Monday, October 20, 2014

Session 11: 9/24/14

Jeremy here. This has been an exciting fall expansion for the Project, to new social media (Twitter, at #opendramaturgy), and to new locations around the country. And after musing at length on here myself, I'm happy in these remaining couple of blogs for the fall to let some other voices lead the way.

From Amy Freeman, our facilitator in Philadelphia, about this week's session:

Although Philly has only had two Open Office Hours (so far), it's been interesting to see if any patterns have emerged in terms of questions people who drop by have. This past week, two people (both directors) dropped by with specific questions about research. Although the questions were along the lines of "how do I get started. . .?", the end goals of each research question and of each project were vastly different.

Our guest dramaturg, Sally, was able to find specific information in response to the first director's question, and showed it to him at the table. The next question about research required a much more fluid answer, reflecting, I think, the differences between the two projects. One person is working on a play that's been published and produced, it is in some ways already laid out. The other is working on a devised work that's in the very early stages.

The third visitor last week (who actually arrived first) was a playwright. He had specific questions about a work in progress and brought along the first 10 pages for us to read over and discuss. The writer was most concerned about changes in time (past and present) in the piece, and I think Sally and I were able to provide some decent feedback, even with just 10 pages to go on.

This past week had a decidedly different feel to the first week. The first session in Philly was additive - people came with their questions, but then stuck around to hear other people's questions and engage with the conversation. This week, there was more of an individual vibe.

Both are fine, it's just interesting to see people's working styles or preferences emerge in a casual setting.
And from Linda Lombardi, guest dramaturg at the DC location:

When Catherine invited me to be part of open dramaturgy hours, I didn’t know quite what to expect. But I wasn’t surprised when it turned out to be a night talking about plays, writers, and the different roles we play in our respective theaters. More and more theaters are hiring literary managers. It makes sense. The more theaters commit to new plays, the more of a need there is for someone on staff to coordinate all the scripts, playwrights, and agents that inevitably follow.

Over and over I've heard us called gatekeepers. But that implies something to get past. Like you need a secret password. The model Catherine and I both follow is more open. I call myself a bridge builder. She calls herself a matchmaker. Part researcher, part editor, part community organizer, our responsibilities range from script wrangling to actor packets to post-show discussions. We are, so often, the link between the rehearsal room and the audience, between the playwright and the theater. Maybe it's semantics but one model causes the writer to try and gain access while the other models are interested in building a relationship that lasts beyond one individual play. I know which one works for me.