Credit Due To Directors (& Actors) Of New Plays
I recently have finished two journeys of development: One a commission from new-writing Hull based collective Middle Child and the other a play I'd already finished a draft of that moved into production at the Hampstead Theatre in London. Both have been amazing dramaturgically and both have made me think.
I'm not a director but looking at the genius of Paul Smith, at Middle Child, and Anna Ledwich, the director I'm working with at Hampstead I'm not convinced that the efforts they put in to the dramaturgy of these plays are reflected properly.
Usually when I've been developing a play I will, on average, send through about 8 to 10 drafts to a director before we go into rehearsal. Maybe more. The directors job (if they are good at it) is to ask questions that provoke me to find solutions, explore avenues, or to move toward great dramatic, theatrical, or ideologic clarity. That is my understanding of what "dramaturgy" is. I also appreciate that is a lot of work for a director to be doing in terms of preparation for a piece. Sometimes, also, this might not even be a play that is guranteed a production. The reprecussions of this are, of course, that some directors may be having to do this work on top of other commitments due to the fee for directing not being enough or, in the case of plays not guranteed production, having no fee at all.
I think it's generally understood that the work of a new-writing director is going to involve dramaturgy. If Dramaturgy is the art of asking questions to provoke a writer to finding solutions to obstacles of clarity then a Dramaturg is not en-titled to intellectual rites as it is the writer generating all the material. So the solution is not sharing rites.
However, I feel, that a director of new-writing should be entitled to an extra fee for development and preperation. There should be a seperate fee for reading and noting scripts up to to rehearsal. I'm not a producer; I don't know how this works. I've just noticed that Directors are awesome and do a lot of work and are not rewarded for doing it. I have no understanding of budgets. I have no understanding of producing. I'm just writing this as a Playwright looking at Directors and thinking they get a hard deal. They should also, as should actors, get paid a seperate fee doing RnD.. (They actually may do already - I don't know).
So listen... Basically what I'm saying is. Directors should get a bit more money for developing a New Play. Not intellectual rites. Just a bit more of a fee for doing a really big job that they don't get enough credit for.