From long years in the theatre, I have deciphered the qualities a good director must display:
- A good “reader” of the “recipe” of the script: dialogic speech acts and exchanges; clues to mood and theme, subtle and unsubtle indications of the “Scribean” structure of the play’s development—exposition, rising action, climax, etc.;
- A “reader” and “speaker” of the “stage language”—blocking, costume, lighting, etc.;
- A good manager of time—rehearsal, set construction timetables, publicity, etc.;
- A “leader” of people—cast, crew, etc.—someone who can empathize but still get everybody to do their best;
- A risk-taker with an artistic vision of life.
If he/she also stays on budget, so much the better. This is just an outline of the areas where a good director must excel; each of these areas has a myriad of duties and responsibilities attached. When vetting potential directors, a producer should watch for signs of patience (coupled with a goal-oriented mindset), especially with people (students, apprentices, volunteers take particular “people skills”) but also an artistic vision, an imagination that manifests in the visual (evidenced in past productions you’ve seen, or visuals such as videos or stills). The management skills (No. 3 above) should manifest themselves in the resume and recommendations. Aspiring young directors should read scripts voraciously, directing them in detail in the mind’s eye.