Monday, September 18, 2006

Here is a morsel from a poem that made me laugh today. It's by Dave Berman:
"You know what I'm talking about,

and that's the kind of fellowship that's taking place in town, out in
the public spaces. You won't overhear anyone using the words
'dramaturgy' or 'state inspection' today. We're too busy getting along."

Ah, it appears no one gets along where I'm from.

"What the fuck is 'dramaturgy'", people so often seem to ask:

Always a great place for a dramaturg to begin is with a definition of an unfamiliar term. According to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, the definition of dramaturgy is as follows:

NOUN: The art of the theater, especially the writing of plays.

Quite a simplistic definition. No wonder the term, thereby the purpose and function, is overlooked by theatre professionals all over the nation. What in the world does a dramaturg do? Saying that a dramaturg does dramaturgy is a bit vague.

A production dramaturg is a consultant and an advocate for the playwright's intentions.

The dramaturg's skill set should include historical knowledge of theatre and society, research skills, an ability to be a patient observer, playwrighting and structural analysis experience, written and verbal communication skills and an ability to work in collaboration with directors, designers, actors and stage managers at a table and in rehearsal.

There is no step-by-step method that all dramaturgs use, just as there is no step-by-step method that all actors or designers use. There are only abilities, expectations and understandings. Dramaturgs do their best to give a production team the information it needs, while not becoming exhaustive with too much information or too many observations. The key is to know the script and to analyze what the audience will need to know, or need to be told through the production choices, in order to fully appreciate the work of the playwright and production team.

-from What's dramaturgy? What's a dramaturg? What does a dramaturg do?

And that's my life these days.

A little bit of Pinter, a little bit of Stoppard--even some Stop/Kiss--I'm gonna be dramaturgizing it all. Oh, I know you doubt that "dramaturgizing" is a word. You can either trust the dramaturg, or look it up yourselves.

And! I have new play ideas. No, I can't tell you about them. Then I'd have to call, I don't know, Tommy Lee Jones to erase your brain.

I can tell you that I've been writing almost every day. You see I quit my job--yes--and got a new one that will not erase my brain. This way, I figure, the federally protected wilderness that is my imagination will not be inhibited by the constant blaring of almost forty children's voices (most saying "When are seconds on Golfish? I want seconds on Goldfish"). I've actually been writing poetry in addition to drama. It's a veritable renaissance. Cross your fingers that it lasts.

I leave you with more Dave Berman:

From Cantos for James Michner: Part II


(If you have ever quit an imaginary job over an imaginary paycut,

mistakenly taken your house's thermostat for a dial
with which to focus the windows,

written a play about the special relationship that blooms
when a withdrawn honor student is assigned to tutor
the school's basketball star,

fallen in love with the woman who plays the part
of your character's wife and bears you a child
that can communicate with rust,

been deafened by the panoply of voices in the classifieds

tied up every private detective in town with false leads,

taken photos of people saying, "shut up,"

or know a place where you can get married at midnight,

then you know what I'm taking about.)


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