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Student Blog: Dramaturgy and Why I'm Afraid to Ask For The Seat at the Table I Know I Deserve (Part 2)

A look at what's changed for me dramaturgically since the last production I've worked on, for better or for worse.

Student Blog: Dramaturgy and Why I'm Afraid to Ask For The Seat at the Table I Know I Deserve (Part 2) As many of you know, I've been working as a dramaturg in college for a while now. It's something I really enjoy working on but I've also been through a couple of identity crises when it comes to figuring out what my future might look like. Last year, I posted a blog about my experience dramaturging a specific show during the fall and how the process was traumatic and forced me to look at myself very deeply. Since that experience, I've had a lot of validating experiences with dramaturgy and I thought that maybe the blog needed a bit of a positive update.

I will start out by saying that the theatre department where I attend school has problems. Just like every other theatre department in America, there are issues so deeply engrained in the culture of academic theatre that we will probably never be able to get rid of them. I'm not overlooking any of those issues when I praise my program and the experiences I've had because the issues seep into everything we all do. These problems did force me to write the first blog because there was so much disservice being done to dramaturgs and those who weren't actors or designers and I needed to get it all off of my chest. There's still so much more to say, but I'm currently working on a show right now and I can say that I do feel like some of my concerns were listened to. I also want to mention that there are so many things I could get into about academic theatre and its problems, but that's just not what this blog is about right now.

After the very horrible experience I had in the fall, I had a couple of uncomfortable conversations with my professors, mentors, and department chairs about how I felt like I was being treated. Almost immediately I felt like they took my issues into account and worked to fix them. I was added onto multiple email chains that I was supposed to be on, I was sent links to the SharePoint for the show, and I was just communicated with. I did have a different director for this show and I do think that changed a lot of things with my treatment because I had heard multiple times that she was incredibly respectful to everyone involved with the show. I've learned now that that's true and while maybe I had one very bad director, it is good to know that other people out there are kind and caring. Do I still often feel like actors do not care about the work I do? Yes, constantly. But, am I in a position where I feel confident and comfortable with talking to my director about dramaturgy? Yes. So, while some things have changed for the better, others have stayed the same. I also do feel much more confident in my work this time around because I know how good it is. I will brag about being good at what I do because I know it's true and maybe that's selfish, but that's just how I feel. I am very grateful that the people I talked to did listen to me and it did make me feel better when I found out that I was not the only one with complaints. Being able to get it all off of my chest makes me feel much more comfortable in the rehearsal room because the directors there know that I know my worth and I will not be dealing with anything that makes me feel like I'm unworthy to be there.

Another thing that has been almost overwhelmingly validating has the dramaturgy class and the mentorship I've gained from the professor. This is a class that the school offers once or twice every four years because there's not a huge interest in it, but it is required for some degrees. Before taking this class, I did feel a little on my own because the only dramaturgy foundation I had was from research I did in the past and I didn't really feel like there was anyone at the school who I could talk to about dramaturgy. Since the beginning of this semester, I've found myself feeling validated by my professor because she has shown me what it looks like to be a professional dramaturg and she has shown me that this is a viable career option. It's always been hard to find professional dramaturgs who want to just talk about their experience, but I now have this mentorship and I am so grateful for it. Being able to hear from someone who does what I want to do and makes it her career has been so motivating because before it always felt like this was something that would end once I left college. She's opened my eyes to what else is out there and I will forever be thankful for that.

There are still times when I question if I want to dramaturg, but I've really had a change of heart in the last few months, especially since I've been so lucky to have a positive working experience. Without this positive experience, I can confidently say I would not continue working as a dramaturg and I would have found something different because one invalidating experience is just enough to plant doubts in you forever. Will there probably always be issues with people looking down on dramaturgs? Yes. But, do I feel better now about where I stand in the industry and with my peers? Also yes. The confidence that I've gained in my work has allowed me to find my place in this community and know that I deserve it just as much as every other person in the room.

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From This Author - Student Blogger: Paige Rosko