"Antoni also shared his in-depth knowledge in a session about the times in which Shakespeare was writing, and about how vital it is for us to find context and connect the present to the past with every new production."
Along with lively discussions, both structured and less formal, participants were given a comprehensive tour of the iconic Festival Theatre building - exploring every region, including its labyrinthine corridors of costume and props workshops - and a hands-on class was led by the Head of Voice and Coaching, Janine Pearson, to help the directors be aware of the importance of their own voice and movement in their demanding job.
The director of Mother's Daughter, Alan Dilworth, led a Stillness workshop to teach the upcoming directors how to find a grounding place of calm from which to work. Stage Managers Ann Stuart and Cynthia Toushan shared their invaluable insights about a director's working relationships with stage management and production staff, and the complex task of scheduling rehearsal times over a long season with such a large repertory company.
New to the company this season, Julia Nish-Lapidus is the assistant director on Private Lives. She was especially thrilled with the Intensive's comprehensive two-day format, offering a unique opportunity to interact with and learn from various Festival experts in a concentrated period of time.
"It was exciting," says Ms Nish-Lapidus. "It truly is the chance of a lifetime to have access to all of these amazing people over a full weekend. Aside from all of the workshops, lessons and talks, we also had shared meals and informal time to get to know one another. The directors, coaches and the other Festival professionals were incredibly generous with their time. With such busy schedules and so much on their plates, I was so grateful that they were happy to sit and discuss ideas with us, and just get to know us as colleagues. It was an incredible training weekend full of people you'd be glad to be able to spend just a few moments with.
"A definite highlight was getting to work on the Festival Stage with Antoni Cimolino and Donna Feore," she adds. "Both of them arguably understand that space better than anyone else, when it comes to directing Shakespeare and musicals. Antoni showed us how perfectly designed that stage is for Shakespeare - for example, how it takes an actor the exact length of a line to cross the space. It was literally built to be the perfect place to perform Shakespeare. Donna brought in some performers from Billy Elliot the Musical, and we had the chance as a group to direct them on the Festival Stage with her guidance.
"And on the final day, Martha Henry hosted a round table with most of this season's directors, and performers like Lucy Peacock and Rod Beattie were also there to chat with us about the actors' relationship with assistant directors. The Intensive was the best possible welcome for a person new to the company. I went straight from the weekend right into my first day of rehearsal on Monday, and I felt relaxed and ready with a confidence and comfort level that I may not have had otherwise."