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Workshop at the Children's Theatre Company with the Director of New Play Development, Elissa Adams.

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Comment by Devyn Terry on Friday

Before this workshop, I had never heard of dramaturgy - let alone how to pronounce it. The definition of dramaturgy that I liked best was, "How is the story adapted to the stage?" In the example of Fun Home, the dramaturgy was very interesting. As I was watching the show, I noticed that Fun Home was unique in how the graphic novel aspect unfolded onstage, and how older Alison watched her own story, but I didn't realize there was a word to encompass all of that. I saw the movie Matilda once, a long time ago, so I vaguely remember the flashback parts. I agree that flashbacks tend to work better on the screen than on the stage. Since this video pointed it out, it does make more sense for Matilda to go to the library to tell the escape artist story instead of telling it through flashbacks. It was funny watching this video and every time the topic of The Bodyguard came up, everyone would start laughing. I've never seen the movie The Bodyguard, but the dramaturgy of The Bodyguard did not come across as very creative, especially in comparison to the more daring dramaturgy of Fun Home.

Comment by Maria Spack on Sunday
Dramatugy is the skeleton of a play. Without it the actors and directors would not have anything to go off of. It is how all the pieces of a story are put on stage. It was interesting listening to how plays that are adapted have less freedom while new pieces have complete freedom in how they want to be portrayed. Curious Incident was a unique example because the book itself is told in the mind of Christoper. By having his teacher narrate the story they were at risk of losing Christopher's voice. They compensated for it by reading his book. Through the story being read you get his blunt, scientific voice without being overwhelmed with it for the entire play or losing it entirely. With Cabarat the dramaturges had less feedom because it is such a well known play and everyone has an expectation of how it is. They have to almost stick to the script and not stray to far from how it has been performed in the past. When reviewing a play the way that the actors and directors work with the dramaturgy is something to be noted. If they seem not in sync with the message the dramaturge is trying to get across in the way the production was organized then we fell like there is something off.
Comment by Anika Besst on Sunday

Dramaturgy now puts a name to a step that has been in every show I've seen or been apart of. I liked her metaphor of it being the bones of the show. It is asking and finding answers to the basic but essential questions like how many acts should this show be performed in, literary elements, story structure, duration (episodic, or the whole 2 hours for the actors the same as the audience), or language being used to tell the play. Going off this metaphor of bones she called the theme, message, and story (what one takes away) the 'meat' of the show since, if dramaturgy is done correctly, that is what the show is ultimately about and being made for. It was interesting to think about how if any specific show was either made/adapted into a play instead of musical or vice versa, how it would change the message. Similar to either elongating a show or shortening it and how that would change the effect it had on viewers.

I did not realize every show we've seen has been an adaption. This is very interesting to look at since they all have been very famous, and that is probably a big part of why they are touring shows. Like Ms. Adams said a dramture's job for an existing show is much different than for a non-existing show. This plays an important part for the shows we've seen since they have much less freedom of creation if it's a prior work. However within this spectrum there's a wide range of choices each show can make. For example the King and I can make fewer choices than a show like Fun Home or Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time since there is a movie version and has been a musical for over half a century.

 I found her statement about the importance of specialization in theatre jobs true since more focused work can be accomplished. From an actor's standpoint it would be very interesting to work with a dramature since they know the history of the playwright and the show and they understand the artistic decisions but they're not necessarily making the new choices in the production.

Comment by Linnea Stanton on Monday

To me, the most important part of dramaturgy is all about choices. I never really considered the fact someone has to sit down and actively decide whether a production is going to be a play or musical, one act or five, throughout the entire creative process. I knew this all happened, but it's never really talked about. I think it's cool there is someone who's entire job is to make big, production changing decisions. I also never realized how this is different than the writer or composer or director. 

I really liked the conversation about Fun Home. It was something I noticed away when I first heard the music, that were was no intermission. I remember there was tons of talk about the fact there are three Alisons. It's interesting to think about what the musical would have been like if it were a traditional musical with a different narrator. It was also interesting to think about the difference between a new show, an adaption and a revival. For an example The King and I is written to have two acts and a very specific message, so there is less need for dramaturgy. This might be where there is more focus on shifting the choreography, costume or technical aspects to bring it to life. On the other hand, an adaptation like Fun Home requires many more choices/decisions to be made, yet there is still some structure to be followed. 

Comment by Claire Mathews-Lingen yesterday

I did not have a definition for dramaturgy before watching this, dramaturgy "Getting a play to the stage," while it is a broad definition I think it sums it up. The bones of the play. The dramaturgy first lives in the script, then the message, the setting, the story (these are the meat). The dramaturgy is the "how." 

5:33 minutes in, best part. 

There are historical dramaturgy structures, such as in Shakespeare's time when the 5 act play was typical. 

How does the dramaturgy pull out the importance of the story? I would like to think about that in my next review. Wow, almost all of the shows we've seen this year have been adaptations. 

I liked that she used passages about the shows we have seen this year. 

"Life doesn't happen in moments, but that's how we remember it sometimes," I like this thought about the storytelling of Fun Home, capturing the moments. 

Overall very interesting workshop and discussion, I thought she was good at answering questions and I liked that she was rooted in the shows we've seen this year. 

Comment by Ruby Schroeder yesterday

This was so interesting.  I had never heard of Dramaturgy before and I think I have grasped the idea of the job a Dramaturg has.  At the beginning, I was still reaching for a definition that would stick and make borders in my head of what a Dramaturg is.  When Elissa started giving examples, that's when it started to click.  As a fiction writer I'm always looking for systems to give my stories a structure so as to not have an episodic or pointless feel that is so often the case for armature or new writers.  It is cool to see that there are jobs in this field so you can be creative and productive in this way and not be a screenplay, an author, or an editor.

Comment by Talia Wendlandt 8 hours ago

It was so interesting to learn the true definition of dramaturgy, rather than simply relying on my vague ideas about it. Having the entire structure of a play perched on someone's shoulders seems too important of a role to be so often brushed over when discussing production crews of shows. Hearing Elissa speak about the differences between accenting the structure of a show that has little room for interpretation and working intimately with a playwright on a show that is still being workshopped was fascinating. Having two completely different careers stemming from the same job title is such a unique instance. When Elissa drew attention to the fact that every musical we had seen this season was an adaptation from another media, I was shocked I hadn't noticed. I think it's an importamt realization how common adaptations are in today's world because of all the musical theatre that has come before us. The way this changes dramaturgy is interesting as well because the research that can be done grows incredibly. As she brought up the inquiries about things that would have to change to make a successful show from a book or a movie or an album (Mamma Mia), I thought about the incredible feat of transferring written words to songs that could move the story along just as effectively. In the case of the Bodyguard, there were some adaptation issues within the musical, with the script specifically and it's interesting to think about what different choices could have been made to make a better musical. Overall, this workshop made me think about the power of adaptations within  theatre and the importance of people like dramaturgs who can effectively and efficiently do that. 


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