From October 2022 through March 2023, The Drama League’s International Directors Summit brought together eight of the world’s most exciting stage directors, and four international arts leaders, for a series of conversations about the changing nature of their work. Summit participants from the nations of Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States gathered together share their experiences at home and abroad, investigating how the discipline of direction is challenged by the overlapping global forces of climate change, economic uncertainty, health/pandemics, and authoritarianism. The transcripts of the International Directors Summit conversations, offered below, boldly articulate the central issues impacting the work of directors globally, especially the rapid changes to rehearsal, casting, and production practices. Together, they form a set of reports from the front lines, in a way, as well as a path to the future for the global creative community.
COVID-19 affected every aspect of life, including prohibitions on gathering in space…an essential component of rehearsal and performance. In this conversation, the Directors explored how health concerns have fundamentally altered our work. In anticipation of future health crises, how do directors maintain a globalist perspective? How do cultures learn from each other, even when the world shuts down?
Can art thrive in difficult economic times? As financial conditions continue to tighten in most parts of the world, the Directors looked past their own borders for ideas and opportunities that might counter the economic challenges facing our audiences, our artists, and our institutions. Funding models, resource sharing, and global distribution are discussed, as are the very notions of stability and sustainability for the theater.
According to Freedom House, less than 20% of the world’s population live in free societies. What can directors do — in their storytelling, in their choice of material, in their communications to audiences — to illuminate the deeper ramifications of our global politic, and offer alternatives that celebrate equality? Can globalist thinking in the arts counter human challenges? How do we protect risk when artists across the world are facing political pressure, imprisonment, and even personal harm?
2022/23 Summit Coordinators
Gabriel Stelian-Shanks – Artistic Director, The Drama League and Coordinator, United States | Kalina Wagenstein – Coordinator, Bulgaria | Giorgi Toradze – Coordinator, Georgia | Gwynn MacDonald – Summit Facilitator/Board of Directors, The Drama League | Nilan – Associate Artistic Director, The Drama League | Andrew Coopman – Artistic Coordinator, The Drama League | Lake Sims-Winfrey – Artistic Intern, The Drama League
The International Directors Summit is sponsored, in part, through the support of