This weekend opened the UNC Charlotte’s New Works Festival in collaboration with the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. The Paperbag Princess, Michelle Long’s adaptation of Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko’s 1980 children’s book, is a play for young audiences about a princess who loses everything to a dragon apocalypse, defeats said dragon in order to rescue her finance from certain death, and returns to her paper bag castle newly single but content in the knowledge that she’s an incredible bad-ass. It sounds sweet, and it is sweet — until you see the book’s illustrations. Because when the dragon destroyed the princess’s kingdom, he killed everyone and everything, including the horses.
Originally posted on Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy:
Great news! Magda Romanska has allowed LMDA to post her Dramaturgy Handbook . What a terrific resource! Enjoy!
Download it here: Madga Romanska’s Dramaturgy Handbook for Emerson
Dr. Romanska is Associate Professor of Theatre and Dramaturgy at Emerson College in Boston, MA, and Research Associate at Harvard University’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. She is a recipient of the Aquila Polonica Article Prize and the Gerald Kahan Scholar’s Prize. A former exchange scholar at the Yale School of Drama and fellow at the Mellon School of Theatre and Performance Research at Harvard University, Romanska graduated with honors from Stanford and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University.
I’m looking forward to posting guest blogger Caroline Cay Adams’s thoughts on Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. Caroline is a senior theatre major here at UNC-C, a star dramaturgy student, and student dramaturg for UNC Charlotte’s production. In the meantime, visit her Tumblr blog, a space where she will post image research and other dramaturgical material.
Michael Chemers’s Ghost Light: an Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy includes exercises he calls “Go long!” and “Go wide!” reinforcing the dramaturg’s dual research tasks–to investigate the specific historical context of the play in question, and to place the play into broader social and political contexts. This fall I begin work as the mentor for student production dramaturg Caroline Cay Adams for Robin Witt’s UNC Charlotte Spring 2014 production of Sarah Kane’s 2000 play, 4.48 Psychosis. 4.48 is Kane’s final play, one that is often interpreted as an announcement of her (then) recent suicide.
In the interest of Going Long!, I have collected books and articles about Kane’s plays (I’m currently enjoying Graham Saunders’s excellent feminist reading of Kane in the collected essays, Thatcher & After, Ed. Louisa Hadley and Elizabeth Ho). I’m reading interviews Kane gave. I’ll also read plays by writers who influenced Kane, such as Edward Bond and Howard Brenton.
AGA has completed and shown a draft of their work-in-progress for an invited audience. As much as a dramaturg might want to offer opinions about “what is (not) working,” it’s usually not helpful at this point in a new works process. Counterintuitive as this might seem, my job is to revisit the artists’ original vision for the work, to remind them (even indirectly) of the questions that guided them to this point, and to ask questions. A first step toward this is to present the artists with some images in response to the work I’ve been seeing.
AGA’s piece is shaped by the technologies the dancers use in order to compose new works–personal computers, the Internet, et cetera. This response to contemporary technologies combines with AGA’s use of close proximity as a choreographic score to conjure Marcel DuChamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2″ (1912), the Armory Show piece the artist himself described as influenced by chronophotography, film, and other “now” technologies of the artist’s time:
When they are not in residence at UNC Charlotte, AGA Collaborative plans and composes across geographic distance. For eleven months of the year, the things and systems of communication technology we take for granted in our everyday lives–cell phones, Internet connections, computers, and cameras–are AGA’s essential compositional tools. For the past ten days, Alison, Gretchen, and Amanda have been together in one studio, building a piece from the work they have done from individual studios and shared virtual spaces.
On Wednesday, AGA showed a draft of their work-in-progress for an invited audience, presenting a 30-minute piece of choreographic phrases and group tasks fueled by their embodied exploration of intimacy and collaboration across distance. Incorporating technology into their current piece has been frustrating: will setting up the camera and projector each day eat away at studio time? (It does.); will the technology fail onstage? (On Wednesday, yes, of course it did.)
I have watched the presence of technology in the studio transform from a frustration to a productive working condition. The piece is becoming less about technology as a necessity for composing and creating across distance, and more about the extremities and limits of technologies as dance partners. As in AGA’s first piece, Like a turtle without a shell, or crow’s feet, onstage objects are hailed as subjects through the attention the dancers give them. AGA’s “aesthetic of care” is combining with its intermedial explorations to honor the work technology does on behalf of their dance.