My attendance of the festival was mandatory for my application for the LMDA/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award to be considered for the regional award. I was excited for the workshops and teaching of Lenora Inez Brown, a Chicago-based dramaturg who is head of the department of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at The Theatre School of DePaul University. She is also extremely accomplished, having worked not only at the Kennedy Center, but also the Goodman, the Steppenwolf, and the Sundance Theatre Labs. I guess you could say her resume's not too shabby. The information she impressed upon the dramaturgs in the few days we had with her concerned critical thinking, how to ask open questions, and writing diplomatic notes to directors--aspects I had hardly considered during my work on 'Art.' Here are just a few of the bullet points I've pulled from my notes:
- Go from general to specific. You can make specific become general. But keep the big picture in mind.
- Create questions for fruitful exploration.
- Focus on the facts instead of opinion or interpretation.
- An incomplete moment in a script is not the source of the problem. The source or problem comes before that moment.
- Make notes rehearsal-hall friendly (with language that is achievable and includes action rather than scholarly). Write them to promote discussion in an objective way that does not direct the director.
While the week has certainly not discouraged my interest and eagerness for dramaturgy, I naturally found myself wishing I could join the actors. And I did a few times in workshops on networking, working as a professional actor, and one on avant-garde techniques. During the latter, I shared a woo-woo actor moment of trust and vulnerability and forgiveness with a total stranger, who I am now desperately trying to hunt down on facebook. I love working with people I don't know. There are no preconceptions and there is nothing to mistrust. It's a blank slate to build upon and I am most comfortable to explore with people who don't expect a certain behavior from me. The workshop about working as a professional actor with actress Marguerite Hannah was a big wake-up call for my lazy ass to get moving (as was the state of my bank account by the end of the week). I intend to take the suggestion from the networking workshop with Michael Legg, Director of the Apprentice/Intern Company of the Actor's Theatre of Louisville to keep office hours to set aside a defined time to work. (I also had the pleasure to audition for Mr. Legg. Audition Journal post is next on my agenda) When I get home I have the following list of tasks:
- Applications, applications, applications
- Williamstown Theatre Festival Apprenticeship
- Wooly Mammoth Literary Management Internship
- Actor's Theatre of Louisville Literary/Dramaturgy Internship
- Georgia Shakes
- Dallas Shakes
- Shakespeare Tavern
- American Shakespeare Center
- Expand monologue repertoire
- Read NY Times theatre section daily
- Subscribe to American Theatre
- Print headshots
- Read plays. All the time.
While I didn't walk away with an award, I did end up with a much clearer understanding of dramaturgy and a very exciting reminder that I have a terrible case of the acting bug. Obviously, none of this was quite as good as touring the NASCAR racetrack. But we all knew that.