CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Not A Lighting Designer Or Creative Director | A Dramaturg

Business & People News content from Live Design: Often people ask about my vocation, "what do I do." Even my mother is not quite sure.

I had an occasion of realization lately, one of those perfectly tuned moments of clarity where the pattern of the weave becomes clear beyond the threads.

The shroud of mystery comes from trying to look at the threads, the process of the journey. These are the ingredients that in sum answer the question posed. But by themselves, they are deceptive, maybe even seeming like whole answers.


Taylor Steck said...

With the concept of the dramaturg being so new to American theatre, I'm always excited to see any sort of article posted on here about dramaturgy. In Foundations of Drama, we barely get a grasp on what dramaturgy is with how little time we spend studying it let alone trying to actually practice it. I also find it intriguing in this article how it actually went into the background of how Bob Bonniol, the author of the article, came to dramaturgy in the first place. I find that when speaking with the dramaturgs here that many of them came from different backgrounds like stage management or acting, and I wish that article delved into his career now and what it means to be an experimental dramaturg and how that differs from what the more conventional dramaturgs do, especially considering we're still in the age of defining what a dramaturg means in American theatre today.

Helena Hewitt said...

When I first toured at Carnegie Mellon, I was the person on the tour who didn’t know what a dramaturg was and was too nervous to ask. Since being at this school, both working with and befriending dramaturgs, I have (I hope) gained somewhat of an understanding of what they do and what they bring to the table. My first surface understanding of what dramaturgy was ran along the same lines as Mr. Bonniol’s statement “they are the academic of the text.” While the rest of us create theatre, dramaturgs study theatre. This, of course, is a somewhat superficial view of the work of a dramaturg and can lead you to view their presence and participation as unnecessary. But the author’s further explanation of the role of a dramaturg sheds infinitely more light on the value of their work, “a dramaturg's task is to provide context, perspective, and situational accuracy. They are… the hub for identifying patterns, and stitching the right points of the pattern together into context.” I feel lucky to go to a school that cultivates talented dramaturgs so that the rest of us can learn the significance of their contribution to the creation of theatre.

David Kelley said...

So to be honest I both know what a dramaturg's job for the theater as a whole but it was not really till this year that I started to actually understand what they do on any individual show. What I really like about this article though is Bob Bonniol's witty and amusing story of his meandering path through the theater industry to eventually become a dramaturg. Part of me feels that while the exact details of different people in the theater industry may be different the core theme of sort of switch jobs and responsibilities is fairly common. So seeing Bob's journey was kinda cool. That said this article brings up a good point besides what is a dramaturge? And that point to me is that it is often difficult to describe to others just exactly what we do as a member theatre community. And honestly every time I go through the process of explaining my job to others the last lines of the article "And my mother still doesn't know what I do," really ring true.