'Dramaturge as Midwife: The Writing Process within a New Zealand community theatre project'
Summary (1 min read)
- This article examines the different writing processes within a New Zealand intra-cultural community theatre project.
- In analysing this process I develop the metaphor of the midwife to conceptualize and theorize the role of the dramaturge.
- In January 2008 Auckland City Council commissioned a group of artists to create a community theatre performance The authors Street which involved three city suburbs where more than half the inhabitants have been born overseas.
- This project aimed to create new connections, celebrate cultural diversity and encourage community pride.
- As a British dramaturge who has worked in New Zealand for the last ten years I was very conscious of my role within a history of colonization.
- As dramaturge I made offers regarding form, structure and character development but the group made collective choices, editing and negotiating rewrites on their feet before writing it down.
- Over one week the students did a ‘neighbourhood watch’ exercise where they kept a journal of stories from their street.
- The road where mothers Push their babies gently in prams.
- And joggers float by Almost led by the music in their iPods.
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Cites background from "'Dramaturge as Midwife: The Writing..."
...This view of the lecturer as midwife has been explored by Graham (2009) in the context of performing arts education....
Cites background or methods from "'Dramaturge as Midwife: The Writing..."
...In the same issue (JWCP 2:2) Graham (2009) reveals how it might work for those who are invited and experienced writers and those who are students of performance....
...5 Writing as collaboration: Collaboration as writing The articles that address this subject through performance are Robert Wilsmore (2009) and Fiona Graham (2009). Wilsmore’s (2009) article, The Last Performance [dot org]: An impossible collaboration, focuses on an online collaboration in which the participants are the performers and in which notions of writing are used to address some of the preoccupations of performance. Here is a rich, interwoven online world in which endings are sought and narratives are split and developed, readdressed and begun again by those who engaged with the original performance group over a twenty-year period. A language of performance is developed through meanings taken from other literary disciplines. Graham (2009) looks to the creative process of collaboration and how it can work as a bridge to cultures in a particular location....
...1 8 4 Writing as Collaboration: Collaboration through writing The Last Performance [dot org]: an impossible collaboration (Wilsmore, 2009) Dramaturge as midwife: the writing process within a New Zealand community theatre project (Graham, 2009) Themes not represented: Writing as Design Tool: Design Tool as Writing...
...5 Writing as collaboration: Collaboration as writing The articles that address this subject through performance are Robert Wilsmore (2009) and Fiona Graham (2009). Wilsmore’s (2009) article, The Last Performance [dot org]: An impossible collaboration, focuses on an online collaboration in which the participants are the performers and in which notions of writing are used to address some of the preoccupations of performance....
...I would like to thank my examiners, Mike Press and Fiona English, for their insightful advice and recommendations that have improved my own understanding of my research journey and the clarity of my thesis....
"'Dramaturge as Midwife: The Writing..." refers background in this paper
...Bhabha identifies the ‘political empowerment that comes from a vision of community’ that ‘takes you “beyond yourself” in order to return, in a spirit of revision and reconstitution, to the political conditions of the present’ (Bhabha 1994: 4)....
...As Homi Bhabha observes ‘These “in-between” spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood – singular or communal – that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself’ (Bhabha 1994: 2)....
...According to Bhabha (1994), hybridity and ‘linguistic multivocality’ have JWCP_2.2_art_Graham_209-216.indd 209 10/28/09 9:59:00 AM 210 Fiona Graham the potential to intervene and dislocate the process of colonization through the reinterpretation of political discourse....
"'Dramaturge as Midwife: The Writing..." refers background in this paper
...Eugenio Barba describes dramaturgy as a synthesizing process, a ‘weave’ or ‘weaving together’ (Barba 1985: 75)....
...Eugenio Barba describes dramaturgy as a synthesizing process, a ‘weave’ or ‘weaving together’ (Barba 1985: 75). In Our Street this weaving was facilitated through collaboration between director and dramaturge. We agreed on the importance of showing the collective process within the narrative. The metaphor of ‘building fences’ and the community celebration at the end of the show reflected the group’s journey. The artists supported the storyline and with the director they began to develop their different media within the structure. Over the next twelve weeks the Polynesian group and Indian group improvised and scripted their stories using the same process as on Sticky Fingers. The dramaturge and director then separated the key moments into different scenes and began to juxtapose and bring together the two groups and their stories. On one side of the stage was a Samoan–Maori wedding and on the other an Indian wedding between a Punjabi and a South Indian. It was powerful to see a young Indian girl performing a Polynesian dance and then the Polynesian youth group doing a Bollywood dance routine. At the same time the Chinese and ‘gangster’ house stories were developed, the ‘gangster’ house being inspired by text from Jeronimo Ponifasio, the student from Papua New Guinea. The director, Justine, typed the scenes and remained ‘inside’ the text while I, the dramaturge, strove to maintain an ‘outsider’s’ eye. This balance meant that Justine could also explore all the performance possibilities of music, dance and film while I concentrated on structure, pace and through line. At each rehearsal the groups were creating new material with the choreographers and composer. The source material was created collectively by ‘the multiple scriptors’, facilitated by both the director and dramaturge, typed together by the director and edited by the dramaturge. The company finished the final draft leaving three weeks for a rehearsal period in which the director took control of performance and developed the text from the page to the stage. At this point I continued to offer feedback ever conscious of Turner and Behrndt’s observation that the dramaturge must be a diplomat ‘finding the right language to pose difficult, but necessary questions and sometimes make what might seem uncomfortable observations about the decisions being made’ (Turner and Behrndt 2008: 182). Barthes (1997) has argued that the unity of a text is only discovered by the reader....
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Q1. What are the contributions mentioned in the paper "Dramaturge as midwife: the writing process within a new zealand community theatre project" ?
This article examines the different writing processes within a New Zealand intra-cultural community theatre project. I use this case study to interrogate Barthes ’ s notion ( 1977 ) of the ‘ death of the author ’ and Bhabha ’ s argument ( 1994 ) about how some forms of multiculturalism can lead to political empowerment. In conclusion, I suggest that this multi-authored community project exemplifies the kind of empowerment that Bhabha describes. This intra-cultural project bought together young people in Aotearoa who are firstand second-generation migrants from India, Tonga, China, Rwanda, Fiji, Australia, Samoa, Niue, Somalia, the Cook Islands and Burma. This project aimed to create new connections, celebrate cultural diversity and encourage community pride. This article will examine the writing processes within this devising project where there was no conventional author. This community project employed a dramaturge rather than a writer, so when and how did the ‘ writing ’ take place ? This article highlights the agency of the dramaturge within this process and explores the utility of the ‘ midwife ’ metaphor for understanding the way that successful dramaturgy can guide the writing process from conception to birth. At Auckland City Council the two community arts officers who chose the team and managed the project were Australian. This distinction is important as it draws analytical attention to the contrasting perceptions or world-views of those who are inside and those who are outside a particular cultural framework. She had the relationships, contacts and connections to bring the Pacific Island community ‘ inside ’ the project but she also had an active political commitment to new immigrant and refugee stories. Where possible, it was important to exist as the ‘ outsider ’ ; I aimed to work with all the groups but not ‘ belong ’ to any of them. Throughout the project I described my role as midwife rather than parent and I was engaged in the process of development rather than the provision of source material. The project began with introductory sessions led by the Council community arts officers enabling the artists to establish a common language and vision. 211 Dramaturge as midwife workshop weeks where the artists established relationships and introduced their media to the different communities. According to Barthes ( 1977 ), writing begins as soon as the text stands outside the author, once the symbol stands on the page. As he puts it, ‘ the disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins ’ ( Barthes 1977: 142 ). The dramaturge De Vuyst, in an interview with Turner and Behrndt ( 2008: 157 ), also uses this ‘ mirror ’ metaphor when working in dance with a choreographer: ‘ A dramaturge is a mirror: you reflect – literally mirror – what you see [... ] the challenge is to be intellectual without being guilty of intellectualism ’. I was frequently reminded of this challenge while working with the different groups involved in this project. In order to access more stories and introduce other young people to the project I led a series of writing workshops with 16-year-olds in two local secondary schools. 210 Fiona Graham the potential to intervene and dislocate the process of colonization through the reinterpretation of political discourse.