Successful stage directors: Journeys in talent development and creative process

Date of Completion

January 2002


Theater|Education, Educational Psychology




Talent development and creativity have been topics of interest to researchers, yet few studies have investigated the performing arts, and still fewer have examined talent development and creativity in the stage director. This mixed methods study examined the role of the stage director's journey to a place of distinction in the field, and his/her approach to the creative process in the performing arts. Research literature from the study of talent development, creativity, and theatre studies provided theoretical background for this investigation. ^ A questionnaire was completed by 71 stage directors who have achieved acclaim in recognized venues, gathering information related to demographics, family background, educational and early theatre experiences, personality traits, and perceived obstacles to advancement in the career. The respondents ranged in age from 27–72 with an average age of 51. Twice as many males responded as females. The respondents had achieved high levels of education and reported having received strong parental support and encouragement for their interest in theatre. Most began in acting, but found that they were better suited to directing early in their careers. ^ Seven directors were chosen through purposive sampling for in-depth interviews and observations of rehearsals and performances providing data for a multiple case study. Qualitative data analysis techniques were used to determine categories in creative process of performance and creative leadership encompassing five stages: personal traits, conditions nurturing development, solitary preparation, collaborative preparation, and transformation and transcendence achieved through the creative product. Achievement in the field of theatre requires continued perseverance despite obstacles such as financial pressure and family obligations. Implications are suggested for those working with talented student performers as well as those in mentorship, teaching, or leadership roles. ^