Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Beginnings

Greetings! This BLOG is to serve as the production dramaturg's casebook for The Unnoticed (11:11 Theatre Company's September 2006 production). Over the coming weeks, I plan to post notes, photos of pertinent images to the play and photos of the rehearsal process, my own personal research, and any other information that might serve to complete the journal. This casebook is primarily for me to document and learn but I enthusiastically welcome you to take in whatever images and words appear here. I begin the journal with a brief introduction and background.


This week Brian Tuttle offered me the position of Production Dramaturg for 11:11's most recent work, The Unnoticed. I had explained how much I've been wanting to explore this aspect of theatre, and since he offered me the role of Margaret Olsen, a part small enough to let me act and do dramaturgical work, I knew it would be a fulfilling and mutually beneficial experience.

Brian and I have been friends and cohorts for several years ever since he moved to Boston from Ohio. I have had the pleasure of acting in five of his plays with 11:11 Theatre Company and managing marketing, public relations and web design during its first two years in Boston. I share a passion with him to see magic on stage and share that with audiences. I see a talent in him that makes me want to celebrate. I wanted to promote these things, and I did with great satisfaction that the company would flourish. In my final months of marketing, I had the joy of seeing the Boston Globe place 11:11 "on the watch list as a creator of interesting theater in Boston" (July 20, 2005).

It has been a wild and exciting ride, these past few years in Boston's new theatre scene and one I can always cherish for the bonds built and the fruit produced. I have experienced good things and met phenomenal people. The only thing that I suspected missing for me was a certain sense of my skills extending beyond the stage, beyond the webmastering, beyond public relation e-mails to press and theatre folks, and beyond my limited scope to a deeper level. I suspect dramaturgy may be that level. And so this is an experiment of sorts to test that hypothesis. To quote Delirious: "I wanna go deeper but I don't know how to swim."

Kindly bear with me as I learn.


p.s. Below are excerpts I think help summarize the role of dramaturgy from the book Dramaturgy in American Theatre:

The dramaturg’s role in theatre is one who “looks out for the play itself… who keeps the whole in mind.”

We expect the dramaturg “to find answers to questions posed by actors, designers, directors and audience members” regarding a specific play.

The question a dramaturg must ask, “What is keeping me from a full understanding of this play?”

Some of the best work a dramaturg performs “occurs when [s/he] brings dozens of pictures to rehearsals.”

“Negotiating the working relationship [with the director] is perhaps the most crucial element in ... dramaturgical work.”

A dramaturg writes program notes, study guides, press releases, and newsletters. S/he speaks to audiences and facilitates discussions among actors, directors, designers, playwrights and audiences.

“Some of the best dramaturgs are actors, directors, designers, playwrights and producers, even though they might not use this word to describe what they do... Dramaturgy might be performed by an individual or by an entire production ensemble.”

It is obvious that a dramaturg wears many hats! As a professional, s/he must know theatre history, dramatic literature, theory and criticism, research methods, interpersonal communication, collaborative skills, public relations, the whole range of the liberal arts, as well as exposure to and intensive experience in theatre making.

"As the humanist in the woodpile, it is the dramaturg who must act as the conscience of the theatre, reminding it of its original promise, when it threatens to relax into facile, slack and easy paths."

- Robert Brustein, founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theatres

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