The Dramaturg Of The Patron Saint Of Stanley ParkTuesday, December 06, 2011
A guest blog by my granddaughter Rebecca Stewart, 14.
Dramaturge (DRAMA-TURGE) is a professional position within a theatre or opera company that deals mainly with research and development of plays or operas. This is a definition I found on the oh-so-popular Wikipedia. It tells you in a nutshell what a dramaturge does, but I was still left with questions like, "What's the importance of a dramaturge?" I asked my english teacher. She responded with a dramatic, “What?" I was left pondering until I actually got the opportunity to meet one of these mythical creatures we call a dramaturge.
|Rebecca Stewart & Rachel Ditor|
Rachel Ditor, a warm and friendly woman, is the literary manager at our beloved Arts Club Theatre. She is a dramaturge who has been, over the past twenty years, working with companies all over Canada such as Playwrights Workshop Montreal, The National Arts Center and the Banff Centre's Playwrights' Colony. Along with her talent to help writers produce masterpieces, Ms. Ditor teaches dramaturgy at the University of British Columbia..
I had the pleasure of being able to meet Ditor at her home and ask her questions about being a dramaturg.[ some dramaturges like to write their profession in the French fashion, dramaturge, but Ditor opts for the German version, dramaturg.]
Rebecca Stewart: How would you explain what a dramaturg does?
Rachel Ditor: A dramaturg works with a playwright like an editor works with an author. The dramaturg will re read a playwright's work and give him or her advice on how to make it a masterpiece. Sometimes this process can take up to five years.
RS: What's your favorite part of being a dramaturg?
RD: I love working with writers. I learn a lot from writers. To help the writer I have to be in the know of what they are writing about, so I learn about many new things. With playwright Anosh Irani I had to watch countless Bollywood films and even more documentaries on the brothels of Mumbai.
RS: Could you pick a play you really enjoyed being a Dramaturg for?
RD: I got to work with Daniel MacIvor on a play called His Greatness about Tennessee Williams’s brief stay in Vancouver years ago. I really look up to MacIvor and admire him. Working with him was exciting.
RS: If there was a downside to being a dramaturg what would it be?
RD: Paper cuts! I deal with so much paper I am constantly getting them. I also get sore
eyes and stiff shoulders from reading so much. I would have to say that the worst part though is when a playwright is not happy with the final product; I feel it's my fault. Seeing an artist's ego crushed is heartbreaking.
RS: What plays are you working on at the moment ?
RD: Do you want what I have got? - A Craigslist Cantata by Bill Richardson and Veda Hill. I really recommend you come to see it next year.
RS: Jobs can be stressful, so what do you do to unwind?
RD: I come home, where it is quiet. I cook or maybe just lie on the couch and look out the window. I listen to music [During the interview we were listening to Charlie Haden's Nocturne with pianist Ernesto Rubalcava]. When I'm off work I can let my mind wander. It’s really important to me to have that peace, some time to do nothing, it’s what keeps me sane, and creative.
RS: To finish off, what's your connection with the play The Patron Saint of Stanley Park [now playing at the Arts Club's Granville Island Review Stage until December 24]?
RD: I am the dramaturg of that play. I got to work with playwright Hiro Kanagawa who is a joy. He has a great imagination, is intelligent and is a wonderful story teller.