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Tracy Tynan's Message at the Inaugural Kenneth Tynan Award

I am sorry that I am unable to be with you today, but on behalf of my family, I want to thank the Dramaturgs’ Network for organizing this event and naming this prestigious award after my father.

People often ask what exactly does a dramaturg do? Well, I thought you might be interested to hear my father’s description of what he – and his beleaguered secretary – did in their first year at the National Theatre.

This is from a memo he wrote in 1964, begging for more help:

  • Collection, distribution and return of plays, required for reading by directors and assistant directors.

  • Reading and reporting on plays, old and new.

  • Commissioning new plays.

  • Working with playwrights and translators on scripts.

  • Research for programmes, involving the tracking down, collecting and return of prints, photographs, background books etc.

  • Collation of cast list materials, compilation of programme texts and supervision of reprints.

  • Traveling to see plays, meet authors and directors.

  • Acting as spokesman for NT, including delivering speeches and taking part in debates, in London and abroad.

  • Appearing on TV and radio and giving interviews to critics and journalists for national and international consumption.

  • Editing and part-writing NT publications.

  • Writing articles on the NT for publication in foreign magazines and newspapers.

  • Attending Board, Drama and Building Committee meetings, and representing the NT on a multitude of other councils and committees.

And last but not least: Preventing the Wrong plays from being chosen as far as possible!

And he did all this for the princely sum of 46 pounds per week!

My father’s motto was to “Rouse tempers, goad, lacerate and raise whirlwinds”.

I encourage the recipient of this year’s Kenneth Tynan Award to continue the tradition.

Good luck!


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