'European Dramaturgy in the 21st century. A constant movement'

Part of the Invisible Diaries series[1]

Week 2 / Day 3 Week 2 / Day 2

Week 2 / Day 1


Today’s post is dedicated to dramaturgs and critical thinkers,

past present and future

– everywhere in the world.

Yesterday was a long day at the (home) office, concluding with an emergency meeting of the Dramaturgs’ Network Advisory Board late into the night. (Three of us are mothers, of which two have small children, so the meeting had to be scheduled after the kids’ bedtime.) These dramaturgs in the past months have lost most or all of their income, have seen their projects, research, grant applications, and plans for the year melt into thin air, and whose own careers have become uncertain, yet, despite this, they come together to think about their colleagues, and how to support their fellow artists, reaching out to various networks and organisations, in order to help secure and stabilise the future of the industry.

This alone demonstrates what faithful and dedicated team-players dramaturgs are! How much they care about nurturing the work and the theatre community they feel they belong to – even if they (or their labour) are so often overlooked or deemed invisible.

The picture for the whole theatre industry is uncertain at best.

Yet, the scene is already changing, theatre professionals are trying to adapt creatively to the new environment and adjusting their practices to the current reality. Theatre-makers everywhere in the world are trying to find an answer to the most pressing question: how do we now connect with an audience? How can we have a shared experience? How can we make work today? And what kind of theatre are we going to make after the lockdown?

For a volunteer organisation, we at the d’n are very much conditioned and used to working resourcefully on a very low budget. Being a small organisation, it is not too difficult for us to respond quickly to a new situation, adjust, and make new plans. It seems that since the pandemic, there is a yearning for solidarity and working our way together out of this crisis. So, although, our chances as a small ‘guild’ of dramaturgs for solid funding for our next year’s 20th anniversary celebrations have diminished, this may not be our organisation’s major problem.

Our major problem is that the work of dramaturgs and the future of the profession within the industry has received a major blow. I recall a phone call with a talented and dedicated colleague immediately after the lockdown, her admitting tearfully and not without reason: ‘I think this is the end of my professional career.’ My informed estimate is that there are 250 – 300 dramaturgs in the UK, who up till now have been working as self-employed professionals, playing an important part in creative processes – they are now badly affected.