The term Director is found in two meanings in South Africa, applied to stage or film.
As creative artist
Used in conncetion with stage, film, radio and TV, the term refers to what is today viewed as the primary visionary in the creation of a performance, film or recording, the individual making decisions on the artistic concept and interpretation of the text and guiding its staging or completion. (Referred to in Afrikaans as the regisseur, as on the European continent. The work of the individual is referred to as regie.)
A theatre director or stage director is a practitioner in the theatre field who oversees and orchestrates the mounting of a theatre production (a play, an opera, a musical, or a devised piece of work) by unifying various endeavours and aspects of production. The director's function is to ensure the quality and completeness of theatre production and to lead the members of the creative team into realising their artistic vision for it. The director therefore collaborates with a team of creative individuals and other staff, coordinating research, stagecraft, costume design, props, lighting design, acting, set design, stage combat, and sound design for the production. If the production he or she is mounting is a new piece of writing or a (new) translation of a play, the director may also work with the playwright or translator.
In contemporary theatre, the director is generally a key creative figure, making decisions on the artistic concept and interpretation of the text and its staging, even though the playwright's text more often than not still tends to be viewed as the prime creative contribution to a production. (The exception being improvisational or collaborative work produced by ensembles of course, where the text emerges under the guidance of the director or facilitator.)
Different directors occupy different places of authority and responsibility, depending on the structure and philosophy of individual theatre companies. Directors utilize a wide variety of techniques, philosophies, and levels of collaboration.
In South Africa usage tends to follow the American rather than the British convention, where the director is the person responsible for the general interpretation of the play, for the conduct of the rehearsals, guiding and advising performers. (Referred to in Afrikaans – as on the European continent – as the regisseur.) The word producer is reserved, as in the movies, for the organisational person behind a production.
Return to Main Page
In 19th century productions, or early 20th century adverts or reviews in South Africa, one finds the older practice of the actor-manager, or the stage manager as the guiding hand. (verhoogbestuurder in Afrikaans)
In some parts of the world, notably in the case of large-scale popular entertainment, the term producer is sometimes also found in much the same meaning, though in South Africa it has a different meaning, referring to the individual who supplies the financial and administrative structure for a production.
In film it is very much the same as on stage, though the notion of the director as auteur is much stronger in film, the writer often relegated to a secondary role, unlike the practice in theatre, where the playwright still more often than not tends to be the prime creative figure. (The exception being improvisational or collaborative work produced by ensembles of course.)
As manager of a venue or department of a theatrical enterprise
This secondary meaning, related to the use of Director in business and other management fields, is found on occasion. In such cases the Afrikaans term would be "direkteur".
Go to ESAT Bibliography
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page