On the “Fascism” of Stage Directions

Fist-shaking dictator or helpful tour guide? The meaty bone of contention that is the mighty stage direction is surely one of the most-debated elements of our work. Actors loathe them, playwrights adore them, directors sorta kinda appreciate them. How do you feel about direction from the page?

In a typically erudite essay, the UK Guardian’s Chris Wilkinson discusses the potential value of the author’s indication of intent, and offers some insightful perspective as a sort of ‘instructions for use’.

Read on over at Chris’ blog, there’s some great examples of seemingly unactable stage directions, including some of the ways Sarah Kane manages to brilliantly infuriate people…


  1. They can be helpful for showing intent, sure. But they’re more like accompanying “guidelines” or suggested directions from the playwright, as a thought as to how they would have imagined the scene. When, however, directing a scene it’s free to interpretation as the directions aren’t seen by the audience. I think it’s fair enough to disregard them completely. I wouldn’t be offended as a playwright, as long as my lines weren’t adapted.

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