I’m in a strange but enjoyable position at the moment. As I’m taking my first class on dramaturgical methods, I’m working as the dramaturg on Boston University’s production of Stephen Berkoff’s Metamorphosis, which started rehearsals this past Tuesday. This is the second show where I’ve had the title of ‘dramaturg,’ and the first where I feel I’m stepping into the role. I’m finding this dual experience of learning to be an effective dramaturg enlightening; rehearsals are teaching me how to be grounded in the production and how to make myself as useful as possible, while class is giving me the technical skills and helping me discover working frameworks to proceed.
I’ve always loved the process of theatre; I fell in love with rehearsals and design meetings in high school. Until last spring, I identified primarily as a stage manager. I love being in rehearsal for the moments of discovery, and being a facilitator to that process. Because of my background, the rehearsal hall feels familiar, but I’m still working on finding my footing in the design process. So once rehearsal started up, I suddenly felt I had come home. I’m present in a different role, but in realizing how comfortable rehearsals feel to me, I realized how much more there is to learn about the pre-rehearsal process.
In our table work so far, I’ve been struck by how often I am enjoyably redundant (something I never experienced as a stage manager; relaxed enjoyment of the rehearsal hall wasn’t part of my experience). I’ve been happy to find the moments where I don’t need to say anything, because my ‘insight’ has come to someone else as well. Moments like this remind me of a phrase used by Scott Irelan and Anne Fletcher in The Process of Dramaturgy. They emphasize that titled dramaturgs are far from the only collaborators skilled in “committing acts of dramaturgy.”
When I initially read their work, I only understood this phrase in connection with the work of designers and directors, but the process of Metamorphosis has taught me that actors are practiced in actions of dramaturgy as well. I love the moments where there is no need for me to speak, or even better, the moments where someone gives me new insight into the play.
May I propose a toast: cheers for collaboration. Here’s to teaching each other new things. Here’s to loving not having a monopoly, and when others do your job at least as well as you. Here’s to learning!