Archive for the A Note to Directors Category

Better Look Busy

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on January 27, 2020 by RobALott

Want to look busy during strike without any actual responsibility?

Just go to center stage and stare up into the fly space. Every once in a while make a gesture like something needs to be moved up there.

The actual work will get done and you won’t have to do any of it.

(Just a heads up, though. You might fool the others who are looking to get out of the work and responsibility, but you won’t fool those who are doing the actual work or are taking the responsibility. That might have some long term consequences.)

As A Theatrical Director…

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on December 16, 2019 by RobALott

As a theatrical director, I give verbal notes to cast, crew, and design teams at the beginning and end of each day’s rehearsal. These contain observations for adjustments to improve performances, as well as technical, and design elements. My comments are critical, which means they are a product of my analysis toward accomplishing a better result. I make an evaluation as to quality and effectiveness.

Giving notes must not mean that I am judgmental in a mean-spirited or arrogant way. To have value, my critiques must be constructive, informative, understandable, and above all doable. Otherwise they are just a scold. My observations must “serve the work” and make our production stronger, richer, smarter, and more engaging. A director’s notes are worthless, hollow words if they don’t move us all toward greater artistic achievement. This would be true for anyone in a supervisory position in any organization.

Hatch! by C. McNair Wilson

If Relevance Is The Aim…

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on October 7, 2019 by RobALott

….then we must have the courage to ask and recognize where we’re out of touch.

We absolutely must have the courage to ask where our blind spots are, and the wisdom, then, to ask for help.

What To Do With Mistakes

Posted in A Note to Directors, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on September 30, 2019 by RobALott

I received an email a couple days ago from a notable organization letting me know of a service that was soon going to be available.

A few minutes later I received another email from the same organization saying they had made a mistake, the service was not yet available, and they apologized for the extra email and inconvenience.

Did I immediately distrust the organization?

No. On the contrary. I immediately trusted the organization more for quickly recognizing their mistake, owning it, and apologizing.

They didn’t try to cover it up with a “What we meant was…” email.

They didn’t wait to see if anyone would notice.

They didn’t try to spin it with a “No, you must have read it wrong. The misunderstanding is on your end…” email.

They recognized it, owned it, apologized for it, and now I trust them more because of it.


Avoid mistakes, absolutely.

But mistakes are going to happen. And like all matters of value, decide ahead of time how you’ll respond when a mistake is made.

For the First Timers

Posted in A Note to Directors, Creativity, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff on July 29, 2019 by RobALott

Do the show for the First Timers in the audience.

First Timers become Returners.

Returners are trying to get that feeling back that they had when they were First Timers.

Sorry, I Have to Give You This Note

Posted in A Note to Directors, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on May 27, 2019 by RobALott

“Sorry, I have to give you this note.”

No you don’t.

Is the note helpful?

Is the note coming, not from a place of position or power but rather from a place of partnership? Then give the note.

Otherwise, no. Think twice. You do not have to give the note.

(Rule of thumb: A good note rarely starts with an apology.)

The Audience Plays Their Part

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Rob Recommends on April 22, 2019 by RobALott

In his book, Born Standing Up, Steve Martin talks about his learned ability to listen to an audience and adjust his timing. He could hear the intake of air just before a sneeze or a cough. He’d see someone shift in their chair just before noisily pushing it out from their table. He’d hear and see these things, and he’d wait to say the punch line, or he’d get the punch line in just before the audience interruption. He learned to ride the wave of laughter and applause, listening to it, responding to it, waiting for it, and just after its peak, continuing on to maintain flow and energy.

The audience is playing their part in our performance. And just like an unnecessary character has no place on the stage, the audience can tell if we don’t need them to do our show. They can tell pretty quickly if we are just covering the material or getting through the show. And they, rightly so, will check out and stop playing their part altogether.

The same way we give fellow actors the time and space they need to play their part, and the same way we would never steamroll a fellow actor onstage, we should never steamroll an audience’s laugher and applause, and we must allow them the time and space to be who they are — a live audience.