International Dramaturgy Lab – Halfway Report

The Dramaturgs' Network is very proud to be one of the driving forces behind this unique international collaboration. The project was conjured from a wish to offer something extraordinary for our members, a place to connect globally over time with no pressure to achieve pre-determined outcomes. Rather, allowing the participants to show us all what practitioners value, need and desire from leaving groups to take their own decision. As a project this is an experiment, a pilot for the future, and is gently steered by representatives of the 7 partner organisations. We in the steering committee, listened, observed and took part and above all were inspired by what was shared in the IDL CONTEXT event in February and this is our report.


Members of the IDL Constellations group on Gather
IDL members gather on Gather

BACKGROUND

In an effort to foster collaboration and communication among dramaturgs across the world in the age of a global pandemic, the International Dramaturgy Lab (IDL), a dramaturgy-driven initiative designed to facilitate open-ended artistic collaboration around the question "What does it mean to work dramaturgically across borders?"


The Numbers

7 Partner Organisations: The Dramaturgs’ Network UK; Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) USA, Canada, and Mexico; The Fence International Network; STOD Finland; and the Danish Dramaturg Network.

The Steering Group

11 members representing Mexico, Canada, UK, Finland, Denmark, Norway and the United States.

The Dramaturgs

93 Dramaturgs in 14 individual groups of 3 to 8 people each. Dramaturgs in these groups from five different continents--North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania.

The IDL logo: on a yellow background, a magenta line drawing of a globe, half exposed to show mechanical workings underneath.

MID-YEAR CHECK IN

Since November 2020 the 14 groups have been working together to create community, discussions, and projects following the open-ended philosophy of the International Dramaturgy Lab. Some discoveries include:

  • A place for dramaturgy driven artists to simply be practitioners, thinkers and dreamers. Allowing shared interests, world events and individual's projects and situations to steer conversations.

  • Opportunity to learn from International Peers

  • Investigating the consequences of the primacy of English language and cultures as an international means of communicating ideas in theatre and performance. Tackling it within the mixed language groups.

  • Cross cultural exploration of specific areas of interest: queer culture, feminist theatre, the climate crisis, BLM, disability, sciences and culture, digital theatre, policy and industry differences.

  • Comparing tools, work situations, work processes, industry and policy environments and ways of thinking about dramaturgy across country, language and continents.

  • A wider range of different outputs ideas, for various purposes and audiences is emerging then would have been likely if we had asked for specific types of output.

  • A range of online tools that are useful to dramaturgical discussions and project. We noted that as practitioners we rarely have space to explore these tools without external pressures, goals and for specific projects.

OUTPUT

The outputs of the project will be resources and learning points from the project as a whole.

  • Tools to collaborate, connect and to imagine over timezones, cultures, borders and languages.

  • Professional development learnings - The benefits for individual participants from connecting with peers over time to investigate issues that concern them.

Many of the groups are planning outputs of their own:

  • Collaborative writings

  • Podcasts

  • Production ideas

  • Guidelines around specific area of dramaturgical practice.

  • Dramaturgical questions for our time around equity, equality and our professions response and commitment to change.

IDL AND ITS CONTEXT

The group presentations outlining the discussions and pre-occupations of dramaturgs and practitioners across the globe show that dramaturgs are taking very seriously the issues outlined in open letters to the industry, such as We See You White American Theater and We need to talk about Dramaturgy, in challenging the status quo, how and who we work with, our role in projects and in changing the industry for the future.


The IDL pilot version in its own right highlight the predominance of northern hemisphere organisations and English language dominance, having come out of existing relationships. Even though the participants are diverse and with a global reach, we acknowledge this imbalance as something to address in the future.


NEXT STEPS


  • LMDA CONFERENCE

  • Different events at the Mexico 2021 Conference platforms to share the techniques, discussions and output of the International Dramaturgy Lab.

  • NETWORKING EVENT

  • Creating a networking event for the participants and industry professionals to share the benefits of this global collaboration, explore further avenues for specific projects and for the IDL as well as connecting dramaturgs to theatres and vice versa.

  • THE FUTURE OF IDL AND ITS PARTICIPANTS

  • Creating a capsule of resources of the collaboration created during IDL.

  • Responding to how the participants are using this opportunity to shape future iterations of the project. What needs and gaps is it filling?

  • Looking at how we facilitate and support the connections and output from the IDL groups. Groups may stay connected and continue to develop ideas and resources past the LMDA conference with external partners or amongst themselves.

KEEP IN CONTACT

If you are interested in hearing more about the project, please contact Phaedra Scott (phaedramichelle.scott@gmail.com).


If you are interested in being kept up to date with future events of the IDL please send and email with the subject matter IDL news to hanna@dramaturgy.co.uk.


If you are a performing arts organisation, theatre. festival or producer interested in the project outputs and dialogues please contact IDL steering group member David Robertson (courtney2008@windowslive.com).


Best,


Hanna Slattne and Sarah Sigal

The Dramaturgs’ Network representatives of the IDL Steering Committee


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