What does a Movement Director do?

Whisper #118

Movement Director Ayse Tashkiran takes us through her preparations for The Provoked Wife.

My work on a show starts a long time before the first day of rehearsal, usually with a meeting with the director where we have the chance to talk about the play and the production. Movement directing is a brilliant, creative role because it involves quite a lot of dreaming ahead of time and planning. I prepare thoroughly, of course...

"But how can you prepare without the actors?"

Well, you can’t really, so I do preparation that gets me nearer to the world of the play and the demands of the production. The director kickstarts the ‘feel’ of the world and the play sets off a series of challenges: I respond by imagining the movement and getting to know more about the bodies that the writer, in this case John Vanbrugh, was writing for. I move, usually at home with my cats taking cover.

  • What does wearing heels/corset/wig do to our movement?
  • What does greeting in a particular way say about our bodies?
  • Why might I walk in a park in 1697?
  • What are the social codes at the time?
  • Who can I touch and how?
  • What is it like to be a servant?
  • What is it like to be a woman of wealth with my female entourage?
  • What do I do for fun?
  • What does my work involve?
  • What might my relationship to my spouse be? 
A woman in a black vest holds an arm out to the side.
Ayse Tashkiran in the rehearsal room
Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC Browse and license our images

For this show, I was doing that process while also movement directing the Royal Shakespeare Theatre production of As You Like It – and they couldn’t be more different. For most productions I put together a playlist of music that somehow captures the energy of the world I am imagining and researching – what is the rhythm of life in this scene? I collect images that capture information about bodies.

For The Provoked Wife, I have also read first person accounts from the period about London, about the sex industry, about architecture, about marriage laws and codes, about domestic life... and then I get ready to meet the acting company, where all of that dreaming and moving and planning becomes incredibly concrete because they all arrive with their full capacity to move as human beings with their innate qualities. Then my movement process is to help create the physical life of our world… with them.

Ayse's pre-rehearsal playlist


Ayse Tashkiran

Ayse Tashkiran

I am a movement director and an associate artist at the RSC. I also write about movement and teach movement directors. This season I have created the movement work for As You Like It and am currently working on The Provoked Wife for the Swan Theatre. I come from an Anglo Turkish-Cypriot background, which explains my love of my little South London garden with its jasmine, lemon and olive trees. And I do love my yoga practice when not moving with actors in rehearsal room... Find me on Twitter @AyseTashkiran and at www.aysetashkiran.com.

You may also like