Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Conceptual Analysis: "Directing"

Joe White sent me this email yesterday:
Howdy all! I'll be directing the Rice Light Opera Society in their production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, March 18-27, at Will Rice College, Rice University. Shows are Thursday-Saturday at 8pm (except Friday 3/26, which is at 10pm). Tickets are $5 for Rice students, $10 others. For reservations, directions, and more info, please go to http://HailPoetry.com/ Hope you can make it! Joe
I expect the show will be good, and if you're in Houston (or will be one of those weekends), I think you should see it. I'll be there the 27th. But what I wanted to focus on in my blog was this sentence: "I'll be directing ... The Pirates of Penzance, March 18-27." Directing is certainly "time-apt" -- it's something that people do, and the event of the directing does exist in time. So, for instance, there's nothing at all odd about my saying that I directed a show last spring, or that Wolfgang Petersen will direct Ender's Game in 2006. But when exactly does directing occur? It sounds odd to me for Joe to say that he will direct Pirates March 18, since, presumably, his work as director will by then be finished. Then again, it does seem possible, at least in principle, for a director to 'quit' a show very, very late in the process -- maybe even after performances have begun. So what do we think? What are the (non-deflationary, please) truth conditions for "Joe directing the show at time t."? A few pieces of intuitive data to keep in mind:
  • Joe can be directing a show when rehearsals are not taking place -- say, at noon, when everyone is doing something un-show-related.
  • There must be a starting and ending point, since directing is tensed -- I will direct next year, I am directing, I directed last year. These are mutually exclusive.
  • One would think that the earliest point at which we could describe the director as having directed the show is significant.
  • Auditions sometimes happen considerably before the first rehearsals.

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