Teaching Students About Dramaturgy
Dramaturgy is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of theatre education. It involves understanding the structure, themes, and context of a play or performance, serving as the underpinning foundation of any staged work. Teaching students about dramaturgy can help them gain a richer, more profound appreciation of theatre arts, from playwriting to acting, directing and beyond.
The first step in teaching dramaturgy is to introduce the concept. Dramaturgy explores how plays are built and investigates their thematic coherence, historical context, and cultural significance. It can involve everything from researching the period when a play was written to analyzing its characters’ motivations. This multifaceted discipline is not limited to a single theatrical element but encompasses multiple aspects that culminate in a comprehensive understanding of performance art.
When teaching dramaturgy, interactive exercises that allow students to engage directly with dramatic texts are highly effective. Have them dissect script sections and identify character arcs, plot development, and thematic exploration. A group discussion on these elements will deepen their understanding of the material while encouraging critical thinking.
It’s also crucial that students learn the role of a dramaturg. This behind-the-scenes champion of storytelling delves into research to enrich every aspect of a production. A helpful exercise here could be exposing students to different theoretical performances and having them investigate how a dramaturg might contribute to each piece.
Understanding the historical context where specific pieces were created provides students with an enriched perspective on such works. Engage them in researching significant periods in stage history and analyze how these influence various performances or scripts.
Supplement their education by exposing them to diversely different works – both contemporary and classical. This amplifies their ability to connect various themes present throughout centuries while accommodating differing storytelling methods.
When teaching dramaturgy strategies, place emphasis also on practical applications like writing program notes for plays or facilitating post-show talks – tasks a working dramaturg might take on. Having students curate hypothetical “dramaturgical packets” for certain productions will give them a more hands-on experience of what being a dramaturg entails.
Lastly, invite professionals in the field for Q&A sessions; this will provide real-world insights into dramaturgy’s evolving landscape while inspiring burgeoning interests within your students.
Teaching dramaturgy involves more than just teaching about theatre; it teaches about history, culture, psychology, philosophy – all seen through the lens of stage performances. By laying down this foundation early in their theatre arts education, we’re shaping not just well-rounded performers or directors but insightful critical thinkers who can appreciate theatre’s essential depth and complexity.