I am a writer, live artist and performance maker based in Nottingham. This blog will host my research for a PhD at Loughborough University exploring the role of the dramaturg. The central research questions will be ‘What is the role of a dramaturg today?’ and ‘How does it function in a landscape that is becoming increasingly defined by a lack of text or conventional structures or theatrical tradition?’ The study asks how dramaturgs perform a function that sits somewhere between critic, writer, artist, maker and witness. The project draws upon my own experience as a dramaturg and as a playwright and maker working with a dramaturg. It asks what an ‘outside eye’ adds to the creative process and how it catalyses. I will intersperse my critical analysis with interviews with practitioners and creative reflections on my work as a dramaturg.
I will move through a study of conventional dramaturgical practice that is primarily building-based with reference to the role Theatre Writing Partnership plays at Nottingham Playhouse and Joerg Vorhaben at Oldenburgisches Staatstheater. I will address the role of a dramaturg in an academic context with reference to David Williams’ work with Lone Twin and Uninvited Guests. I will look at A. Smith working with the ‘conceptual dramatist’ Tim Crouch and how he enables an objective viewpoint of participatory work. I will examine the history of dramaturgy in contemporary dance by exploring the relationship between Raimond Hogue and Pina Bausch and more recently, Bill Aitchison and Ivana Muller. Both Hogue and Aitchison are artists in their own right and I will ask how their work as dramaturgs informs their own work as makers.
The doctoral study will proceed through my practice as research as a current dramaturg with various artists including Reckless Sleepers, Hetain Patel, Gabriele Reuter and Henrietta Hale and interviews with artists and academics currently working as dramaturgs about the role they play as well as artists and companies on why they do or do not work with a dramaturg. Following a project at the Southbank Centre, I have continued dialogues with choreographers and programmers about why they work with dramaturgs. Often, these dialogues manifest themselves online and in future publications. This is the starting point.