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Notes on Directing

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In 1987, British Director Frank Hauser quietly handed twelve pages of typewritten notes to his apprentice, American Russell Reich. The notes gathered over a long career and polished to a sharp edge documented the teachings and directions that Hauser shared privately with a host of theatrical and cinematic figures, including Sir Alec Guinness, Richard Burton, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Kevin Spacey, and many others who called Hauser their director, mentor, teacher, or boss.

Now, the former student has expanded and enhanced his mentor's private notes into a book-length format suitable for anyone searching for the timeless gems of the director s craft. Drawing on years of training, decades of experience, and the distilled wisdom of leading practitioners, Notes on Directing is filled with enduring good advice expressed in assertive, no-nonsense language. More than a how-to, this is a tool for directors looking to better translate the page to the stage or to the screen. With one hundred and thirty directives supported with explanatory commentary, helpful examples, and rare quotes, this deceptively slim volume has the impact of a privileged apprenticeship to a great master.

Whether you are a student or a professional, a playgoer, moviegoer, or enthusiast, Notes on Directing provides a thrilling glimpse into the hidden process of creating a live, shared experience.

126 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Frank Hauser

8 books5 followers
FRANK HAUSER is a retired freelance director living in London. Born
in Wales in 1922, he attended Oxford University during the 1940s; worked as a
drama producer for the BBC; and, in 1956, formed the Meadow Players at Oxford.
He was Director of the Oxford Playhouse for seventeen years and directed
frequently in London and New York. In 1968, he received the award of Commander
of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.).

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5 stars
330 (43%)
4 stars
275 (35%)
3 stars
132 (17%)
2 stars
27 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for Ali  Mousavi.
94 reviews23 followers
October 21, 2019
اتفاقی توی کتابفروشی این رو دیدم. حجم کم و دیدن اسم آقای احیا به عنوان مترجم باعث شد بخرمش، برای من که فقط تماشاگر نمایش‌ها بودم و دوست داشتم از دید یک کارگردان به آثار و پروسه تولید نگاه کنم اطلاعات جالبی داشت.
Profile Image for صان.
396 reviews230 followers
June 21, 2019
نکات خوبی داشت، و از همه بهتر به شکل خیلی خوبی سرجمع و مرتب شده بودن. نمی‌شه گفت چیزهای عجیب‌غریبی داشت -اصلا می‌شه همچین انتظاری از یک کتاب داشت؟!- اما چیزهای خوبی داشت و خوندنش هم سریع و بدون حرف‌های طولانی و اضافه بود و هر کسی که کارگردانی می‌کنه می‌تونه سریع بخونش و چیزهایی یاد بگیره.

من خودم چیزهایی برام پررنگ شد و یاد گرفتم.
Profile Image for David Wagstaff.
12 reviews4 followers
April 7, 2011
Directing is far trickier than being president of the United States. Diplomacy and nuance are required in copious amounts. The temptation to talk too much is taller than the Tower of Babel. The responsibility is absolute. There are few books of any help. David Mamet's On Directing Film and Three Uses of the Knife are essential for the simple reason that they deal with practical considerations clearly stated. Notes on Directing is the same. In fact, it is a sort of Strunk and White of how to do this job without making huge blunders. Now there are thousands of books on theater that demonstrate nothing more than the clever minds of their authors. Directors should avoid them just as auto mechanics should avoid books on astrophysics for any reason other than curiosity -it won't help you when you open the hood. And when the director opens the hood, all of humanity is humming away there waiting for his tune up, overhaul, and best effort. Hauser and his protege stick to the basics: how to prepare, how to communicate with actors, and how to execute in rehearsal without screwing it up. If you direct or ever wish to direct, read this book. If you are an actor it might not be a good idea, for you shall know how the job should be done and thereby open yourself up to numerous disappointments when faced with the butchery directors may administer at will.
Profile Image for Eva B..
1,155 reviews314 followers
May 16, 2022
Very informative! I'll buy a copy if I ever direct a show. Unfortunately, this was all for plays as opposed to musicals, something I was not aware of going into it. I've love to read a similar book that adds in some tips for musical-related elements.
Also, this is the book that includes the "Shakespeare rehearsals where 'fuck' is added" tip and it's worth the read just for that. All the world's a fucking stage.
Profile Image for Arsalan Shahbaz.
12 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2021
کتاب همان تصور ابتدایی است که از یک کتاب ۱۰۴ صفحه ای و نکته وار در مورد کارگردانی تئاتر می توان داشت، نه بیش از آن و نه کمتر.
اگر آگاهی مختصری از مبحث کارگردانی در تئاتر داشته باشید این کتاب شاید چیز خاصی به شما اضافه نکند اما تاکید بر روی برخی دانسته ها یا از زاویه ای دیگر دیدنشان بدون شک مفید خواهد بود.
Profile Image for Megan Miller.
315 reviews
September 21, 2018
Oh my goodness, y'all. SUPER GOOD. Concise advice, tips, thoughts. Also, a really long list of further reading recommendations at the end, that I'm really excited about.
One section that talks about using the f-word as a rehearsal technique for understanding meaning/emphasis. I wouldn't use that technique, obviously, but like if you're not against foul language I'm sure it helps. But anyway, fair warning on the language.
Seriously, though. This is really good. Will be keeping it handy. If you read it, keep a pencil or highlighter on you, you'll want to make notes.
Profile Image for Xanna.
61 reviews1 follower
January 18, 2021
4.5 stars!

A really lovely little book full of guidelines. The notes are very short but very to the point. It's more of a book to have in your library and look inside every now and then than it is an extensive guide on how to go about directing, but defenitely worth reading.

For people who already know a lot about this some of it may be a little obvious, but in my experience it's precisely the obvious, little things that you can never be reminded of too often.
Profile Image for Richard008.
45 reviews1 follower
December 6, 2022
طبیعی است که از کتاب ۱۰۴صفحه‌ای نمی‌توان انتظار معجزه یا گشودن دریچه‌ای شگرف به دنیای نمایش برای کارگردان یا بازیگر، داشت
اما می‌توان از آن آموخت و نکاتی که در پس ذهن‌ها مانده را به جلو آورده و با برجسته‌نمایی نکاتی جدید از آن درآورد.
گزیده‌گویی‌های نویسندگان اثر کمک می‌کند تا با زوایای مختلف کارگردانی با متن و اجرا روبه‌رو شویم
Profile Image for John Geddie.
284 reviews11 followers
May 20, 2022
There’s some really interesting pieces of wisdom in there and the note format makes it convenient to return to.
Profile Image for Bo Bilic.
34 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2022
like all good direction should be: concise, honest and easily incorporated. so so good
Profile Image for Brendy Bren.
2 reviews
January 21, 2023
A wonderful book for aspiring directors filled with extremely useful advice on the process of directing a creative project. It allows for reflection and it's definitely a book I shall consult very often.
17 reviews
February 12, 2021
An incredible reference book. I'm a long-time community theater actor: this is a great resource to understand why your director is making certain choices, and a perfect way to delineate why some directors can really make you feel amazing, and why some directors drive you crazy (I wish I could hammer #41 - Don't keep actors hanging about needlessly - to the door of every performance space like a modern Martin Luther). And as someone who'd like to dip my toe into directing in the future, this text lays out the entire process from start to finish, with references for further reading helpfully explained at the end.

It should be noted that this is specifically written with more professional productions in mind, so the scale of some of these instructions aren't applicable to everyone (you know, those of us with shoestring budgets and an all-volunteer production team), but the spirit of them is broad enough that you can tailor all of the advice without losing anything.
12 reviews4 followers
April 15, 2018
Fantastic book full of insights and wisdom on directing from director Russell Reich and his mentor, British director Frank Hauser. This is a book I will return to again and again! I especially appreciate their practical tips in the chapter "Elements of Staging."

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Every scene is a chase scene. Character A wants something from Character B who doesn't want to give it" (33).

"Unless characters are seen to be satisfying some need by what they do and say, the performance will be correct but bloodless" (71).

"Just tell the story...as believably, as excitingly as possible. Whatever does not tell the story should be subject to a very fishy examination" (9).

"Every object tells. In a properly created stage-world, nothing is extra and nothing is missing" (60).
Profile Image for Brendan Hodge.
Author 1 book29 followers
January 25, 2016
Written in a hundred and thirty short numbered lessons (ranging from a sentence or two to a page in length) and organized chronologically from the directors first encounter with the play to final production, this book is a set of in lessons on stage play directing, but it is also so much more.

Reading it did indeed provide retroactive insights into my directing experiences in college, but much of the advice on getting at the core of what the story is about, understanding conflict, and breaking a scene down into its most important parts will be useful for writers and readers as well. It's also just plain insightful about life and leadership.

A short and highly worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Sleepless Dreamer.
847 reviews211 followers
November 12, 2016
In a way this book made me sad, as I know I'm not going to be able to direct theater for at least the next two years. Other than that, this book is truly amazing, short and to the point, and I really recommend it.

what I'm taking with me
• Giving criticism as a compliment is genius.
• Directing is a wonderful thing.
• Helping your actors, together creating the play, being present together, understanding the fundamentals and returning to them.
Profile Image for Amanda Rafuse.
254 reviews4 followers
February 7, 2023
Just a great book to turn to when about to embark on a process. Like sitting with a director you admire and getting some key advice and reminders -- and some new ways of thinking and tackling problems. For those of us who come to direction from the acting path, it can feel a bit discombobulating -- there is not a lot of mentorship and direct guidance out there, so sometimes a book like this can just be... reassuring that I am not going to break the process. Frankly, I should just tattoo reminders *21 and 24 on my arm for life, let alone theater creation processes.

*don't expect to have every answer and LIGHTEN UP!
Profile Image for Robert Fenske.
109 reviews46 followers
July 10, 2018
I'd probably rate this a 4.5/5 for aspiring directors (film or stage) who have little to no experience. It's probably best used as a checklist or little mental refresher before the start of a new production. I wish I had this when making my college capstone (also my directorial debut).

Despite several "duh" moments for me I want to stress that the advice isn't bad. It's just that after years of working on many projects most of this advice will become second nature to you.
Profile Image for Leda Frost.
335 reviews3 followers
January 20, 2020
I'm neither a director nor an actor (nor ever plan to be one) but a writer, and I found this small book incredibly illuminating. I'd recommend this book to authors as an exercise, to put themselves in the place of a director and their characters in the place of actors. It gives engaging insight into aspects such as meaning, drive, the unseen, staging a scene, and solutions to common problems.
Profile Image for Jenna.
34 reviews6 followers
May 22, 2020
Refreshing to read a director that knows what they’re talking about.

The book is simple, accessible, and easy to follow. A lot of the lessons go hand in hand with what I am personally learning about acting as well, so it’s a good read even if you’re not looking to direct and to just understand theatre a little more.
Profile Image for Amy.
7 reviews
June 16, 2020
Wonderful, humorous anecdotes, clear and simple ideas and suggestions for working with actors, handling the emotions and intellects of those you work with, and helpful leadership ideas in general. Not just a great book for theatre directors but a great one for anyone interested in working well with others in many spheres of life!
Profile Image for Molly Booth.
Author 5 books132 followers
January 31, 2019
I don't think I've ever read a more helpful book on the actual practice of directing -- what to say, how to say it, with vision and kindness. Loved it, keeping it by my side for every production from now on.
2 reviews
October 31, 2019
Frank Hauser's Notes on Directing was inspiring and charming from beginning to end.
There was never a note that felt forgettable or unimportant. Everything stuck with me. While this is a novel based on figures who haven't been involved in very recent media, their advice felt timeless.
Profile Image for Luke Reynolds.
643 reviews
March 3, 2020
This book made me realize that I prefer short notes versus long exposition when it comes to directing craft, and there were quite a few notes in here that will prove helpful to my Directing II one-act final later this month and for rehearsals these next few weeks.
Profile Image for Josh.
15 reviews
October 13, 2020
Everything you need and nothing you don't. I use a lot of these tips not just as a director but in daily life whenever I have to facilitate communication in any sort of group environment, and once you read this, you likely will too.
Profile Image for Erik LeDrew.
16 reviews
January 14, 2021
A terrific, punch-y treatise on directing actors. Demystifies the director-thespian relationship in similar fashion to how Mamet’s On Directing Film demystifies visual storytelling—which, for me, is saying a lot. Wish I’d read it years ago but will surely be re-reading it for years to comes.
Profile Image for Nolan.
1 review
July 6, 2021
great for any directing student, or anyone looking for a job in theatre! focuses highly on communication and simplicity in the craft; both things that mean a lot to me. also super easy to pick up and read.
Profile Image for Ashley Campbell.
153 reviews14 followers
August 31, 2021
I used this book to describe to my roommates why the ending of game of thrones was so unfulfilling. Also - anytime I direct theatre I like to give this a look over before rehearsal. Good tips most of them.
Profile Image for Pranay Kumar.
11 reviews
December 4, 2022
Great book for an amateur play director, but not so for a film one; maybe that’s why the extreme focus is on the actor-director relationship here. Nonetheless it has some great life lessons, but altogether I found it to be a little boring.
Profile Image for MOBINAmimnun.
10 reviews
March 19, 2023
کتاب بدی نبود. درصد زیادی از کتاب همون مطالب تکراری همیشگی بود، ولی نمیتونم بگم کتاب مفیدی نبود. چند نکته از کتاب رو قبلا نه شنیده بودم و نه بهشون فکر کرده بودم.
لینک کتاب در طاقچه:
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