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A DRAMATURG DEVISING: PRODUCTION DRAMATURGY

The newest post in a series by Resident Dramaturg, Lynde Rosario.


If you are following this blog series you will remember my last post about research and development. It ended with a series of meetings to unpack what the ensemble learned from workshopping the piece in front of new audiences. In these meetings we avoid phrases such as ‘I liked’ or ‘I didn’t like’ and strive to express any discoveries, surprises, and missed opportunities. We rehash our original provocations and get to work analysing what we have created to this point.

 

Now we embark on devising a full production.

 

Lynde with the creative team of Artemisia's Intent 
at one of our first scripting rehearsals in January 2018

 

This is the part in the process when we all re-assume our traditional roles. The performers need a script, with lines to learn. Our previous Script Map has provided our structure so now we need to add the words. It is the work of the dramaturg to collate, cut, track, edit, rewrite, construct, and arrange. In an ensemble, the dramaturg is usually collaborating with everyone to agree on, or argue for, what stays and what goes. Though our Artistic Director didn’t coin the phrase, we do say that we hold many ‘joyful funerals’ for those moments that do not make it into the final version of the show.

 

This is what a script map looks like.... we love index cards. 

 

Once the script is frozen and the staging content is confirmed, the actors take the stage and I proudly take my place in the audience. From there, my role is that of in-house audience member. I do my best to see the piece with fresh eyes, track issues of clarity, and ultimately ask as many thoughtful questions as needed. At this point in the process, I recommend taking some time away from the piece. Propose a dramaturgy schedule to your ensemble members that assures you will be present for testing new elements, and any run of the show or section of the show.

 

In my humble opinion, the world of dramaturgy is an egoless one; and the practice of ensemble devising reinforces that sentiment.

 

We need to be able to serve the work first, and in order to do that an ensemble must understand, appreciate, and advocate for the offers of every artist. When designers look for context, you can provide it. When a press rep is looking for pull quotes, you have them at the ready. When the stage manager needs to know when one moment ends and the next begins, you already know. And when the director needs to give notes to the actors, you can be giving that director notes on the piece as a whole; from the perspective of an audience member, with the knowledge of an ensemble member. You know the vision for the piece and so you will be able to recognize how effectively that vision is being executed on stage.

 

During tech, I am there to support the ensemble. Stay on course when all goes well and maintain the calm when all goes ill (as it will). While all of the designers are set to work on their craft, I will usually focus my attention to a craft of my own: creating the lobby display and program. I believe the program and lobby display are our audiences’ first introduction to the full production; and therefore deserve their own blog post. Stay tuned for my next and final blog in this series - A DRAMATURG DEVISING: AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT.

 

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You can see our newest devised work brought to full production: ARTEMISIA'S INTENT.

 

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES OF ARTEMISIA'S INTENT:

July 26th @ 7:30PM at The Kraine (NYC)

July 31st @ 8:30PM and August 1 @ 7PM at The Wilbury Theatre Group (Providence, RI)  

 

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