Walking the Tightrope Blog Post #1: What in the world is a dramaturg??
Welcome! My name is Erin Davis and I am the dramaturg for Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of Walking the Tightrope! Walking the Tightrope is a collaboration between Wheelock and Boston University’s School of Theatre! I am a current junior Theatre Arts major at Boston University. I’m originally from Georgia; but I currently live in the Boston area. As the dramaturg on this project, I will be using this space to highlight our incredible team that is working so hard (and having a great time) to put the show together, take you behind the scenes of our process, and offer some extra insight on the world of Walking the Tightrope.
But first, you may be asking yourself…what in the world is a dramaturg?? I meet you with: I ask myself that every day. Technically, dramaturgy is usually defined as the study of dramatic composition and dramatic theory. Dramaturgs work with the director, actors, and creative team in contextualizing the play. But still, what does that all mean??? I sat down with my roommate and fellow dramaturg, McKayla Witt, to brainstorm. We decided on this: dramaturgs are constantly playing a very intense game of connect the dots. We ask questions, we draw the connections, and we color in the beautiful picture given to us by the playwright with our outside knowledge. We then are able to put the beautiful artwork in a frame, that is given to us by the director and crafted for us by the design team. And when all of that has come together, we give our picture to the actors and through them, the audience. When all is said and done, we hope that it fills everyone it meets with excitement and encourages them to ask more questions, especially the ones we didn’t think to ask ourselves.
Image 1: Me (age 5) and my Granny watching the circus in Marietta, Georgia.
Image 2: On the Merry-Go-Round with Granny (and Spiderman)!
Dramaturgs are always asking questions and searching for stories to answer them. We research and fit our findings together in all different kinds of ways. When I first read a script, I color all over it. Highlighter, pen, pencil, markers; all kinds of things. My scripts are always scribbled on, with the backs of the pages filled with images, songs, other things that the text reminds me of, or questions that I have. I love being a dramaturg because in my work, I am always given the chance to research and learn about things I have yet to encounter and reflect upon the things I know, from personal experience or past research. When I first read Walking the Tightrope, I was reminded of memories from when my grandparents would take my cousins and I to the circus that would come through our town every year. I wrote down a little note about how they would always buy us popcorn and cotton candy, which we forgot to eat because we were too busy watching the acts! I have loved getting the chance to learn from this team and from this project, and I can’t wait to share more with y’all here as the process goes on!
P.S. Next week, you will get to meet our wonderful Stage Management team!