rlevitow May 17, 2008 No Comments

Tel-Aviv University, International Research Workshop in Dramaturgy

The Department of Theatre Studies, Tel-Aviv University, invites you to participate in the first International Research Workshop of its kind in Israel to explore the current functions, boundaries and implementation methods of Dramaturgy both in theatrical praxis and academic studies. The Workshop of The Israel Science Foundation will take place on May 27-29 2008 with 10 leading dramaturgs, dramaturgy scholars and a director who works closely with a dramaturg, coming from Australia, USA, Germany and Slovenia, as well as Israeli researchers, dramaturgs, playwrights, directors and other theatrical practitioners.  The basic tenets of Dramaturgy have been laid by Lessing in Germany some 250 years ago, and have later been elaborated by Brecht and others. But only since the 1960s, one might observe a growing tendency in the Western world at large to appropriate, modify and acculturate the originally German meaning of  “dramaturg” (or “dramaturge”), and most poignantly  the predominant concept of  the “Production Dramaturg” – the person in charge of helping to transpose the pre-text into the theatrical text. And yet, Dramaturgy still remains a vague and non-circumscribed field, subject to a bewildering, eclectic, subjective and partly incompatible influx of definitions. So, What is Dramaturgy? as the title of Bert Cardullo’s seminal anthology from 1995 asks; is it indeed A Revolution in Theatre as Mary Luckhurst’s book (2006) assures us?; Is it a prominent feature of the stage performance’s established mechanism as implied by Cathy Turner and Synne K. Behrndt’s Dramaturgy and Performance (2008)?; or is it merely a superfluous profession as the theatrical practice in many countries still proves? Moreover: What is the difference between the de-contextualized play-analysis in class or academic publication, and the applied reading of the text that is subject to a host of very concrete contextual and practical considerations? And conversely: How may this applied reading reflect back upon hermeneutic and interpretive methodologies in general? And in view of this query: How should a future dramaturg be trained? Dramaturgy furthermore bridges over the gaps between Society, Academy and Performance. The conceptions of the dramaturg as the conscience of the theatre (Arthur Ballet) and as “the intellectual at work within the theatre” (Lars Seeberg) are by now familiar household words. But what do they mean? How does the political, social, cultural and artistic commitment of the dramaturg assert itself?  Despite the fact that the dramaturg is privileged with a prominent position in many countries in the world, and that Dramaturgy is a major subject in many colleges and universities in America, Europe and Australia, this profession still suffers from negligence and undermining attitude in most Israeli Theatres. This fact may be inferred from the superficial and narrow minded repertoire, from the overridingly shallow stage conceptions as well as from the ongoing disdain towards the potential contribution of academic theatre studies and research to stage arts in Israel. Awareness of this grave situation conduced the Theatre Department of Tel Aviv University some 20 years ago to launch the first dramaturgy studies program based on the expertise of its teachers who serve(d) as dramaturgs both in Israel and abroad. Most of the current dramaturgs in Israel Theatre are graduates of the department.  The workshop has been initiated in view of the dire state of Dramaturgy in Israeli Theatre, and the need to study the nature and functions of the field from top experts and practitioners, who come from countries with a very long dramaturgical – and academic, meta-dramaturgical – tradition. Another reason is the expansion worldwide of the field of Dramaturgy to include inter-disciplinary projects, dramaturgy of dance and body, dramaturgy of Performance, dramaturgy of opera and musical events, the dramaturg as curator, etc. A different motive for this Workshop consists in the need to discuss methodologies for teaching the field and the profession and to deal with the interaction between academia and stage, dramaturgical theory and practice, as well as with the aspects of historical development and heuristic problems of dramaturgy in Israel Theatre.     Dramaturgy as Applied Knowledge: From Theory to Practice and Back, dedicated to the hybrid field of dramaturgy, is designed as an intensive meeting point between theoreticians and practitioners, not in order to provide answers, but to pose questions, to discuss and experiment with them through concrete examples in the form of an interactive workshop in which everybody participates.   The proceedings of the International Research Workshop will be conducted in English. For the program in English and further details, please refer to our website: www.tau.ac.il/~dramatur  Gad Kaynar, Initiator and Convener  Academic Committee: (G. Kaynar: Chairperson), Shimon Levy, Nurith Yaari, Shulamit Lev-Alagem

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