Friday, February 1, 2008

What is Dramaturgy? By Elizabeth Pool

Elizabeth Pool, our Resident Dramaturg, clears it up for us.

At a recent talk back one of our inquisitive audience members asked the question I get asked quite often – what is a Resident Dramaturg? It’s a question I am used to answering from friends, family members, and perceptive audience members! I like to think of my job as making a play accessible to whoever comes in contact with it, everyone from actor to audience member. In rehearsal, I provide information to actors and directors that underscore the understanding of context – historical context, geographical context, and social context. For example, with a play like The Glass Menagerie, it might help the cast understand their characters place in the world by understanding a bit about life in St. Louis in the 1930s. I also hope to make the play accessible to the audience through tools like program notes and lobby displays. I try to ask the question: What information can be shared about the playwright or play that will make this piece more accessible to YOU, the audience member? I look forward to generating more conversation with you as the season unfolds.

Thoughts on a Quick Trip to Tucson, by Elizabeth Pool.

By Elizabeth Pool, Resident Dramaturg

In mid-January I had the opportunity to visit the University of Arizona and meet with their undergraduate and graduate candidates in dramaturgy. The idea was to talk for an hour with the students about the process of dramaturging adaptations as well as general discussions about launching a career as a dramaturg. The students were professional, enthusiastic, and creative. I was extremely impressed with the exuberance they brought to their work and the commitment they had to dramaturgy. Their portfolios were bursting with snapshots of lobby displays (so imaginative they bordered almost on installation art), extensive writing samples, and thorough research. Dramaturgy can be a fairly solitary pursuit and it was inspiring to be around such an engaged group of people. As I was flying home from Tucson, on a clear day and above some pretty spectacular mountains, my thoughts wandered to these students and their abundance of “Big Ideas.” They reminded me that theatre and the creation of art can be exuberant, intelligent, and graceful all at the same time.