See how that affects your work.

Perhaps the best kernel of knowledge he offered me was that it is okay to say  “I don’t know yet”. You are not giving up power or losing the respect of your actors. It is still at its core collaboration. I have felt in the past, the need to answer any question and would sometimes find my answer not very helpful. Simply because I thought if I didn’t have any answer that the company would lose a bit of respect or trust in me.

We spoke about designers…
  • Speaking with your designer and not slamming your exact idea on the table. Try and explain the feeling you’re going for, use triggering images. Otherwise why do you need a designer? Let them do their job!
…about casting
  • Bringing in 4 people you know can very well do it, 1 person you think could bring something that the other 4 don’t have, and 1 complete wild card. I thought this was a pretty great method.
…about working with your board
  • Presenting your ideas and selling the board on it. Get them excited and invested in the project. Be sure to be ready to defend your choices if needed, but at the end of the day, they have hired you to steer the company in its artistic direction!
…about budgeting
There was so much to say on this I couldn’t possibly write it all down for you. In the end…I am better for it. I sort of hate budgeting so it was good to hear that everyone kinda does! And that yes, it can be difficult but it is integral…oh.. and always shoot the revenue lower than you think!

Caleb said to me that as an Artistic Director you are essentially an Artistic Articulator. You constantly have to articulate your artistic vision to your staff, artists, your board. You have to remember that all of these people are not characters in a play, if they were they would remember what happened in Act 1. You must be able to articulate the artistic vision in an every changing world around you.

I think the greatest thing I learned is that it truly does take a team of people to run a ship. You hire professionals to do their job so that you don’t need to lie away worry about certain things. Delegation is key, and keeping your artists and tech, and employees happy and clear on the artistic vision is of the utmost importance.

I am very grateful for this opportunity. It was incredibly enriching allowed me to re-examine my process as a director. I look forward to working with Caleb again in the future. I think the STC is a fantastic company and to see the great strides he has made with the programming is very inspiring to me. He is making the STC a place for the community to gather. Ensuring that there is something reflective of all the people in our wonderfully diverse, and flourishing city of Sudbury!

Thank you for this opportunity Theatre Ontario!

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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