(Scott Heller’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/5/2021; via Pam Green. Photo: From left, the stage directors Whitney White, Tyne Rafaeli, Taibi Magar and Danya Taymor, who have taken on projects in other media during the shutdown.Credit…Caroline Tompkins for The New York Times.)

The pandemic pause has prompted a prizewinning cohort to ask hard questions about salaries, working in other media and choosing collaboration over “scarcity.”

By most measures, they’re doing great. Four prizewinning directors with notable Off Broadway résumés, working with such breakout writers as Aleshea Harris, Will Arbery and Ming Peiffer.

No top Broadway credits yet. But Tyne Rafaeli, 38, associate directed “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The King and I” there. And just as the pandemic struck, three had big breaks, with productions that dove into the maelstrom of race and racism: Danya Taymor, 32, was rehearsing Jeremy O. Harris’s “Daddy” in London, while Whitney White, 35, had just opened her revival of James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner” at Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington. Taibi Magar, 39, was in previews at the Shed with the world premiere of Claudia Rankine’s “Help.”

All those runs were cut short, as was a Rafaeli production Off Broadway. And, as for so many others, a year without live theater has left these four women — some longtime friends, all likely to have competed for the same opportunities — asking how their jobs and aspirations might change when the doors reopen. (A survey by their union had already flashed “glowing red warning signs” about the profession.)

Do theater directors create, or just support? Do their skills translate to other media? Is earning $40,000 a year enough? The foursome addressed those questions in a group Zoom conversation and through follow-up interviews, edited together here.

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