The Washington Post

Artists in their own words: Mark Ramont

Just in time for the onslaught of tourists, Ford's Theatre is reprising " One Destiny " for the summer season beginning this week."One Destiny" is a dialogue based production with two characters who have connections with the historic assassination of Abraham Lincoln at the theatre in 1865, and is directed by Mark Ramont, who is leaving his position as director of theatre programming later this month to teach acting and directing to a new generation of theatre artists. But he won't be leaving directing behind, entirely. Early next year he is set to direct "Next Fall" for the Round House Theatre, for which he directed "Amadeus." Before he heads back to school, he explained to Arts Post the special bond he tries to build with and between his actors, his special way of tackling the sometimes excruciating early days of rehearsal, and the differences and similarities between acting and teaching.

Mark Ramont, director of "One Destiny at Ford's Theatre. The play will run though July 2. (Courtesy of Ford's Theatre)

"Cast an actor well - in a role that demands their best - and then give them room to breathe. If you watch and listen to an actor well in rehearsal, they will tell you when they need help; it's your job to be there to support them when they do with a piece of direction that will spur their imagination and help them see the possibilities that exist in the moment."

“The first day of rehearsal, I always like to lay down my two ground rules for working: first, we try everything- you have an idea, we try it, I have an idea, we try it. We work in an art where you can only tell if something works when you see it, so too much discussion becomes stifling. You just have to do it. The actor's art is a physical art, and I rely very heavily on their physical instincts. In the early days of rehearsal, we spend a lot of time around the table, which allows the actors to become very familiar with not only what they're saying, but also what they're doing. I have actors describe what happens in the scene from his/her character's perspective and I have them title the scene. They write these things down and then share them with the group, which helps create a strong ensemble, as well as gives them a strong sense of the story we're all trying to tell."

“I think there's a bit of a teacher in every director. As you're directing, you're helping the actors discover what's exciting and interesting in both the play and your vision of the play. You're a nurturer, focused on the development of the talents of others, much as a teacher is. But you have to be careful not to become patronizing or condescending. Good actors are very capable of creating a performance without you - they don't need to be "taught" and will resent it if they become too aware of it."


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