A dramaturg is someone who reads plays and musicals and does an analysis of the texts to help convey messages and historical context to the cast as well as the audience. In November, I worked as the dramaturg for “Life Is a Dream,” the theater department show at Conn. I came on board in September. Most of the work I did early on was independent research, but I went to some early rehearsals when I was able to go. The show was written by Pedro Calderon de la Barca in 1635, the Spanish Golden Age. My initial research about the time period uncovered themes that were also present in the production–the basic themes of which involve religious ideals, honor and the role of women.
Later, I began to go to some rehearsals that involved the full cast to see what the actors were doing and to give comments. I also attended the FLAC (Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum) sections of the course, which incorporated Spanish into the production with the help of professor Luis González from the Hispanic Studies department. Having a professor who had a new perspective on the show was helpful both to me and the cast. I was able to meet with him to get more ideas and feedback on the work I was doing.
I also shared some of the work with the cast members to help them better understand the world of the play and other themes while they shared nuances of the characters and plot with me. I learned a lot more about the show and the Spanish Golden Age then I would have otherwise. Lastly, I worked on the lobby display area of Tansil Theater, the black box theater on campus. I selected a few paintings from the time period to get the audience into the world of the show. For the performance, I wrote up a short pamphlet about the show to give audience members a peek into my research and explain some of my choices.
Following the show, a number of people reached out and told me that they really appreciated what I wrote and that it helped them understand the play better, which was exactly what I hoped would happen. I realized that being a dramaturg was the part of theater that I was not getting from acting alone, and while I enjoy acting, working as a dramaturg allowed me to explore more of the world of the play than ever before.