Considering directors and directing in South Africa

Journal Article


Journal Title

South African Theatre Journal

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Taylor & Francis


University of Cape Town

This article attempts to address why this focus issue was pursued by the South African Theatre Journal and will begin to investigate what studying directing in our local context has to offer us. Considering the contributions to this issue, two key themes have been identified and are developed below. The first is couched within modernist and popular conceptions of the director: that person most able to seize the moment, find the truth of a play and fuse play script - and probably playwright's vision - cast and staging to make a coherent theatrical production which resonates with its audience. The emphasis in this conception is on the director's capacities not only as a key textual interpreter but also as a canny manager: that person who can find the resources, financial and infrastructural support, and also artistic or public following to realise a vision. The second theme locates the director in a post-World War II, globalised and post-modern consciousness in which incontrovertible truths seem much harder to identify, nationalist agendas are often controversial, moralities easily contested and local issues reactive or responsive to global trends. In this context, the director's collaborations within artistic communities, openness to many possible interpretations, and engagement with differences of language, culture, or creed are almost inevitable. In an international, capitalist-driven economy, the director has little assured status, but must rather negotiate spaces and places where theatre will both attract an audience and allow the audience its own space within the theatrical event.