Author: Russ Hope
Publisher: Nick Hern Books
Reviewer: John Roberts
Russ Hope has been given unprecedented access to some of the UK’s biggest and most influential directors. The book is described as “A fly-on-the-wall guide for emerging theatre directors” which may perhaps be a little misguiding, for Getting Directions is more an insight into the rehearsal process of the selected practitioners which include Matthew Dunster, Nikolai Foster, Natalie Abrahami, Steve Marmion, Carrie Cracknell, Joe Hill-Gibbins and more.
For the budding director, or indeed the working professional director one thing you learn very quickly is there is no right or wrong way to direct, every practitioner has a different way of working from the next, and that will also change depending on the creatives/cast/company the director is working for at any particular time and this is no more evident than in Hope’s informative and enlightening book.
Each chapter focuses on a particular director working on a particular production; Nikolai Foster on English Touring Theatre’s production of Great Expectations radically realised in colonial India or Matthew Dunster directing his firs Shakespearian production for The Globe theatre. Getting Directions gets to the very core of each director quickly and easily, filled with fascinating and thought provoking questions there is plenty for the reader to digest and wrestle with and as Matthew Dunster says in the book “Directing is about detail, and detail is about craft.” There is plenty of craft and detail in Hope’s book.
Whilst Hope writes with fluidity which makes accessing the content of the book easy, one would argue that the styles of theatre explored and the directors approached to make the book could have been much more varied, bringing a wider range of experiences to draw upon…maybe this could mean a second book?
Getting Direction’s is a book, that should be vital reading for anyone working or wanting to work as a director, I defy anyone to read it and not challenge or question their own practices in the rehearsal room. Hope has certainly struck the right balance between informative and entertaining and for that Getting Directions becomes highly recommended.