In preparation for my work teaching dramaturgy in Singapore at the Intercultural Theatre Institute next month, I’ve been collecting definitions of what is often, in the UK at least, a slippery customer….
My seminars will be part of four perspectives – the playwright’s, the director’s, the actor’s and designer/scenographer’s. I’m excited, as part of the time I will be co-teaching with collaborators from actual productions of my plays, or performances we have co-created. We will be deconstructing the text, roles, and decision-making process, as well as sharing play texts and video/documentation of those specific performances with the students. I hope this will demystify what can be a perplexing and opaque process, and is the most holistic and revealing approach I have yet to come across.
The role of the dramaturg and the definition of dramaturgy can vary hugely. The understanding of the role in the German state theatre context is immensely different from many examples in the US repertory theatre system – and different again in the UK. To kick us off on what I hope will be a regular feature on this blog is a definition culled from the RSC’s ‘Radical Mischief’, Issue 02 from May 2014, and the associate dramaturg for the RSC’s Midsummer Mischief Festival, Sarah Dickenson:
‘The term “dramaturgy” refers to the art or technique of dramatic composition and theatrical representation: the means by which a story can be shaped into a performable form. All performance works have a dramaturgy, mostly sharing a set of base principles but diversifying widely within that. This dramaturgy is first created by the playwright/ makers when they construct a story for the stage, is developed in rehearsal by the director, designers and actors and then comes to full fruition in the interaction the performance has with its audience. This process varies, particularly if the piece is devised or physical, but the key points remain.
A dramaturg is concerned with supporting this process at some or all of these stages. In practice, that job might involve many different tasks, from the identification of performable work, to working with a playwright through several drafts, to hands on support in the rehearsal room. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a cup of tea with a theatremaker as they wrangle with a particularly tricky aspect of their piece. However, always at the heart of the dramaturg’s role is the ability to constructively, clearly and sensitively question a piece of work towards making it the best it can be, without confusing, overwhelming or blocking those making it.”
Sarah Dickenson in RSC’s Radical Mischief. Issue 02. May 2014. @sedickenson
I will be sharing further perspectives and experiences later on this blog.
Posted in on process, on writing
Tagged actor, director, drama, dramaturg, dramaturgy, German state theatre, Intercultural Theatre Institute, Midsummer Mischief Festival 2014, performance, plays, Radical Mischief, RSC, Sarah Dickenson, scenographer, Singapore, theatre
Those who know my work within disability arts and Deaf culture, or have been following this blog for some time, will know my position on casting and the (mis)representations of disability on stage.
Cast of ‘In Water I’m Weightless’ by O’Reilly, National Theatre Wales/Southbank Centre 2012, part of the Cultural Olympiad
I’ve posted up various provocations about ‘cripping up’ (non-disabled actors impersonating various physical and sensory impairments) and the necessity of playwrights to, as Lisa Hammond put it, ‘put crips in scripts.’ Now my heart sings (or I’m at least encouraged) to see the National theatre in London giving out a call for disabled and Deaf actors for general auditions in January 2014.
Time will tell if this is lip service, but meanwhile…. the deadline for application approached on Monday 2nd December 2013….. So what are you waiting for? Go apply!
Deaf and Disabled Actors – General Theatre Auditions 2014
The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company in association with a number of freelance Casting Directors from across the field of theatre are opening applications for general auditions with Deaf and Disabled actors in January 2014.
Applicants should be professional actors identifying as Deaf or Disabled, who have either undertaken vocational training, or have undertaken paid stage work in the business.
Successful applicants will have the opportunity to perform a monologue or duologue from a modern or classical play of their choosing in front of a range of theatre casting directors, and to attend a Q&A with a panel of theatre industry professionals.
Application deadline: Monday 2nd December
Successful applicants will be informed during the week of 16th December
Auditions will take place on Monday 6th January (10am-8pm) and Tuesday 7th January (10am-6pm) in Central London (please specify any non-availability over these two days in your application form)
Q&A: Tuesday 7th January 6.30pm – 8pm
How to Apply
Download the application form from their website (link, above)
Email your completed application form, acting CV and headshot to email@example.com by Monday 2nd December
Postal applications should be addressed to RSC NT Auditions, Casting Department, National Theatre, London SE1 9PX
For applicants without email access please contact Charlotte on 020 7452 3448
The National Theatre Studio is fully accessible, however please inform us of any additional requirements you may have on the day on your application form.
If you have any queries please contact Charlotte on 020 7452 3448