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  • Writer's pictureJason Haskins

Living in the world of dramaturgy

Updated: Jul 10

A silver laptop, open, with words on the screen. Three stickers below the keyboard (L to R): Healdsburg, CA, a red and black logo for Visual Arts Collective, a white sticker with black lettering CLIMBER U.S. 96. To the right of the laptop, a stack of books

A love of writing has been with me since my elementary years, followed by a love of history and research.

Stumbling into dramaturgy has blended perfectly these three passions.

There have been questions, as of late, what exactly the word "dramaturge" means in relation to what I do with theater productions. So, to kick-off the April edition of updates, I figured I'd provide a little insight and a brief overview.

To begin with, a look at a dramaturg does. Dramaturgs are tasked with the job to provide cast and crew of a production with knowledge, research, and interpretation about the theatrical work in question so that they are—in turn—better equipped to do their jobs.

This usually involves researching the play itself, the playwright, and often other productions. It also involves researching key points within the play and, in plays set during a specific era, taking a dive into what life was like during that time.

Research begins by reading the play and from there, leaping into the eternal void of the internet (and reading related books, as needed) to track down answers. This can include interviews about the play, historical websites, reviews, reference websites, videos, music, and so much more.

While I always did a certain amount of research in regards to my own writing, acting, and directing, my role as a dramaturge began in earnest when working on a production of The Rocky Horror Show back in 2013.

Familiar at the time with only the film version, working on this production providing an opening to learn more. And much of the cast and crew also had the limited knowledge. Some were steeply versed in the lore but much of my research involved the origin of the show, its originators, and early productions.

From there, I fell in love with the process and have worked in some capacity as dramaturg in approximately 10-12 shows since.

Outside of a love for research, the process allows me to meet a wide range of people who work on shows and learning how each approaches their craft. And it helps me as a writer, too. Though I haven't done dramaturgy work alongside a playwright as they begin a play from scratch, that is definitely something a dramaturg does as well.

And that is something to aim for, to continue to explore what it means to be a dramaturg.

Writing Updates

March was a pretty standard month of writing nearly every day and the words continued to flow on multiple projects.

The NCAA basketball tournaments got in the way somewhat but I took advantage of devoting so much time to watching basketball by writing about it.

No real updates on The Dragon Slayer, except to say pages were written in building one day closer to the conclusion being in sight.

April - Around the Treasure Valley

- On April 13, at BCT, the world premiere of The Show on the Roof (Book by Tom Ford, Music & Lyrics by Alex Syiek) opens. The show runs through May 7.

- At the Visual Arts Collective, April has a handful of events to choose from, including Off Center Dance and their A Velvet Cabaret. This show runs April 15 and 16. (Also be sure to stop in and check out Sue Latta's latest art exhibition, "Beautifully Broken".)

- The Boise State University Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing presents The SpongeBob Musical, April 6-9 at the Morrison Center.

- On April 9, The Sapphire Room at the Riverside Hotel has Michele Eastland Presents: An Evening of Ella Fitzgerald.

- Gem State Comic Con takes place on April 9 as well, at Expo Idaho.

These, as always, are simply a sampling of what is going on around the Treasure Valley.

Thanks for stopping by. Be bold. Be kind.

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