A Sense of Direction

Some Observations on the Art of Directing


196 Pages
6x9 Paper
Drama Publishers / QSM

A sense of Direction represents a life's work at the art and craft of directing. William Ball, founder and long-time general director of the acclaimed American Conservatory Theater, engages his audience in a wide-ranging discussion of the director's process—from first reading through opening night. Speaking as a director's director, Ball offers a candid, personal account of his method of working—including the choice of a play's essential elements, preproduction homework, casting, and rehearsal techniques. Throughout, his discoveries and insights guide the director in building the world of the play and bringing it to life—enlightening for the neophyte as well as the experienced professional.

Theater goers will find this an informative, insightful, and often astonishingly clear look at the people and process behind that wonderful and magical phenomenon we call theater.

About William Ball

William Ball (1931-1991) founded the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in 1965 and was its general director for many years. Beginning in the theater as a designer, he turned to acting and appeared with regional companies and Shakespeare festivals across the country. He made his New York directorial debut with an Off-Broadway production of Chekhov’s Ivanov which won the Obie and Vernon Rice Drama Desk Awards for 1958. He subsequently directed at Houston’s Alley Theatre; San Francisco’s Actor’s Workshop; Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage; San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre; and staged several New York City Opera productions. His 1959 Off-Broadway production of Under Milk Wood won both the Lola D’Annunzio and the Outer Circle Critics’ Awards, and in 1962 his Six Characters in Search of an Author proved another multiple award winner and had an extended New York run. After directing at Canada’s Stratford Festival, Ball returned to New York to write the libretto, with composer Lee Hoiby for an opera, Natalya Petrovna, based on A Month in the Country. In 1964 he directed Tartuffe and Homage to Shakespeare at Lincoln Center and then traveled to London to recreate his staging of Six Characters. A native of New Rochelle and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Ball has been the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a Ford Foundation directorial grant, and an NBC RCA director’s fellowship. Of his many productions for A.C.T., three were also directed for PBS television, including The Taming of the Shrew, for which he was nominated by the Television Critics’ Circle as best director of the year. In June 1979, he accepted the Antoinette Perry ("Tony”) Award voted to A.C.T. for its outstanding work in repertory performance and advanced theater training. In the same year, Carnegie Mellon University presented him with an honorary degree as Doctor of Fine Arts. He was active as a teacher and director in A.C.T.’s conservatory training program.

"This book is filled with insight on the nature of theater and sound advice on the more practical aspects of directing. It should be on every young director's reading list."

"Ball's observations, rooted in experience, wisdom, and common sense, leap from the page to an experienced director's heart, stomach, and mind."
Theatre Journal

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram