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  • Writer's pictureCristiana Ripeanu

How to become a theatre director

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Starting a career in theatre can be a challenge, particularly for emerging directors. Here, experienced director Cristiana Ripeanu shares her tips for becoming a director.

The lighting grid of a black box theatre seen from below.

There is no one single pathway to becoming a stage director. Some of us come from theatre and film families and have been exposed to it our whole lives. Others stumble into it accidentally. Some start as actors who decide they want to take control of the story telling.

Regardless of what your story is and why you’ve decided this is what you want to do with your life, there are some steps you should consider.

Tip #1 - Start watching theatre

Good theatre, bad theatre, there’s something to learn from all. Try to analyze what worked and what didn’t and ask yourself why. Make mental notes of the shows you liked, the directors whose work you enjoyed and the theatre company who produced the show. If you're under the age of 30, or a student, you can access discounted tickets at our shows! See what's playing now

Tip #2 - Read. Read. Read.

Theatre plays, screenplays, Greek tragedy, classics, contemporary work, comedy and drama. Novels and short stories. The more you read, the better you understand what makes a good script and how dramaturgy works. It will help you find out what stories you want to tell, why you want to tell them, and how to do it.

"A stage space has two rules: (1) Anything can happen and (2) something must happen.” -- Peter Brook, Empty Space

Tip #3 - Experience arts & culture

Go to art galleries, museums, festivals, and browse artist albums. Visual art will teach you a lot about storytelling, composition, set, costume, and light. Expand your musical knowledge beyond your favourite music style. When you get out in the world and experience other art forms, you'll develop the language to effectively communicate your aesthetic with your designers. 

Tip #4 - Get some training

You don’t need to go through an acting program and an MFA in directing in order to succeed, but some professional training will give you the opportunity to learn fast and fail big and without consequences. This cannot be said of the professional world, where failures are still acceptable, but they bear an actual dollar sign. Professional training gives you the language to communicate with the actors and also the time to find your own directing style. Find a training program, whether it be a university program or a mentorship program. Audit acting classes if possible.

Tip #5 - Get in the room

Volunteering your time as an assistant director, especially for a director whose work you admire, will reward you with practical experience, free training, and connections in the industry. You will come to rely heavily on your network so make sure you are reliable, diligent, and get noticed. We at Exact Resemblance welcome emerging directors to audit our rehearsals for free. If you're interested, check out our Open Room Program submission form below:

Be brave and give it a try

Find some people who are as enthusiastic as you and put together a show. You don’t need fancy sets and costumes to do theatre. In fact, the more restrictions you have, the more your imagination and creativity is challenged. Just do it.

I'll see you at the table.


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