June 8. . . Midsummer, Madness, New Play Dramaturgy

June 8. . . Midsummer, Madness, New Play Dramaturgy

I meet with choreographer Paula Kramer to talk further about Madness, while still at work on the next draft, using Dana Lynn Formby’s script mapping technique, from Chicago Dramatists. And I finally get a synopsis together for Madness, a little late in the process but it’s a complex script and I’m finally getting a handle on the story.

Bob Devin Jones asks me to be the dramaturg for his outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the fall. I served as his dramaturg for Voodoo Macbeth last year. For this, dramaturgy isn’t working on structure of a new play, but research and possibilities. And for this production, trimming the script to focus on Bob’s theme of love.

Midsummer connects to Madness, so doing research for Bob will enhance that script’s development. Wrangling with director Dan Granke’s busy schedule, I’m glad to schedule the workshop of Madness for September 14-15 at The Studio@620, where we had such a lovely time workshopping Trio last year, thanks to a St Pete Arts Alliance grant.

Thanks to the Creative Pinellas Professional Artists Grant, we’ll be able to workshop Madness with 7 actors, 5 dancers, 2 onstage musicians and collaboration with visual artists. Being able to try out crucial onstage movement and transitions with a big cast and get feedback from an audience, will be a huge help.

It’s the kind of script most theatres don’t work on, with the usual music-stand reading. So the grant is the one way to really test the physicality.

City Theatre’s Summer Shorts is getting good press in Miami, with a nice mention of Duck.

This weekend, Matt’s at the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive in DC, one of 30 writers chosen from around the country. He’s taking terrific classes from great teachers including Gary Garrison, and getting wonderful ideas.

And I’m taking an online New Play Dramaturgy class from PlayPenn in Philadelphia, with Michele Volanksy, who’s amazing and has a ton of experience. The other students are all interesting folk doing interesting work and surprisingly, I’m one of only a handful of playwrights taking the class.

Michele shares good questions to ask – and to answer – when working on a play. She reminds us that everything in a script – the wording, the lighting, a small prop – is there for a reason. That’s a good thing to remember when writing scripts. . . everything’s important, so take out anything that isn’t.

As Michele says, “Where a play is living at this moment, and where it wants to go, is New Play Dramaturgy.” How do you help it get where it needs to be? Good skills for all the dramaturges in the room, and especially for me.

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