So what is dramaturgy? What does a dramaturg do? Might you be a dramaturg?National Theatre Wales are setting up a Dramaturgy Project to explore the role of dramaturgy in theatre and in their own company in particular.
I’m delighted to be invited on the panel to choose this group. Artistic director John McGrath, Executive producer Lisa Maquire, co-playwright Roger Williams and myself will select six people who will lead this fascinating project – four playwrights and two not.
John McGrath writes:
As a result of last years’ Dirty, Gifted and Welsh event, and a very interesting follow up discussion in the Writers Group on this network, I’m pleased to announce today that NTW is setting up a new Dramaturgy Project, to explore the role of the dramaturg in theatre in general and NTW in particular.
The group will involve six ‘dramaturgs’ – four of them playwrights and two not. The group will meet four times over a one year period, and also keep in touch via the online Writers Group. And if you are asking the question ‘but what’s a dramaturg’ then hopefully by the end of the year our team will have some good answers!
Historically the dramaturg has been a more consistent role in European theatre than British. Often this role involves a lot of research and support for the writer and director, but probably more than anything else a dramaturg is concerned with the shape, rhythms and sense of a play or piece of theatre – helping everyone involved to ensure that the production is the best possible version of itself. Dramaturgs may be theatre directors – and theatre directors often do a lot of dramaturgy on the plays they are directing, particularly with new writing – but perhaps most often they are writers who feel they have some skills and insight they can share.
The dramaturgy group at NTW will provide support to some of the writers NTW has commissioned, and will also explore the differing ways that a script and production can take shape, particularly when the usual conventions are being challenged.
The idea for our group grows out of a conversation about ways in which writers can provide support and advice for each other in the creative process – hence the majority of places on the group being for writers. However, there was also an acknowledgement in the discussion that dramaturgy can be equally important when shaping a theatre piece where words are not central. We felt therefore that it would be helpful to have non-writers in our group too.
There’s a small fee of £500 per dramaturg to cover the costs of attending at least three of the core meetings (virtual attendance is okay), plus an average of £1,000 each to provide support and input to writers on commission to NTW. I hope that the group will have a strong presence on this network, so that everyone can follow its development.
Applications to be part of the Dramaturgy Group are now open. Please send a message explaining why you’d like to be involved, plus a CV and a link to your profile on this network to firstname.lastname@example.org Four writers and two other theatre makers will be chosen to form the group by a panel consisting of myself, NTW Executive Producer Lisa Maguire, and writers Kaite O’Reilly and Roger Williams.
The closing date for applications is May 31 2014.