I was motivated to audition for Tartuffe while watching a rehearsal for the previous SHAPE production (Bye Bye Birdie). I had arrived at the theater a bit early to pick Kyra up and so I took a seat and watched the director work with a couple of actors on stage. He had a clear vision of what he wanted, he communicated it in a straight forward manner, if they didn't understand he demonstrated it and what he was asking made the moment better. I thought to myself - I'd love to work with him.
As much as I love working with this director (I'm willing to sing solo in public for him) not everyone feels that way. Kyle shared with me a bit of conversation that he had with a co-worker whose son was in Bye Bye Birdie. This son (a teenager) has done theater in a number of places and really likes it but does not plan to do another production here at SHAPE. Why? The director - not because he is not excellent at what he does or because the productions lack in quality but because of the way the director treats the actors.
The actors are not mistreated nor abused. We are held to a high standard and pushed to get there. The director does not coddle us. He says what he wants, he says it plainly. He does not waste time cajoling us and praising us. When he gets angry it is because someone is wasting everyone else's time - punctuality, learning lines and remembering blocking are all musts. Failure to support the work of fellow cast members is not tolerated.
Maybe this style of direction isn't for everyone, but I know that I appreciate it and find that my skill improves when I get clear direction. Kind words are nice but they don't help me grow, they simply make me settle for where I am. Without a doubt my performance has improved from when we started rehearsing to what people see on stage. That improvement didn't happen because I was coddled and praised, it happened because I was challenged and pushed. I am grateful for it.