Sam Gold is an OBIE-winning theater director, and the man behind the new hit Broadway comedy, Seminar. Want to win tickets to see Seminar, starring the ever-wonderful Alan Rickman? You have until February 9, so get cracking! In the meantime, we chatted with Sam about his directing process, his magic way with scripts, and the five playwrights every young writer should know, now.
How do you decide you want to direct a script?
If I read something and I think, “Wow, I might totally fail at this. It’s scary and new and challenging,” that’s a good sign that I should direct it.
What do you notice first about a script?
Its sense of humor.
How many times do you typically read a script you’re working on, from the first time you pick it up to opening night? How does your reading change over the course of the rehearsal process?
There’s no set number. And at a certain point, I’m no longer reading it. It’s an event that I see before me all day, every day.
According to the New York Times, playwrights who’ve worked with you say that you have “an uncanny ability to pinpoint exactly where a problem scene is going wrong and how to fix it.” What does that mean exactly, and what’s your secret? How do you do it?
I work on instinct. I look at what’s in front of me and try to be really honest about it.
What was it like working with Theresa Rebeck on this project? As the playwright, how involved was she in the rehearsal process?
Theresa has so much experience and confidence. She knows the audience, she knows herself as a writer, and she knows how to work hard and fast to elevate the material. She was very involved in rehearsals, but she also gave us a lot of freedom to discover the life of the production on our own.
Have you ever written a play? Would you?
No. Honestly, it’s just not how I think.
Let’s say I’m a young playwright. What do you think are the 5 scripts–old or new–that can teach me the most about my craft?
The Greeks, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, Beckett.
Have you ever had a teacher like Leonard?
No, but I have had some bosses and mentors that made me feel the way Leonard makes his students feel. I think everyone can identify.