In The Mind of a Theatre Director: Interview with Diane Brown
Have you ever wondered about the passion needed to be a Theatre Director? The type of person it takes to bring a play to life in front of an audience? Diane Brown, Artistic Director of the Ruby Slipper’s Theatre on Granville Island in Vancouver is exactly that type of person. She kindly answers a few of our questions to gives us a peek into what motivates her to do what she loves.
- You have extensive experience within the theatre world, as an actress and as a director. What drew you to theatre, as opposed to film?
Theatre involves people gathering in the room at the same time to share a live experience. It’s ritual, it’s communion, it builds community by encouraging independent critical thought and conversation afterward. You have to sit up and pay attention, in the theatre; you’re part of the show.
For me, I want a theatrical experience that cannot be satisfied by gimmicks and gadgets or car chases. I want a spectacle of minimalism, acting that is poetic and personal, intimate and expansive. And I want to encourage the kind of humanity on the stage that demands attention and that expresses who we are and that suggests that life is bigger. Doing theatre is one of my ways of taking action that gives rise to hope.
2. You were amazing as the titular character in The Duchess a.k.a. Wallis Simpson. Do you enjoy acting as much as directing?
I do love acting; it’s my first love. I love both acting and directing, and they use different parts of your brain so it’s a good workout.
3. What is the role of a theatre director? What are your key responsibilities?
My little company (Ruby Slippers Theatre) and I try to empower and engage the audience in a dialogue, rather than try to coerce them. So, when it comes to making the hundreds of specific decisions about the production that directors make along the way, my decisions are guided by this: further the question that the play is asking. Good theatre in my humble opinion, poses the big important questions in life, and asks the audience to grapple with and consider them together. In addition, a theatre director needs to lead and inspire and guide a creative process for each actor, each designer, everyone working on the project.
Good theatre in my humble opinion, poses the big important questions in life, and asks the audience to grapple with and consider them together
4. What are the major challenges you face as a theatre director?
As an artistic director, it’s raising money. As a theatre director, it’s forgetting you’re an artistic director.
5. And… what are the rewards?
I do theatre in an attempt to celebrate and inspire courage, heart and brains (as the saying goes) in diverse audiences, young and old, and in myself. To inspire meaningful critical dialogue, compassion for each other and joy, all of which strengthens people’s sense of being connected to each other, and that real change is possible; real change in ourselves, real change in our world. When the show works, I feel like I’m adding my two bits of hope and inspiration to the community, and there’s nothing more rewarding than that. A girl came up to me after a show once and said “I didn’t know theatre could be like that. You changed my life”. It was so cool.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________For more information on Diane Brown and Ruby Slippers Theatre, click here: