Master Class in Directing
with Jerry Zaks
Offered in partnership with The Park Avenue Armory
Thursday, January 29, 2015

“The sound of an audience laughing is the sound of people falling in love with the characters onstage,” says Broadway veteran director Jerry Zaks. But comedy, he admits, is very hard to do well. How can directors elicit funny, yet real, performances from actors? How do they encourage actors to take risks? And what can directing comedy teach us about directing any kind of play? In this Master Class, Mr. Zaks demonstrates his approach to directing, and his theory of acting, by exploring scenes from two plays he directed: The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare (for which he won a Tony) and Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang.

NOTE: This is an extended Master Class. Participating teachers will meet again after the Master Class (after school and without Mr. Zaks) to prepare for a culminating event in May: A festival of scenes directed by the teachers and performed by their students for each other.

Jerry Zaks has received four Tony Awards and seven Tony nominations, four Drama Desk Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, and an Obie. His Broadway and off-Broadway credits include Sister Act, The Addams Family, Guys and Dolls, Six Degrees of Separation, Lend Me a Tenor, The Front Page, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Smokey Joe’s Café, Anything Goes, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Foreigner, A Bronx Tale, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Sister Mary Ignatius, Beyond Therapy, Baby with the Bath Water, and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Mr. Zaks is a founding member of the Ensemble Studio Theater. He received the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and is a 2013 inductee to the Theatre Hall of Fame.