Dramaturg Gone Rogue!

Published September 1, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

I made it through my first week of class! My class is going well and I think it is going to be a fun semester.

On another note, this dramaturg has gone rogue. I think I mentioned before that I am playing Gary Coleman in my U’s production of Ave Q. We begin rehearsals….TOMORROW. I am excited about the process but its been a REALLY LONG TIME since this dramaturg has done any performing (not including the performance of teaching). It should be fun and I always enjoy stepping into other artistic roles on occasion, I think it helps make me a better dramaturg.

On Wednesday, I head back to Chicago to finish up my rehearsal process on The Mountaintop. I am looking forward to seeing how the show has developed since I left. I also just miss all the folks I have worked with on this process.

Well, I have lots to do before tomorrow. Hope everything is well in the land of you!

The Mountaintop – Court Theatre – Week 1

Published August 11, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

So, we are getting close to the end of the first week of rehearsals for The Mountaintop at the Court Theatre in Chicago. Its been a fun time! I think the most fun part of this rehearsal process thus far, for me, has been getting to know the people on the show and getting to share information that we have gathered as a group to prepare for rehearsals.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall, is a fictionalized account of the last day of Martin Luther King, Jr. Its an amazing show but has been met with both praise and condemnation because of its characterization of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have been able to obtain some really fun things over the past few months. For example, I contacted the lovely gentlemen in Special Collections at the U of Memphis and received access to some of the radio reports to listen to from the day before, and day of, MLK, Jr. Assassination. In addition, I have been in contact with the National Civil Rights Museum’s Education Department in order to obtain information about room 306 at the Lorraine Motel and about the identity of some of the people in the periphery of the legendary photos (Thanks ABC.com) taken at the time of MLK, Jr.’s assassination. Also, I have been in contact with Gavin Witt at Centerstage Theatre since they did this show recently and have a wealth of knowledge because Centerstage is awesome in terms of all things dramaturgy related.

The beginning exploration of the characters of this show has been fun to watch evolve. The actors in the show are having fun merging the historical nature of the play with the fictional events Hall has crafted for this play’s story.  Plus, Ron OJ Parson is a dream to work with as a director. He loves dramaturgs and really appreciates their presence. I always jump on the opportunity to work with him!

Right now, I am in playbill copy writing madness! (Yep, I should be writing that instead of this right now). I have to admit that I am struggling a bit with one of the things I am writing. I am actually hoping that writing this blog post will help me get the creative writing juices going!

Anyway, I should probably get back to work! I hope things are going well in the land of you!


Processing Yesterday……

Published July 14, 2013 by Artaud

I was thinking of what to write today. There are several dramaturgy related projects that I am working on today. I am spending some time working on things for the Houston Brazilian Festival and then working on the actor packet and my protocol for The Mountaintop at the Court (rehearsals begin in Aug).

However, I feel the need to begin with an acknowledgement of the verdict in the Zimmerman case. Dramaturgically, something is wrong with this case, the trial, etc. If we examine this from a story perspective – we have two separate and contradictory elements running concurrently (if we were to treat this narrative as a play). 

One version of the overarching story says that a person is allowed to “protect” oneself and one’s neighborhood by any means necessary (i.e. – use of deadly force against another). Another version of this story says that one is innocent until proven guilty.

It seems as though these stories could work in tandem, but this is a little off kilter in this case. Zimmerman used deadly force to protect himself and his neighborhood. However, we are missing the flip-side of this story. Martin was not allowed to protect himself and his neighborhood from a would-be attacker (if we look at Zimmerman as the person who was the stranger in this case) by any means necessary since, in the end, his life was taken and the fact that he may have used physical force to protect himself was part of the reason that his killer walked free. He may have been a visitor to the neighborhood, but since he was a MINOR, visiting his father and his father’s fiancee, doesn’t that make that neighborhood his home too?

Returning to the other story that seems to be running contradictory, Zimmerman is supposed to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty. I am curious, however, how Martin was not afforded that same respect. Before and during the time Zimmerman was on trial for this murder, Martin became the victim of a smear campaign. I say this in order to establish that Martin had to be viewed as “guilty” of something in order to prove Zimmerman’s innocence. Yes, I know, “reasonable doubt” is at play here in finding Zimmerman innocent, but I am worried about the “story/stories” we are illustrating in this “play” (to continue with the analogy) by finding Zimmerman innocent. Does that mean that ANYONE walking down the street at night who may, or may not, decide to glance in a window has to worry about confrontation and possible death that ends in their killer walking free?

Anyway, I would encourage all of my dramaturgical friends to take a look at the narrative that has played out and let me know if I am off with my dramaturigical assessment of this narrative. I also realize that this analysis may seem very one-sided. But to be honest, I have very few dramaturgical questions about Zimmerman’s side of this, but I do have more about Martin’s (especially since by virtue of his death, he cannot tell his side of the story).

Anyway, love to hear what you all are thinking out there……

2 week excursion

Published July 10, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to give an update on my two week traveling extravaganza now that I am back home. So, the second part of my trip, after leaving Vancouver, was spent with family and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I saw some really interesting new work while I was there and a beautiful “classic” ( I am saying that in terms of the African American theatre canon). I saw productions of The Liquid Plain, The Unfortunates, and Two Trains Running. This is terrible, but seeing these shows made me realize it has been a while since I went to go see some shows that had nothing to do with work. I have seen quite a few shows over the past 12 months but it has mostly had to do with work.

Anyway, all of these production appealed to me in varying ways. I loved the inventiveness and boundary pushing that The Unfortunates provided, the “freshness” of new play process as seen in The Liquid Plain, and just some beautiful language as provided by Two Trains Running. And, as always, the productions at OSF are always spectacular on all fronts.

I would recommend any of you (or all of you) getting out there and seeing some shows if you have the resources! It will be worth it!

Until next time….

LMDA 2013 – Vancouver

Published June 30, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

So, for the past few days I have been in Vancouver, BC for the 2013 Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas Conference. This has been an amazing experience. I have to admit, I am a little ashamed that this is my first conference. I have been a member for YEARS now but for one reason or another I have never made it to the conference.

So, a report! I had a great time meeting fellow dramaturgs whose names I have heard of, or I have interacted with via email or social media but never actually met in person. Plus, it was nice to see some fellow dramaturgs I have not seen in a while!

The conversations where amazing:

I went to a panel that was co-hosted by another theatre related conference in town. It still amazes me the prejudice against dramaturgs that exists in both American and Canadian theatre. I have to admit, this makes no sense to me. I feel that our job is to support the playwright, director and the production – where is the threat in that? I also found out that a playwright (who shall remain nameless, to protect the ignorant) feels that dramaturgs are “fashion challenged” and are not (essentially) smart enough to work on his plays. (Apparently, he has not met me ;-p).

Also, conversations about the future of dramaturgy (creative producing), what students need to know to become dramaturgs, etc. have been inspiring, refreshing, frightening, and many other adjectives.

Anyway, this was a great experience and I am now looking forward to the next one. YAY BOSTON 2014! Ok, I need to run off for the last day of the conference!

If you are interested in the organization, want to learn more, or need a dramaturg for a project, please visit LMDA. Or, feel free to email me!

Cheers, everyone

Romeo and Juliet’s Got A Gun

Published May 21, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

So, what is new in the land of me. After an initial cut using the Folio as a base text, I am now in the process of modernizing the text and incorporating the Folio punctuation into this modernized script. This is taking some time (as usual) but it will get done. I have decided that this is my project for the week so I hope to report by Friday that I am done with that and preliminary formatting. I think I am going to leave off the line numbers until I have the cuts back from the director.

Oh, I guess I should mention, this is for the production the U of Utah is doing in the Spring of next school year. Should be fun….

Until next time…..

Comedy of Errors

Published May 17, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

And thus the process begins of getting myself together for all the projects of the next few months. This week, I have worked on scanning and cleaning up a version of Comedy of Errors for January. Now, Comedy is going to go on the back burner for a few weeks. I have some plays I need to read and comment on. After that, Mountaintop. More details soon. Hope all is well in the lands of you….

Last Class of My 1st Year In Utah

Published April 25, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

Quite a bit has happened since the last time I posted. So, here is the run-down.

1) Today I taught my last class of the semester/academic year. I learned a lot about myself as an educator and as working professional over this past year. I am very thankful for the U of Utah and my department for being so supportive of me and what I attempted to accomplish this academic year. I feel as though I had plenty of successes and failures while teaching and I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I know and to help cultivate the next generation of theatre artists. I am looking for year 2 of 2. I am hoping to continue to grow.

2) This is semi-official but I am concluding my time as the Resident Lit Mgr for the Classical Theatre Company. It has been a fun 5-ish years but it was time to move on. I needed to make way for the person who could be there in the way that CTC needs and I need to find my own way in the new life I am in the process of creating for myself. Do not worry, Houstonians, I will always find a way and reason to wander back that way.

3) I am still working on R&J. The cut is taking me longer than I would have hoped but it is getting there.

More Soon…..

Catching Up

Published April 15, 2013 by Artaud

Hello Everyone,

Apparently, this is the day I decided to catch up on all my blogging. I just did a mad posting session on PhD Nails. Now it is time to catch up with the dramaturgy/teaching blog.

What is going on in the world of me? Well, I had my mentor and dramaturgy legend, Lue Douthit,  here at the U of Utah a few weeks ago to talk to the department and our students. It was super good to have her here. I feel like so much time always passed in between seeing her.

I also had another friend out here, Scott Kaiser, a voice and text legend, too for a whole (maybe) 24 hours. It was so nice to see him too. I miss the OSF peeps.

I am currently working on quite a few projects. I am running a talkback for Spring Awakening, here at the U of Utah on Friday. Also, Dollhouse, which I did some dramaturgy consulting for at Stages Rep is still running. Go see these shows if you happen to be in SLC or Houston!

I am also working on a draft of an R&J Script for the U of Utah this week. Well, I hope to be done with it by the end of the week. We shall see how that goes. 😉

Also, I have a few secret projects up my sleeve ( I never reveal my secrets until the contract is signed 😉 ). I promise, I will say more as soon as they are set in stone.

Anyway, teaching life is good. The end of the semester is sneaking up on me. On Wed, I will have a week left of classes (CRAZY!). My first year here at the U of Utah is wrapping up!! This experience has been a blessing!

I am looking forward to next semester as I try to get into gear for it. My second year (and last year) of my Fellowship will probably go super fast.

OK. More soon…..