The first workshop series of Murder, We Spoke wrapped in early September, 2022. For many in the cast, this was the first time reading the series in full. There were a lot of...reactions during the workshop. Click through the Zoom chats from our closed rehearsals.
What is a Dramaturg?
Dramaturg. Dramaturge. However you choose to spell it. According to Wikipedia, a dramaturg, “Is a literary adviser or editor in a theatre, opera, or film company who researches, selects, adapts, edits, and interprets scripts, libretti, texts, and printed programs (or helps others with these tasks), consults authors, and does public relations work.”
What Does a Dramaturg do?
Being a dramaturg is quite frankly, not for the weak of heart. They hold the balance of the wants, needs, and ideas of the production with the playwright's wants, needs, and ideas for the story. They make sure the playwright’s voice is heard and the integrity of the script is preserved even if that means protecting the play from the playwright themselves.
Here is where the dramaturg earns their stripes. They confront us head-on and say, “Hey! I see where you are trying to go, but this isn’t the path.” That is exactly what happened to me during the workshop of Murder, We Spoke. Director/dramaturg/new play warrior, Lila Rachel Becker, stopped me dead in my tracks.
In fact, these conversations are only difficult if we - the playwrights - make them that way. Yes, this is your work. Yes, these are your words. Yes, you created the world. Yes, these are your characters, your story. You put in the time, talent, and imagination to write this thing…but you know what? Drafts suck. That’s why they are called “drafts.” But that isn’t a bad thing! It doesn't mean the play is bad. It doesn't mean the story shouldn’t be told. It doesn’t mean you’re NOT talented. All it means is that you got lost on your way. Now, drop your ego, admit you need help, and trust the person that wants this story told as much as you - the dramaturg.
A Playwright's Advocate
I’m really trying not to spoil anything in Murder, We Spoke, but I want to take this time to say thank you to Becker. Her ability to cut through the weeds, meet me on my path, and advocate for the best way to tell this story is invaluable to me. Under her guidance, this series is confidently stepping into its next phase of development. I can’t wait to share with you all the hard-work and brilliance of her direction and dramaturgy.
The next stage of workshops is happening in mid-October. I hope you continue on this journey with me and learn more about the amazing artists involved in Tantrum East’s Murder, We Spoke.
Learn more about Lila Rachel Becker and get her on your future production team!
One of the best pieces of advice I've received as a playwright in terms of the role of the playwright was the following, (I'm paraphrasing a little):
Other artistic collaborators, like actors and designers, must wait until they are provided an opportunity. Once actors, directors, and designers are given a script or an ensemble, then they can practice their art by interpreting the work on the page and transforming it on the stage.
Playwrights do not have to wait. The only permission we need is from ourselves to practice our art. As a result, we should use this privilege or freedom to assist our fellow artistic collaborators in flexing their interpretive muscles. After all, without them, our work dies on the page. Actors, designers, directors, dramaturges, stage managers, all of them give our work life. We owe it to them for breathing life into our words. So, we must create.
BUT...I LOVE this story. I LOVE these characters. And I want to see how far I can go. I didn't wait for someone to give me permission to start writing this podcast series. I am a creative artists and I am giving myself permission to write this podcast series - with mistakes, flaws, plot holes, missed beats, and all.
One of the best pieces of advice I can bestow upon new playwrights is to keep creating even if you think no one is watching. Playwrights at the beginning of their careers have shared with me that they stop creating after one or two plays. They then spend years advocating for this one play. They refuse to move on and stop practicing their art until this one play gets published, produced, etc... Please do not do this. Do not push aside new ideas, observations, outlines, scribbles on paper because you MUST cling to this one play. Embrace those thoughts, put pen to paper, open the laptop, and get to writing the NEXT play. Even if no one is watching. Do it for your future collaborators, but must importantly, do it for yourself.
I have no clue how to construct a podcast, let alone write a series for it. But, I'm not here to be an expert. I'm here because I have a story.
For more info on Murder, We Spoke, click here
About the Blog
I write plays. I tell stories. I create content. I vent. I offer advice. I hope people will learn from my mistakes.