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Notes on Directing

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  613 ratings  ·  62 reviews
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 McKell ...more
Hardcover, 126 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by RCR Creative Press (first published January 1st 2003)
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David Wagstaff
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Megan Miller
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: craft-books
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 rea
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: directing, theatre
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 perfor
Brendan Hodge
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Sleepless Dreamer
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Kacie Adams
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Robert Fenske
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Leda Frost
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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. ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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!
Molly Booth
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Isaac Werner
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Luke Reynolds
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.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Erik LeDrew
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Practical, helpful but so succinct that it leaves large gaps of information for the neophyte.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, bought, write-now
Hmm. Some useful bits but not quite the whole sandwich.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good jumping off point for any aspiring director.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book simply written and one I will refer to and pick up often to quote to my own casts as needed.
Mansi Srivastava
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
very nice
Peter Nordstrand
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light and easy read. Thoughtful comments on the art of directing. Well written and stylistically exceptional. Recommended.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who dares to direct actors of any age should be required to read and think through this book and it’s suggestions.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, theater
An important work for anyone who considers themselves a director. I've directed for years and still found much to underline. A quick, worthy read. ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school, non-english
Delivers what it promises: tips and strategies on directing for the stage. Nice, common-sensical, and altogether to-the-point. Skip the extras.
Dan Blackley
May 31, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a great book for beginning directors. It has a lot of info. However, I would recommend A Sense of Direction by William Ball. It is a better book.
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lot of nice, simple tips on directing
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was quite good. It's a slim little tome, an adaptation of the even more terse notes on directing shared by Frank Hauser with apprentice director Russell Reich. Reich fleshes the 130 suggestions out with just a few examples and extra text. The suggestions here are suggestive rather than exhaustive, that is, the advice is simply put but gets the reader thinking about how he or she would put the principles into practice.

In particular, there's plenty of good advice about blocking and about work
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second reading.
After directing four stage productions and one radio play it can be quite useful to review the work one does as a director. I decided to look back on my work and think about how I can improve as a director. Notes on directing provide easy tips on directing, being the opposite of a treatise on directing it provides practical hints as to how to improve as a director and handle actors.

The advice leans heavily toward the British style of theater: the script is at the center of it all
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I must say I greatly enjoyed the book. My interest is non-professional although keen because I find acting and directing really have a key to self-knowing, self-challenging and accepting the world with more senses that you are used to do. Besides you may have also noticed/felt that these people have the great potential to be leaders and influencers in the broadest sense of the word. At the end it is all about the big science of life – how to communicate with people to make them feel encouraged t ...more
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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 Bri

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