Meet the Director of Where You Are | Jane Spence

Jane Spence is directing her second play this season at Lighthouse Festival! She first performed at Lighthouse in 2010 in two shows that season: When the Reaper Calls, and The Melville Boys by Norm Foster. She was the Assistant Director on First Name Basis by John Spurway in 2017 and workshopped Hurry Hard by Kristen Da Silva in 2018. A few years later, she performed in Beyond the Sea by Kristen Da Silva and was the director of Norm Foster’s Halfway There in the 2022. Earlier this summer, she directed the world premiere of Ephraim Ellis’ On The Air and is thrilled to be directing Kristen Da Silva’s Where You Are. We sat down with Jane to talk about all things related to directing and what she think makes a good director.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What are the qualities that a theatre director needs to be successful?

Jane Spence (JS): The directors I loved working with the most were able to create a work environment that made it feel safe to take risks. I think people do their best work when they feel valued and appreciated.

The cast & director of Where You Are. From left to right: Susan Henley as Glenda, Caroline Toal as Beth, Director Jane Spence, Gaelan Beatty as Patrick, and Melanie Janzen as Suzanne.

LF: Describe your daily routine as a theatre director.

JS: Well, it changes because there’s a big section of prep time where you’re casting and envisioning the play and working with designers to get ready for rehearsal. During rehearsal, it’s much more of a regular schedule. You go in a little bit early and have your coffee and talk about the few things that were percolating overnight, and then go over each scene in more and more detail as you go through the rehearsal process.

LF: What kind of mindset and strategy is required for the role of director?

JS: I think the best strategy when approaching a production is to be as prepared as possible and to come in with a clear but flexible vision. Theatre is a collaborative medium and the vision is bound to evolve with the contributions and ideas of the other artists involved.

LF: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a director?

JS: I have been very fortunate to have the guidance of some incredible mentors. I suggest seeking out time with directors whose work you admire, cast well, and never underestimate the value of a great stage management team. In my experience, they are the unsung heroes of almost any production.

LF: How do you work with other members of the creative team, such as the lighting, sound or set designers to create a cohesive and finished production?

JS: Being able to collaborate on all the aspects of the production is my favorite part about being a director. I feel fortunate to work with so many talented artists. The magic happens when all the elements are combined in a way to best support the story we are trying to tell.