A moment with Director Emily Scott Banks about the inception

Q: Audiences have come to know you as a staple at Stage West - both on and off stage. As a director, can you talk a bit about your process and how you arrive at your vision - from initial thoughts about the script to design concepts to staging? And is there any aspect of this process that has been unique?

A: My process, as it were, is always inspired and described by the unique qualities of each text – which completely vary from script to script. However, initially I always begin by asking what I perceive as the playwright’s intention with the piece, and do I resonate with that and feel I have a way to tell it that inspires larger emotions in me; passions, joy or even fear. (Sometimes the latter is oddly the most inspiring.) Then, once I have read the script, and sat with myself in quiet, I ask from as ego-less a place as I can, “Why should I be a part of this story? What can I bring to it? How can I helm this in a way that might have meaning for an audience?” If I feel there is an answer that reverberates positively, I proceed. Additionally, if images, emotions and challenges start firing in my brain from first reads of the script, and then I cannot stop thinking about them, I am passionate about proceeding. After that, I always strive to suit my approach and style to the individual needs of the script. If it’s an Aaron Posner meta-theatrical piece, I highlight the theatrical seams and go for the unadorned emotional truth. If it’s a language-driven classic, like An Iliad, it all depends on the rhythm and poetry of the language, and how to honor that but keep it alive and connected to an immediate humanity. If it’s a period piece like Ada and the Engine, I want to remove the barriers of time between the humans of Then and the humans of Now. However, always, always I respond to the music and rhythms and movement…and these are unique to each text. Finally, I never want to insert myself in an overt way between the text and the audience – instead I want to remove those doors and barriers.