Quiet Revolutions in Dramaturgy

“You invaded my dreams, Scapin?”
“Yes, sir, but only the first level.”

—Bill Irwin’s Scapin, now playing!

I have dreamt of dramaturgy two nights in a row now. I have no details. I don’t remember the dreams. I have simply woken up with the overwhelming sensation that my sleeping world has been filled with dramaturgical projects. This would mean that “work” has invaded my dreams for the first time since I was waiting tables four years ago, nights oft filled with anxiety dreams about oversized table-sections and orders that took four hours to prepare.

But those dreams were about the futility of action, my psyche’s version of the Sisyphus myth. Waiting tables has no forward momentum; that is why you are “waiting.” (Yes, I have thought about that wordplay a lot.) The last two mornings, however, I have risen with a impression of accomplishment. What was accomplished during those dreams, I’ll never know, but I do know from whence the dreams came: it is a good time to be a dramaturg.

Two things happened on Thursday that quietly revolutionized patron dramaturgy where I work, and both have the potential to go well beyond contextualizing our plays for our audiences. The first has been a long time coming: Words on Plays, the study guide we create, is going electronic. We will still be printing the souvenir bound copies, which patrons subscribe to and donors of a certain level receive as a perk, but starting with Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (our second show) a PDF version (eWoP) will be available. In addition to this, we’ve started creating web exclusives that are available for free on our showpages. After we hashed out the mechanics of this with our webmistress and head of IT on Thursday, private conversations turned towards the potential of this being only the first step of our involvement in online theater learning. Synapses ablaze.

Download Words on Plays Web Exclusives!

The Music of Pickles: An Interview with Composer/Musician Randy Craig about Scapin

A Playground of Italian Windows: An Interview with Scenic Designer Erik Flatmo about Scapin

Practical Applications of High Renaissance Costuming: An Interview with Costume Designer Beaver Bauer about Scapin

Independent of this and also on Thursday, the Marketing department began a relationship with the Borders in Union Square in preparation for Tales of the City, a musical based on the Armistead Maupin novels, which we are premiering at the end of the season. As part of this collaboration, which would also begin in earnest with Marcus, they want to sell Words on Plays (along with other appropriate titles that we will recommend). For the first time, Words on Plays will be marketed to an unsuspecting not-necessarily-theatrically-inclined readership. How do we make dramaturgy exciting for this audience? How do we use dramaturgy to seduce an audience into the theater?

As a bonus, a theater practitioner from Australia wrote us to ask permission to use our materials in a teacher’s guide he was creating.
Words on Plays: Australian for dramaturgical awesomeness.


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