10 Ways to make the most out of Assistant Directing



I recently had the opportunity to Assistant Direct The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde at my College. This was my first time AD’ing in an academic setting and I was unsure what my role would be in the rehearsal room because how much responsibility a director gives their AD depends on each director’s process.

Talk to the Director Before Rehearsals Begin

  • Have a meeting about your job and what is expected of you before you start rehearsals

  • Be sure to mention anything that is of interest to you or special skills you possess such as dance, fight choreography, etc.

  • Be sure to mention what you are comfortable with at this point in your directing career. For example, are you comfortable working on a scene by yourself or leading a cast warmup

  • Let them know how excited you are to be able to be part of the team

Sit Near the Director

  • Sit near the director so that they can discuss the play with you

  • This allows for open communication and for you to really feel part of the process

Observe Everything

  • Keep a notebook for each show that you are involved with

  • I have one notebook and I use a different color for each show I am working on

  • This notebook is to write down everything you observe in the rehearsal room

  • Remember, you are in the room to learn. A lot of time for AD’s, this learning can only come from observing the director and their choices

Think of Other Ways It Can Be Done

  • I frequently use my notebook during blocking rehearsals to write down other ways the blocking could be done.

  • I usually did not share this with the director because it would have been inappropriate at the time I wrote it down. This kept my mind working about other possibilities of staging.

  • No one idea is the right one. There are so many different ways to stage one scene.

Have an Opinion

  • Be ready for when the director asks for your point of view

  • Always pay attention

  • Be sure to have an opinion about every single moment

Ask Questions and Speak Up

  • You are allowed to ask the director questions during the rehearsal process

  • Sometimes you can only really understand a choice if you ask the director to explain why they made that choice

  • Sometimes if asked, I would interpret to the director and say something along the lines of, “I really like the way you did xyz because... “

  • This also allows the director to know how their choices may come across to an audience and reinforces their decisions

Go to Production Meetings and Read Rehearsal Reports

  • Be part of the process and take advantage of going to production meetings to understand the full scope of the production by hearing from those doing lighting, sound, costumes, etc. One day, you will be the Head Director at these production meetings and it is important to understand how they are run

  • Additionally, it helps you realize how much goes into just one play and how all these pieces work together to create a whole

Figure Out Ways to be Helpful

  • For example, run lines with an actor, help make props, ask the director if there is anything they want you to look for in a run.

  • Be willing to volunteer to help with anything that would enhance the play.

  • See If There Are Any Side Projects (Dramaturgy, Articles, Etc.)

  • If the production does not have a Dramaturg yet, ask to do research. See if you can help with press. Write a paper about the experience for a class.

  • Figure out if any side projects are possible that will allow you to get the absolute most out of your ADing experience.

Be a Positive Light in the Room!

  • This goes for any role of a production- be positive and kind!

  • I wrote down funny quotes throughout the rehearsal process and shared them on opening night- just a way to make the cast smile!


Being an AD can be hard because you don’t always feel as if you have an active role in the production. However, your job is to learn. Be patient with yourself and know that you have every right to be in that room and remember to have some fun in the theatre-making process!

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BY DENISE SIMON | JANUARY 8, 2019 9:30 AM | LAST UPDATED: AUGUST 28, 2019 11:22 AM


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