Behind the curtain: the dark arts of dramaturgy
Help the writer deliver the best play possible. Get the basics right early. Do very little for a successful show, then claim the credit. Welcome to the tricks of the dramaturg’s trade
Beowulf is the kind of show I aim to make, which achieves masterly inactivity – the holy grail of dramaturgy, where you do very little for a hugely successful show, then quietly claim the credit.
A swinging success
Swing presented a different sort of challenge. Harold Pinter, in his Nobel Prize speech channelling TS Eliot, said: “Our beginnings never know our ends.”
In Janet Moran and Steve Blount we had two of the funniest and most affecting performers in Ireland with a wealth of devising experience. To this came actor and director Peter Daly – all his cat-herding abilities were required to support the two in their work.
Steve and Janet took their dance classes for the show seriously, and took their observations into a rehearsal room and largely created the show “live”.
In this case, my job was to get them to actually do stuff; give them suggested passages of script they could cheerfully dismiss but which made them offer their own version; and work on the structure of the play, so they knew where they were in it. Towards the end, I found myself giving very few – but important – simple notes so they, and the audience, could get the best out of the show’s journey.
Gavin Kostick is the literary manager of Fishamble: The New Play Company. His most recent play is The Games People Play for Rise Productions. Fishamble is currently running a playwright and director mentorship programme in partnership with Pavilion Theatre,
Dún Laoghaire. paviliontheatre.ie