“I get worried when we talk about protecting the playwright… I don’t know what that means. If I’m being protected from Ben Brantley, that’s one thing. If I’m being protected from dramaturgs, that scares me because my entire career is based on the love and care of good dramaturgs. And if I’m being protected from audiences that’s horrifying. … What I want is to write a play and I want you guys to produce it. And actually I don’t really care if you’re mean, or even if you try to steal all my money (because I assume you should try to do that and I should fight back and we should argue”
-Michael Friedman, In the Intersection
This quote started me off on a long journey of thinking. To start it let me think about preconceived notions of who I think is my friend and my enemy in the theatre. It then made me think of what my relationship to my own work needs to be. This string of thoughts went on and on until I was exhausted, but here are a handful of observations I made about myself as an artist.
At the beginning the first thing I noticed was that, as an artist, I don’t have real enemies. There will be plenty of people I won’t agree with in the world, but they are not my enemies. There will be people who are doing theatre that I think is not serving the world, but they are not my enemies. There will even be people that are doing theatre that I think is hurting the world, but they are still not my enemies. They are simply people I disagree with, but I don’t need to work with them. If they are someone I disagree with and I need to work with them, I just need to be brave and advocate for the work I find important.
I also spent a good amount of time thinking about my role as a dramaturg. Sure, this is a fledgling part of me as an artist, but it has quickly become one of the most important. All semester I have been trying to think of an apt definition for what a dramaturg is. While this definition will surely change, I now see my dramaturg self as a friend to the arts. It is my job to support it, be there to give it what it needs, and to care deeply about each project I work on. It is my job to love the art before me, even when it is difficult.
The final thing I realized is that my future will be decided by self-advocating and being brave. I need to approach this career fearlessly… or with a great deal of courage. I need to face the fact that the structures that are in place are not built to help me, they are not always there to help me. If I don’t like the structure, fight to make a new one. The most important thing I can do is stay true to myself as an artist, and do what I can to see that art realized.
So I have a lot to think about… and chances are my ideas today will be completely shifted in the next 6 months. But at this point, I feel good… I mean I feel REAL GOOD. Im ready to tackle to world ahead of me and do what I love.