Directing a theatre production

Directing a theatre production

SHARED RESEARCH: American writer and composer Stephen Dolginoff’s stage musical Monster Makers looks back at three milestones in monster movie history – the making of the silent classic Nosferatu, Universal’s Frankenstein and the Hammer Horror films.


When I was asked to direct the UK premiere of the show one of my first priorities was to assemble lots of research and reference material to help the cast and production team immerse themselves in the background and details of each era.


I’ve loved these movies since watching them as a child on TV but they weren’t as familiar to the rest of the team. The challenge was to get everyone to the point where we could faithfully recreate the worlds of these iconic stories – the look, the feel, the acting styles, the real people like Peter Cushing and Boris Karloff – in a way that would satisfy the most diehard of monster movie fans.

Directing a theatre production

I used Shooglebox to pull together everything useful I came across – a combination of photos, videos and articles found online and material I unearthed in books, magazines, DVD extras and elsewhere.


To start with I threw everything into a box unsorted as I found it – adding notes and thoughts of my own – until I could start to see which elements were going to be most useful. Before sharing the box with others I added more structure – pulling together cards into stacks for each of the three acts of the show, for each of the 15 characters the five actors played, and for those in the team responsible for set design, sound, lighting, make-up, costume, props and publicity. Everyone could then top up the box with their own research as we started rehearsals. And Shooglebox continued to prove invaluable as we moved into the theatre – we’d use it on an iPad to pull up pictures or videos to help us perfect a piece of scene detail, make-up or costume. Finally, the box acts as a great record of the show itself. And it's archived away ready to be reused for any future production.

Directing a theatre production