Dramaturgy Essays

Dramaturgy Essays-22
Students might know how to conduct research, write program notes, and host a talkback, but they still struggle with authority. Wilson, provides a useful way to frame the research role for students: Think of research as water. Then bring John’s thought provides a way to think about research, but it also offers a way to think of the dramaturg.

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As a dramaturgy professor in a BA Theatre program, Vogel’s comment begs two questions: “Can we teach an undergraduate student to be ‘the oldest person in the room’—expert, wise, unflappable? ”As I design dramaturgy opportunities for students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte—a small department of about 80 majors in a state university of 22,000 undergraduates—I realize that I cannot train an undergraduate to be an all-knowing sage, but that I can teach the skills required to fulfill the production role.

Still, taking on the role of production dramaturg with a faculty or guest director can be daunting for a student who has taken only one course in the practice.

Also, wouldn't the Dramaturgy student be better served majoring in directing or playwriting?

He or she would use the same skills but in a more active and (in theory) self-supporting way.

Why, when most theaters have a thin budget to operate under, would they spend money on a Dramaturg?

The money is better spent either a) Paying the playwright more, or b) Using the money to host the playwright during rehearsals.

for its 2012 revival, Paula Vogel said: “I actually functioned more as a dramaturg,” because, she joked, “I was the oldest person in the room.” On the one hand, Vogel’s comment suggests that the dramaturg is the person who knows the play better than anyone else.

On the other hand, the figure of “the oldest person in the room” implies that in addition to being an expert researcher, the dramaturg exercises a quiet authority, a gravity that can come only with experience.

This involves transforming the “oldest person in room” into a pack of critically-engaged young people who are all—as Irelan, Fletcher and Dubiner would have it—committing “acts of dramaturgy.”At UNC Charlotte, all Dramaturgy students— about twenty per semester—participate in a dramaturgy team for a theatre department production.

By breaking up the dramaturg role into a set of research-driven tasks, students engage in collaborative and singly-authored projects that give them room to fail and try again.


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