Thursday, October 27, 2011
A cabal for all
You’ve heard of a murder of crows, a gaggle of geese and a pride of lions. I think a cabal of dramaturgs describes us nicely, don’t you? Dramaturgs together make for a disparate group, but they tend to have one important thing in common — a talent for bilocation. Because we stand inside the artistic process as well as outside it, frequently we’re able to hold on to a detached sense of perspective that the theater really, really needs. If you ax me.
That’s why the fabulous Kate Bredeson (theater prof @ Reed College) and I are hosting an informal dramaturgs’ town hall this January, during the Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival. This city-wide celebration of original work for the stage is a kaleidoscopic array of spanking new performances, a good chunk of them created just for those crazy 10 days and nights. It’s been a boon for theater folk and theater audiences both, since at this point (2012’s fest is the fourth already), many theaters are launching into new work specifically to leverage the visibility Fertile Ground can offer them.
Playwrights and dramaturgs have been gaining ascendancy in Portlandia for years now. Some of the city’s most interesting companies have literary components helping to set their artistic agendas, including Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Rep and Artists Repertory Theatre. Playwriting groups are flourishing, some which have intriguing dramaturg/producer components. Commissioning is quietly blossoming (more about that in weeks to come). And certain smaller companies have been quick to add the dramaturg job description to their development processes — sometimes, avowedly, without much idea of what their dramaturgs were actually supposed to be doing for them!
Perhaps, then, it’s a good time for a gathering of the tribes. For us to discuss whether there are ways we can better help drive artistic platforms, rather than those platforms driving us.
If this interests you, Kate and I invite you to attend this meeting when January rolls around. Details are below. Questions? Hail me at mead hunter at juno dot com — if you’re not a spambot (and I’m sure you’re not), just close up the spaces in my address and we’re in touch.
Reed College presents
A DRAMATURGS’ TOWN HALL MEETING
Hosted by Kate Bredeson and Mead Hunter
Venue: Reed College mainstage theater, 3203 SE Woodstock Boulevard
Festival Date: Jan 22, 2012 @ 2 pm
Tickets: Event is free and open to the public
More information: directions to Reed's theater here.
Why not admit it, dramaturgs are the unsung heroes of new play development; their ideas and their connections often provide the impetus to kick-start original theater projects. Since Portland is fast becoming known as a hotbed of new work, where do we, as dramaturgs, fit into this changing topography? How can we encourage, support and even initiate innovative developments? In this informal meeting, we’ll attempt to map the new play territory locally and nationally and then brainstorm ways to pursue a proactive theater agenda.
Whether you’re a career dramaturg, an occasional practitioner, a new play stakeholder or just curious about the profession of dramaturgy, you are very welcome at this meeting.