Personal Statment: Ucla Directing Mfa Admissions Essay

1556 words - 6 pages

Powerful theater combines intellectual ideas and artistry of language with the visual power of movement and physical strength. The theater I most appreciate involves the actors’ equal commitment to their bodies as to their voices. This theater makes art of the entirety of our evolution—biological, linguistic, and cultural—and represents the ultimate artistic elevation of the human spirit. This is the theater I strive to create. I believe the director is ultimately responsible for providing the distinct, guiding perspective of a production. A strong director brings the audience a cogent, well-reasoned interpretation of the play and ensures consistency among the actors and design elements to create a production that is clear and effective. To do this well, a director must explore the history of the play and the playwright's inspiration as well as look for corollaries to the play’s style and subject in other media, culture and intellectual ideas, and ultimately, compile this information into a coherent blueprint for realizing the world and presenting the themes of the play. It is precisely this studied, integrative aspect of directing that I am most attracted to, and, I believe, that makes me a strong director.
I began my collegiate theater studies, at Reed College, wanting to be an actor, and, in fact, adverse to the idea of directing. I had considered directors little more than acting coaches and blockers, but in my first year, I worked with a director, Stepan Simek, who significantly shifted my understanding of directing as an art form. The production was Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, which was staged on a pair of raked platforms that served as chalkboards. The set pieces in each scene were drawn on the platforms by an invented character who also sang original interpretations of Wedekind’s songs throughout the show. I had not realized the interpretive opportunities inherent in directing, and was eager to explore them more. By my Junior year, directing had almost exclusively become my academic focus, as I found that it excited me more and that I excelled in it more than either design or acting.
At Reed, I was fortunate to explore many techniques in both acting and directing, and to work on productions with three instructors, each with different directing approaches, as well as with many peers who were developing their own interests and personal styles. As a result of this variety, my own inclinations as a director reflect an appreciation for multiple performance styles and directorial approaches. My interests are rooted in American Realism, but with overt presentational elements that subvert the conventions of realistic staging. I believe a production can use song, music, and similar presentational moments not to distance the viewer from the play, as Brecht suggested, but to allow him to become more involved in the emotional center of the drama, by removing the expectation that everything on stage is a realistic portrayal of...

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