IS THE ROLE OF THE DRAMATURG / LITERARY MANAGER A PROFESSION IN ITS OWN RIGHT AND SHOULD IT BE RECOGNISED MORE WIDELY AS THAT IN THE UK?
convened by Suzanne Bell
➢ People criticise Literary Managers and Dramaturges from many perspectives – criticised by theatres, writers, practitioners, media – but none seem to realise what they really do.
➢ Why are they seen as the gatekeepers rather than the people who ultimately champion work?
➢ The UK has a romantic notion of the writer as the genius in the attic who produces the masterpiece in isolation – how do we break that? Does playwriting come up from the street / can it be developed?
➢ It is a culturally specific role – is it an adjunct to the director or does it perform triage for the theatre – so that only specific cases get through to the director
➢ The dramaturg can help make the play work – but should they?
➢ The tradition is anti-English – anti-romantic – in England the tradition is still that theatre happens rather than is made
➢ Does the dramaturg make the play a play a director will want to direct
➢ Today the role of the dramaturg can be independent and help develop the plays independently with the writer
➢ But ultimately who does the person work for? If they are a Literary Manager, do they work for the writer, theatre, artistic director, area
➢ Look at the food chain – why is it predominantly women who do the role – because it is low power role – ameliorate inequality – can you bring these marginalised writers into the mainhouse – it depends on the LM’s relationship with the Artistic Director / it depends on the work?
➢ Confusion about the structure of the role in a theatre – is the dramaturg a co-director // does the dramaturg work for the theatre // can dramaturges hire directors
➢ In the regions it can be about helping the development of a theatre culture in that region – developing work for across the region (not just for a specific theatre) / developing sustainable careers for writers / developing opportunities for writers
➢ Freelance dramaturges can challenge the model of building-based dramaturges and can create a more independent model. There is a thriving area in the sector. Dramaturges are frequently used in dance.
➢ Writers are sometimes anxious about collaborative work – they see it as unnecessary. They see the role of the actor as someone who reacts – but this is a calcified model that can not work?
➢ Old-fashioned notion of the “Playwright” – David Hare / Stoppard – this is an old-fashioned box – but what is a contemporary “playwright”
➢ In Russia the Dramaturg is often the playwright
➢ Scandinavian model – responsible for / to the theatre – also involved in developing audiences and putting on productions
➢ In the West there is no tradition of dramaturges which is systematic of the crisis in arts funding
➢ There is a gap – quality control – are dramaturges policing the work – should they – the popularity of devised work – often really needs a dramaturg
➢ There has to be control – but is the dramaturg responding to other people’s control – what are the models of that control?
➢ Why is dramaturgy so focused on the writing aspect of plays rather than the creation of theatre? Or is that a perception that doesn’t reflect the reality?
➢ Does it service or police art – or is it art itself?
➢ How do you critique the system within which you work – if you are employed by a theatre is one of your roles as a dramaturg to critique the theatre to make sure they are always on their toes?
➢ Has the dramaturg got to be their own producer? – there is a huge sector of this in the country that is being ignored. If you look at the influence of festivals and work like LIFT in terms of opening up ideas of contemporary theatre making and dramaturgy has been seen to be particularly useful in these areas such as dance / site-specific work / cross-disciplinary work
➢ You can not (and should not) narrow things down to one thing
➢ Are you getting your own work (assisting / supporting / clarifying) in the creation of new work?
➢ Why do we even ask this question – we are put in a position (not powerful or independent) where we feel the need to question our role
➢ As a director your approach is completely different than as a dramaturg – as someone who has done both as well as playwriting – they are three distinct, different roles
➢ It is about POWER and ECONOMICS
➢ A Director (Artistic Director) under pressure will look to re-absorb roles (back into the writer / director) – roles that might be vital but are discrete so easily dispensable.
➢ Is the profession relegating these professions?
➢ What other models can be look at, used and developed to place the dramaturg rightfully in the work?