An Interview with Director Mike Stack
Director Mike Stack is taking the helm for our upcoming action adventure PHARAOH SERKET AND THE LOST STONE OF FIRE. Mike is a Vancouver-based director, actor and educator and Carousel Theatre is very excited to have him join us on this production!
Can you tell us about what a director does on a show?
The role of the Director is really about being the facilitator for all of the various artists working to create the vision of the show – and to be true to the author’s script, ensuring that everything we do is in support of the storytelling. While I must have a clear idea of how I would like the story to be told, it is my responsibility to allow the actors, designers, and other creators to flourish within their own areas of expertise. I learn more from them about the different senses of the play – textures, sounds, colour, character, etc – than any amount of of presupposition or research could ever teach me. It is the creative efforts of the entire collaborative ensemble that allows me to best direct how the action should take place.
What do you enjoy the most about being a director?
I love watching the artists create – doing what they do best. To see a set, prop, or costume design unfold from our first discussions, to the artists’ sketches, and finally to life-size works of art is a wonder to behold. I can hear the play many different ways in my head when I read it alone, but once the actors start inhabiting the roles, details begin to emerge which I hadn’t considered. It is this artistic “magic” that thrills me most about the theatre, and when I am in the director’s role, I get the privilege of seeing and hearing it all unfold before me.
What drew you to the story of Pharaoh Serket as a director?
When I first read the script I was immediately taken by its wonderful sense of adventure. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and how the mysterious aspects of it would play out. It also struck me that at its heart is a kind of coming-of-age tale of three young people who come together to embark on an adventure, needing each other to find the courage to travel to places unknown. And while it certainly has much humour and lightness, it really is a dramatic tale, which knows that its young audience will want to come along on such an adventure. One has to only look at the lasting popularity of the Indiana Jones-type movies or the Harry Potter series to see how much young people embrace stories filled with adventure, mystery, and magic Also, the idea of playing with a story set in Ancient Egypt was very interesting to me – it seems to be a rather unique piece for young audiences.
Can you tell us a bit about the kind of research you had to do to prepare to direct this production?
I have been trying to fill myself with as many images and as much information about Ancient Egypt as I can, so that I am best able to help create the flavour of the piece. Understanding the physical aesthetics and human dynamics of the time will best allow me to assist the other artists on our production. As we draw closer to rehearsal, I find myself immersing myself daily in images of the time.
There are tons of massive set changes written in to the script. How are these going to be accomplished on stage?
Our set designer and I have had many meetings regarding these challenges. I am a fan of simplicity on the stage, and inviting our audience to fully engage their imaginations in the storytelling. That said, there are many requirements for changes of location in this play. I believe we have found a solution that is not only effectively simple and theatrical, but will lend itself to a nice balance between inspiring the audiences’ imaginations while honouring the opulence and grandiosity of the time. I don’t want to give too much away – we do need to have our secrets, after all – but I hope you’ll come to see how we approached these challenges that the script presents.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about the production?
Carousel Theatre is a national gem, and the artists involved with this production are some of the finest in the city. This script holds many treasures and mysteries, and is sure to be an adventure that will have our young audiences on the edge of their seat. I hope you will join us.