Tag Archives: Event

Dramaturg as Arts Advocate / Dramaturgs & Designers

17 Jul

Further follow-up from the LMDA11 conference

As mentioned in an earlier post, one day of the conference proceedings were conducted in a style called Open Space. I took notes for two of the sessions, one of which I led. I promised folks I’d make those notes available, so here they are. Click the titles for the linked google docs. If you can make use of any of these ideas, I offer them freely, and ask only that you let me know how it goes and report back.

1. Dramaturgs in Arts Advocacy: Talking to Policy Makers – Convened by Me

I called this session into being to address an issue particularly close to home: how we in the local theatre community can better advocate for ourselves and our impact with local legislators, policy-makers, and thought leaders. I framed this as a question about how dramaturgs can use the tools that come naturally in our practice to be trailblazers in this realm, but I think the issue is vitally important for all theatre stakeholders. In this set of notes, we lay out some obstacles, questions, and ideas for action. I’m in the midst of writing a larger article on this topic (which I’ll link to this blog once it’s published), as well as aiming to tangibly implement some of the ideas through the StageSource Advocacy Committee, on which I sit.

2. Dramaturgs & Designers: Opportunities for Intersection & Collaboration – Convened by Faedra Carpenter, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland

I attended this session because I’ve long felt there are great untapped possibilites in the dramaturg/designer relationship, especially in connection with new work. For that matter, there’s much to be gained by stronger designer/playwright relationships, especially early on in the creation process. It’s this belief that led us at PwritesCom to create the Freedom Art Theatre Retreat, which will put dramaturgs, playwrights, and designers together in the woods for a week to see what can be made of it. This conference session was interesting, in that it reminded me how often the dramaturg and the designer are in the same boat as jobbed-in independent artists.  I think we could be more effective collaborators and creators if we could jointly acknowledge this fact at the start, as well as move beyond designers seeing dramaturgs primarily as library minions (a not uncommon first impression).

If any readers have further ideas on these two topics, I’d love to hear them. Please respond in the comments section, or contact me directly at pwrites<dot>commons <at> gmail<dot>com

 http://www.ri4arts.org/

Reporting from LMDA11: The Dramaturg as Public Artist

13 Jul

Hello all,

The conference of Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas wrapped up over the weekend, and as usual, I’ve left with not only a new spark and verve for my work, but also a few tangible take-aways.

In this first (long) post on the conference, I’ll offer a summary of the events.

Thursday belonged to  LMDA’s University Caucus, which annually allows dramaturgs with ties to academia present Hot Topics, and then turns those topics out into the room for conversation and weekend-long follow up.  I love the U-Caucus because it’s not only a good jumping off point for the rest of the conference as a whole, it provides a useful snapshot of what the academic-affiliated portion of the field has been thinking about over the past year.  This time we had topics as diverse as:

1. Dramaturgy as a mediation tool between culturally/racially difficult plays and sensitive communities (in this case, a challenging play that needed to reach a socially/racially conservative audience base)

2. Dance dramaturgy practiced as scientific R&D

3. Strategies for restoring women to the canon of dramatic literature

4. Finding ways to honor and evaluate the work of dramaturgs as professors within the academic tenure structure

5. Dramaturgy as a healing process

6. Dramaturg as department chair — how to use the skill set of a dramaturg to question and reformulate something as staid and unmoving as an academic department

7. Explorations of ownership, power, and copyright in the dramaturg/playwright relationship

8. And lastly, a report on the upcoming release of the updated LMDA University Caucus Sourcebook, which gathers together members’ dramaturgy syllabi, exercises, case studies, resources, and the like.

We finished the day with an invigorating and amusing keynote address from Adam Lerner, the curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. He made an impassioned argument for the need to embrace being more awesome. Or, as he put it, we creative professionals spend so much time trying to be excellent, we forget to be awesome.

For him, “awesome” means leaving aside the snobbery and stuffiness and elitism that contemporary art (analogue: contemporary theatre) seems to inflict upon the public. At MCADenver, he instituted the Mixed Taste lectures, which pair two absolutely disconnected lecture subjects into one evening event, then holds  joint Q&A. Examples: Walt Whitman and Whole Hog Cooking; Prairie Dogs and Gertrude Stein; Marxism and Kittens Kittens Kittens. It’s an amusing idea, but also one that unearths completely unexpected patterns in the juxtaposition. It gives attendees time to really appreciate issues of, for example, artificial lighting (which, as I recall, was paired in an evening with Warhol). You walk away with new understandings of things you couldn’t guess you’d care about.  For me, the big idea here was that when we find way to connect art to very fabric of our lives, we give our lives and the art meaning; this is authenticity. (Also, the next Mixed Taste will be the starting point for MCADever’s Pigeon Project, whereby Denver residents can check out homing pigeons to take home, care for them for a while, and then release them to find their way back to the MCA roof deck. Amazing and WTF all at once.)

Friday began with several opportunities to take advantage of Denver walking tours and public art.  Several colleagues and I (including PwritesCom Associate Producer Corianna Moffatt ) decided to get out into the mountains and check out the Buffalo Bill grave and museum. It was terrific — so utterly theatrical in itself, and a celebration of the life of one of America’s consummate showmen. Also, it was wonderfully kitschy. Check out this motley crew of dramaturgical types:

Friday also saw several larger-scale panel discussions, once the morning walkabouts were completed. We began with a group session on the status of the field in response to Todd London’s 2010 book Outrageous Fortune: The Life & Times of the New American Play. There was a promise from LMDA leadership that the comprehensive powerpoint presentation used in this session will be available online soon. Once it’s out there, I’ll link it here.

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Playwright Night Out: Thurs, June 30

28 Jun

Playwrights’ Commons is thrilled to host a June meet-up for Boston & New England area playwrights.

Join us for a social gathering Thursday, June 30 at the Institute of Contemporary Art on the Boston Waterfront. Non-playwrights are, of course, welcome too.

This month, we’re focusing on how playwrights can take inspiration from other art forms to spark new ideas. We invite you to take advantage of the ICA’s free admission and spend some time in the galleries before we meet for drinks.

At last month’s Night Out, we created exquisite corpse plays. This month, we’ll pose a writing challenge based on the pieces on display at the ICA for those who are interested.

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The Plan:

5p-8p
The ICA is free on Thursday evenings after 5p, so spend some time roaming the exhibits, drinking up the inspiration.

8p-11p
Join us outside, on the harbor, at the ICA’s Water Cafe. We won’t have a reserved area at the cafe like we did last month at Stoddard’s, but we’ll try to be obvious so it’s easy to find us when you get there.

……………….

The ICA is a short walk from the Silver Line Courthouse stop. There are also several large parking lots adjacent to the museum; parking usually costs about $12-15.

PLEASE RSVP — it’s helpful in our interactions with the Night Out venues if we have a good idea of the size of our group.