Play interpretation is a subject much understressed and often neglected in extant literature on play production. The space devoted to it is disproportionately small in relation to its importance. The emphasis in most publications has been on the procedures and techniques of the physical production, which are, of course, more easily explainable, less controversial, and perhaps more factual than interpretation. The "how" too often takes precedence over the "what" and the "why" in the teaching and practice of play production.
The primacy of the play establishes the principle that play interpretation, the "what" and "why" of play production, is the creative basis for the "how." The moment a director decides to use a particular setting with a particular shape, mass, line, and color he reveals his understanding of the play for which the scenery is proposed. The casting of an actor and every movement, gesture, posture, vocal inflection, and emotional expression he uses in performance stem from the director's interpretation-assuming that the director's conception of the play is the controlling and integrating factor of the production. As the coordinator of the production, the director unifies its different aspects through his interpretation. The directing, acting, ground plan, setting, costumes, make-up, lighting, and music of a production represent the purpose and meaning of a play. Play interpretation must then be conceived to make the director's interpretive and technical processes creative.
The art of play directing, like any other art, emanates from individual desire and need to be creative. These motivating forces are stimulated by the need of communicating with an audience. Quite simply, creativity expresses the common hunger of man to speak to his fellow man about mankind. The theatre director, through his directorial creativity, speaks to the audience. In the process of play interpretation the director imagines a dramatic experience for the audience. The director stands between the play and the audience. He receives impressions, stimuli, and ideas from the play and transmits them in kind, amount, and extent to the audience. Moreover, like any other artist, he responds to the original stimulus and seeks to arouse in others a pattern of responses like his own.
Creative interpretation arises out of the director's understanding of the audience and of the special nature, structure, and meaning of a play as a medium for evoking the emotional and intellectual response of the audience. The study of creative interpretation must . . .