Hart House is about to open its final show of the season, the farce Boeing Boeing written by Marc Camoletti and translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans. Director and TDS grad Cory Doran sits down with The Medium to talk about the upcoming production.
The Medium: What do you like about Boeing Boeing as a play?
Cory Doran: It is hilarious. It is absolutely hilarious. With a farce, you get to throw a lot of the conventions away and just jump right on in and see how far you can go. Technically it’s a really difficult show to put up as well, because it’s really easy to play into stereotypes. When you play into stereotypes, you don’t have really grounded characters, and I think that we have avoided that pitfall. The trick with a farce is that it starts in a grounded reality. So it’s a real world, real people, and then the definition of a farce is that there is a series of extraordinary events. Things spiral into chaos. I equate chaos to absurd. The concept of absurdism tends to relate to actors a little bit more.
TM: Is there anything in this play that has challenged or frustrated you?
CD: Frustrated? No. Challenged? Yeah. It’s challenging to block a show where there are that many entrances and exits and the rapidity at which it happens. You want it to look absolutely natural. It’s a bit like taking a giant puzzle and then reassembling parts of it on another table.
TM: What’s the most important skill a director can have?
CD: Having a strong artistic vision for the show. But I also think you have to be supportive of your actors. The actor is the one who has to be up onstage. And you have to be able to support them to the point where they are confident and can go, “Yep, I understand this character, I understand the play, I understand why I am doing everything,” so that when they go up there it is real to them and they can just be in the moment and not think about why they have to be there.
TM: Do you think that directors are born or made?
CD: There aren’t too many schools for directing. There are a million and one acting schools out there, and there are wonderful design schools, but there are so few actual mentorship positions when it comes to directing. And when it comes to the professional companies that are out there, for most of them you have to have one heck of an incredible resume to get in, so it’s a catch-22. The person who’s going to go apprentice for you is the person who already has two Dora nominations. It’s really hard to get directors to talk to each other as well, about technique. Because everyone has their own style and also all are inherently insecure in that it’s the wrong style entirely because you have no comparative.
TM: What about actors? Born or made?
CD: Born. You can’t make someone thrust themselves into the centre of the limelight and expose themselves to such barbs and criticism unless they were just born that way. Often people will say, “Oh, I just fell into acting.” That’s like saying that you found an opportunity to let loose and thought, “I really like that.”
Directors don’t get the same glory. If it’s a good show, the actors were fabulous. If it was a bad show, the director sucked. Unless it’s some incredibly inventive and new style, it’s often that the director gets forgotten as part of the set. It’s impossible to distinguish the director’s touch from the overall show.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.