Without actors, directors cannot do our work.

So why do so many rehearsal and educational environments go out of their way to destroy actors? Why do directors say things like, Everyone is replaceable*, or You’re not pretty enough to be an actor*, or If this show is not your only priority, you need to get your priorities straight*, or If you’re not suffering, it’s not art*?

Why do we have practices that ostensibly allow for consent-based work, but guilt actors out of exercising their “no”*?

Why don’t we teach directors the health and safety implications of an artform where humans are the medium?

I’m on a mission to change our industry. 

I have spent the past five years talking with mental health professionals, directors, stage managers, designers, and of course, actors. I’ve developed PAUSE: a framework of basic principles and concrete tools.

Over the next several months, I’m teaching workshops on Zoom and in person, to train directors, stage managers, producers, and educators in a better paradigm for working with actors.

Won’t you join me?

Upcoming workshops:

All times listed are Eastern

  • For busy folks who need an async option, (DG) Studio: Throwback is a Directors Gathering program and it is a PWYD opportunity for all folks interested in listening to the recording with access until June 30th. The asynch audio recording is an edited version of my seminar from September 2021 with Directors Gathering.
  • For arts leaders, designers, educators, and directors in Richmond, VA, I’m doing my first in-person workshop, June 2, 5:30-7. $75 per person. To register, email james@quilltheatre.org.
  • For arts leaders, designers, and directors working with adult actors ($75 for professionals, $35 for grad students):
  • For arts leaders, designers, educators, and directors working with student and young adult actors ($75 for professionals, $35 for grad students):
  • I’m also available to do workshops for specific organizations. Let me know if your theater would like to bring me in. I am especially interested in working with university theater departments.

I am not a mental health professional. However, PAUSE has been vetted by three licensed professional counselors. As part of developing PAUSE, I became certified in Mental Health First Aid, but that is the extent of my formal certification in this area.

I do not believe that directors should be therapists. We have very different jobs. PAUSE is about examining the traditional rehearsal environment’s impact on actor mental health and offering concrete tools for creating healthier spaces, guidance about what to do if a person experiences an acute mental health event during rehearsal, and basic principles for working with actors whose chronic mental illness impedes their work.

PAUSE training can be adapted for your organization’s needs. Depending how in-depth you want it to be and the size of your group, trainings can be 2-8 hours long. If your organization has specific challenges, I’m happy to prepare some customized content. Additionally, I offer consulting on things like audition announcements and intake forms (did you know these set the stage for good mental health? I was surprised, too!).

* All things that I witnessed or experienced in theaters before I turned 25.