Director’s Journal: Steve Kniss Tackles ‘Anon(ymous)’

Steve Kniss, Weather Vane student newspaper

Directing. To me, it is fun. I have had such a great time through only a week and a half of rehearsal. Each night raises its unique challenges, but every it is also an adventure, and that is what I love about directing.

EMU Junior Steve Kniss directs actors junior Brent Anders and sophomore Brandon Habron
Junior Steve Kniss directs actors junior Brent Anders and sophomore Brandon Habron. (Photo: Erika Babikow)

However, I have been surprised to find that the biggest challenge comes from making a schedule for each week. There is so much to organize. Which scenes are more important to work on? Which characters do I need to further develop? Who can come which night? Scheduling is definitely not something that I had foreseen being such a challenge.

Anon has been such a great experience for me so far. I want to pursue directing after I graduate, probably more in the form of film than theatre. However, when I agreed to direct Anon, I knew I would be challenging myself, both time-wise and vocation-wise. If I really did not truly love directing, I knew that this experience would show me. So far, I still love it.

When I was talking with a couple friends Sunday night, I was saying the reason I love directing and theatre is because it allows me to create a world that is entirely my own.

I am not saying I do not love the real world, because I do, but the movies that inspired me to want to pursue film making were the Lord of the Rings franchise, directed by Peter Jackson. I suppose I will just come right out and say that I have seen each of the movies at least fifteen times, both extended and theatrical versions, with actor and director commentaries, and no, that is not an overstatement. I was absolutely enthralled by these films. They showed me that there were no boundaries when creating movies. Any world is possible to make. Any character is possible to create. Any movie is possible to direct.

Another thing that I have been discovering is the difference between film directing and theatre directing. Film directing requires slightly more organization with a larger crew, more equipment, and usually, a greater number of actors.

However, theatre requires more precision. During a play, each performance is live. Therefore, each night, the actor has one chance to deliver each of his or her lines, and if it is delivered poorly, there is nothing that the actor can do to change that. In film, a director can take as many shots of a scene as he or she wants. Eventually, they will pick the best shot and that is what the global audience will see. Have you ever thought of what a movie would look like if a director only took one take of each scene? Maybe not, but that is the type of thing that sometimes occurs to me. It tends to blow the mind.

As I continue to direct, I look forward to the challenges and questions that will be raised each night. How do I get this character from here to there? How do I incorporate this part of the set? How should the audience be seated? Where do I put my musicians? Who is going to run the sound and light boards? How do I motivate the actor at this point? These are questions that I have to ask myself on a nightly basis, and I cannot wait to see if I have answered them correctly come opening night.

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