We had the read-through last night. The cast is phenomenal. The play is full of possibilities. The story is engrossing. The first act ran 50 minutes. The second ran about 80 minutes. Not bad. There were some areas that could possibly be cut, but it would be premature to conceive of cuts. I did bring up the question of what purpose my character and her two scenes serve to the story. Brian agreed.
I am excited to see this work unfold. But other than my own character analysis, analyzing the rest of the text, and researching aspects of the story, mermaids for instance, what is my dramaturgical job in the rehearsal process?
I look to a piece as published in the 10.1, 1978 issue of Theatre at Yale and republished in Dramaturgy in American Theater. I like this piece because it reinforces what a great learning experience this is for me to work with friends in the mounting of a new play and bring not just bring my desire to learn dramaturgy but also my desire to help see my friends flourish. It is the perfect storm. And by storm, I mean something beautiful that raises our stakes and makes us wrestle with two diametrically opposed extincts - one to at once run and seek cover, and two to jump and splash and dance in puddles and temporary streams and be soaked and remember what we were like as children experiencing nature without worrying about exposing ourselves to the risk of pain and death.
I hope this experience will mean running through temporary streams of consciousness, experiencing the nature of life, not worrying about the risks we take as we expose ourselves as artists and as friends.
Here's the piece, an excerpt really, by Mira Rafalowicz, with credits too long to type:
people ask me what I do in the theatre.
this is a selection from my list of answers:
an internal critic
an intimate participant
an outspoken audience member
an extra eye
I work in dialogue with the director and the writer(s),
I help asking questions and finding doubts.
the questions are essential, answers and solutions
are part of the end of a process. we don't always find them.
I give my opinion about just about everything.
People either listen to my advice, my opinions,
or they don't.
as a dramaturg I am limited in whom I can work with.
I can help make something better, clearer, only
when the basic working relationship is one of
mutual respect. Not uniformity of thinking and
feeling (there is no creative dialogue possible
in uniformity, total agreement), but a basis of
sympathy. Ideally with everyone involved in the process.
So I can really only work with friends. When I run
out of friends to work with in the theatre, I
will do something else.
As Robert Brustein (founder, Yale Repertory Theatre and ART) states:
The more deeply engaged dramaturgs are in the process of production, the more generally accepted they are by colleagues and collaborators. It would seem, therefore, that the most delicate and difficult function of all remains that of internal critic - finding a way to communicate views without arousing defensiveness - which requires extraordinary discretion but is a necessary, indeed a critical aspect of the job, and can be accomplished as long as the dramaturg is seen as concerned with improvement rather than vanity or ego.
To that end, a quote of the day I receive today as part of my daily emails traffic says:
"A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before we changed." - Earl Nightingale1921-1989, Author and Radio Personality
That's pretty much it.