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!