“The play was very much what it was when it was first sent to him. All those scenes were there, the same flow of the play. But he would tweak the beats, and he'd shape the sequences within the scenes.”
“How interested was he in the actors being faithful to his dialogue?”
“Oh, it's not even a question. I think everyone in the room understands that the language the playwright uses is not just the broad ideas. That there can be as much meaning in the syntax, or in the rhythms the playwright has written, as in the broader meanings of the theme. There was never any kind of 'we’ll improvise something here.'”
On rare occasions Margulies would solicit advice from the actors.
“You’d just start going through the text, and he’d say 'Why don't you come in from this area over here?' He'd never tell you exactly what to do, but just a couple of broad strokes. And then as rehearsals progressed -- I think after two weeks -- we did a run through of the play. And Dan maybe gave each of us two or three notes. And you'd think ‘I'm doing so much, he only has these comments?’ And you start to wonder, well, maybe he doesn’t like me, he doesn't think I'm good enough that it's worth commenting on. But what you realize throughout the process is that his direction is -- he sculpts. You can do the whole play, and the only note will be 'You know, these two lines that you have, you're putting a little pause in between. Pull those right together.' And when I put these two lines together, boy, you find that one little adjustment is having a subtle shift on some kind of undertone in the scene. Or he'll give a little physical note that suddenly propels you into an entirely deeper meaning.” Dan’s style with the physical staging is similar, Gross explains. “For the most part, there's not a lot of work on staging, unless there's a problem. And then he's making a visual composition, a balance of where the audience’s eye will go, and who they should be looking at in a scene. I think Dan is a masterful director.”