Spotlight: Kristina Lloyd, Director

Here’s this week’s installment of the director-to-director interview series. Thanks for reading!
Are there other questions that you would like to see included in future interviews? If so, add them in the comment section below or email me at …
Meet Kristina Lloyd
Hometown: Los Angeles
Freelance Director. Not currently affiliated with a theatre company, but looking. Works frequently with Group Repertory Theatre, Odyssey Theatre, Secret Rose Theatre, and most recently with Fierce Backbone Theatre Co. Also has worked at the Stella Adler Theatre, Macha Theatre, Two Roads Theatre, and the Miles Playhouse around Los Angeles.
1. What does a director eat for breakfast?

Coffee and toast with peanut butter.

2. What attracted you to directing?

It was a required course to graduate from the theatre program at UCLA, and I was chosen from an interview to participate in the very small directing class.

3.     Did you receive academic and/or practical training in directing? And how has (not) having this formal education/training shaped your directing career?

I went to UCLA and studied Theatre, and acting in particular. But after choosing me for his directing class, the teacher took a particular interest in me and encouraged me to take greater and greater risks in my material. He also invited me to take graduate directing classes while an undergraduate, which I am very grateful for, and even invited me into the master’s program, which I declined.

I did not originally intend to be a director, as I was an actor. It came about that I started to direct in the theatre professionally, because one of my alumni friends in my theatre company at the time asked me to direct her in a play she had written, and I agreed to. After that, directing jobs have never stopped coming my way. So directing kind of found me. Now I direct in both theatre and film, this last week my first feature premiered in Los Angeles, called DRIVING BY BRAILLE, and is in several festivals in coming months, already garnering nominations and awards at several fests so far.

4.     Which director (or other theatre artist) (dead or alive) has had the greatest impact on you as a director?

Baz Luhrmann.  I appreciate his theatricality in his films, the hyper-stylization he is able to create, combined with romanticism and great storytelling, but when I saw his theatrical production of La Boheme at the Ahmanson in LA, I saw that it is possible to create the same kind of feeling, of complete immersion of environment in the theatre (with the right budget, of course!), but that was very inspiring to me in terms of taking risks and being bold in my work.

5.     In your personal library, what is the most indispensable text on the craft of directing? Or, alternately, have books/practical guides proven unhelpful?
I have many books in my personal library that I refer to regularly when working on projects, but also those that are more specific. I do particularly love the text The Dark Comedy by J.L. Styan, I have used that one many times.
6.     Defend/Describe the importance of ‘the director’ in contemporary theatre.  (Has the director’s place/status changed in the time you have been directing?)

I think the director is the guiding force for all the creation that goes on with the effort of putting up a play, allowing all the artists to work to their best potential within a positive environment. But I never, as an actor, really had any good experiences with a director, they were never the leaders I hoped they would be. So when I became a director, I strove to be the kind of director I always wanted to work with. I think each director has their own style I have developed my own through experience.

7.     How would you characterize/describe your own directing style?

Nurturing toward the actors, accessible to all collaborators, cheerful and positive when at all possible, always go for it.  Demanding of excellence.

8.     To block or not to block, that is the question. Do you block before rehearsals begin, in the midst of rehearsals, or not at all, and why?

It depends on the play. I’ve done both, for both large and small cast plays. It depends on the actors, also. I have to gauge my cast for each particular play. Once the actors are on their feet, I’ve given them their space to work in so they know what their environment is. I want them to start establishing character behaviors early.

Usually, I’ve already chosen key pictorial moments in the play that I want to see. I make little drawings of the moment I’m creating to show to the actors. Then help them find that pictorial moment in the play that I’m looking for by themselves through organic blocking during the first couple of weeks of rehearsal. Then cement it through the middle of rehearsal process based on what works for the play, so that at the end they are certain of what they are doing before they are performing in front of an audience and are absolutely living in their character.
I am also a dancer and choreographer, so many of my pieces have some sort of movement element which requires precision.

9.     What quirks, habits, rituals, etc. (if any) inform your directing process?

When I direct a play, I make a graph drawing of the entire piece prior to the start of rehearsal so I know the piece inside and out and I can see it on paper the flow of the actors and storyline, the number of lines in any given scene, it’s all mapped out for me. At the first reading I usually show it to the actors and they are always highly impressed. It sets the precedent that I am prepared, and I expect them to be as well. It works pretty well.

10.     What style/type of work do you find most compelling to direct?  If you have an area of specialization, what are the unique challenges/needs of directing this kind of work?

Thematically, I always choose a story that at its heart is a love story. I am fascinated by relationships between people and how they love or struggle to love. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the kind of love that is expected, because I considered ENDGAME a love story. Most recently, I chose to direct a play because I wanted to go farther into a a tragic relationship, take a bigger risk with my actors, and it was a great experience.

11.  What is your fondest directing experience/memory?

My fondest memory was directing ENDGAME by Samuel Beckett at the Odyssey Theatre with Zachary Quinto and Nicholas F. Leland. It was my first bit of critical acclaim and recognition in the theatre, and it was very sweet. Plus, I loved that play and my actors, and Zach was very willing to do any weird thing I asked him to do, and his performance was brilliant.

12.  What is the most challenging work you have directed to date? Why?

The last play I directed, EVERYTHING BUT by T.S. Cook, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter turned playwright, was the most challenging piece so far. It was a play of a sexual nature, and creating a safe space for creativity and finding the right balance on set between the actors in the very intimate piece was probably the most in-the-room, daily challenge I’ve experienced in the rehearsal process.

13.  What advice would you give to a young or aspiring director?

Find something that inspires you, a piece you want to work on. Get friends to read it. Make people interested in it. Make it happen.

14.  What is your current directing project?

In the theatre, I’ll be re-teaming with T.S. Cook on his newest play, SERVICE.

In film, with a partner I am writing THE JOURNAL, currently in second draft. 
Thanks, Kristina!
  • August 3, 2011
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