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Instead of making a statement on dramaturgy, The second role of dramaturgy in my work


I will focus here on describing the role dramaturgy concerns the creation of the thread that connects
has had in my own work and outlining a type of all the individual projects into one ongoing
dramaturgy that I am hoping will emerge with exploration. This refers not only to how this
more prominence in the near future. installation or that performance share elements
A while ago, a friend of mine asked me what a and expand on different aspects of them. Even
dramaturg’s role really was in theatre. He said that more importantly, it is about how I can use certain
his first association with the word was that of a elements from my projects, as well as from other
Turk who made a lot of drama. When I think about people’s projects, art history, politics, daily news,
it now, this rings quite true. A dramaturg in my weather, my friend’s lives etc. in order to
process is a kind of a ‘Turk’, someone who is contextualize them differently in each new work
somewhat alien, who maintains his or her I make. And further, how these elements can affect
otherness and distance from the process in order and loop back onto the original material they were
to be able to ask questions about it. And it is also taken from, and how they can re-appear with each
someone who makes a lot of drama, someone who new project. Therefore, this red thread of
asks questions about things that might otherwise dramaturgy extends itself through my projects in
slip by unnoticed or be taken for granted. time.
Most of my work is concerned with issues of The third level of dramaturgy in my work is the
presence and embodiment and procedures of one I find very important for future dramaturgies.
fictionalizing. I often take original material from By this I mean attitudes that can help make
other sources: films (embodying the movement of dramaturgies of real-life events transparent. They
the actors), my private life (moving my furniture may include: a dramaturgy of one’s of life (how
into my installation), weather conditions I fictionalize my own life to give it a grand
(collaborating with the factor of its unpredictability narrative); a dramaturgy of community life (that
and ‘givenness’). Then I set up ‘generators’ that makes visible the strategies of staging,
process this material to produce new work. These fictionalizing and performing day-to-day life); a
generators are, in fact, dramaturgical structures, dramaturgy of virtual life (that makes visible the
and their transparency in the work is as important strategies of fictionalizing, staging and performing
as the material itself. I might call it a dramaturgy of political and other events through the mass media
space, which renders both the content and the of TV, film and the Internet).
manners in which that content is produced visible Ideally, this kind of dramaturgy would be capable
at the same time. of underlining the network-like relationship
Working with a dramaturg is for me as important between these three threads and could incorporate
as working with any other collaborator. I set up a them into the art-making process, where not only
certain dramaturgical structure (a generator), life is a generator of art but art is a generator of life
which might, for example, be based on a timeline in a transparent way.
of a certain emotion. Once this generator is clear
to all of us, we use it as an anchor to hold the rest
of the elements together, a red thread that runs
through the process and the performance and to
which everyone can relate. A good dramaturg for
my process is someone who manages never to
lose sight of this red thread.

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DOI: 10.1080/13528160903519625
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For the past ten years – and more – I have been remarkable company, Chiara Guidi, Claudia
teaching in London at one of the so-called ‘new’ Castellucci and Romeo Castellucci (Castellucci et
universities in a subject area (we call it ‘Drama, al. 2007). For four years or so, following the
Theatre and Performance Studies’) that negotiates unfolding of SRS’s enigmatic gesturality in
between a large undergraduate programme, which Romeo’s eleven-part sequence Tragedia
takes in about 150 students a year and tends to Endogonidia was, I suppose, for me the core
focus on the dramatic and theatrical end of that twenty-first-century theatre experience to match
spectrum, and a PhD programme that caters those years at the end of the previous century
almost entirely for students whose research spent breaking down gesture and intentionality
proposals identify with the interdisciplinary – and, into microscopic particles in lofts in Hoxton and
for some, post-theatrical – field of performance Peckham with PUR. Whatever lights these and
studies. My own work and interests move between other experiences can cast on a dramaturgy ‘to
these various points of identification, with a come’ take the form, today, of the following: some
prejudice – I suppose – towards questions that scraps, some scattered reflections upon works
tend to strike me in ‘theatrical’ terms, most seen and what stays with me when the work is
recently questions about rhetoric, images and done, the time that remains and that opens, here
spectatorship. Put like that, I know, the terms and there, into a thought about something done
sound very bland – no less bland, I suspect, than well that might call for a ‘taking on’ of what was
any projections I might make on the topic of ‘good’ in these encounters. Not, perhaps, this
‘European dramaturgy in the 21st century’. At this time, a return, or a doing-again, to be marked by a
end of the twenty-first century, I’m not sure that Beckettian lessness (Beckett having put down the
I can get much further, for the moment, than marker for what can’t be gone back on in the
reflecting on theatrical experiences that seem, for previous century, for what can only be followed up,
the large part, still wrapped up in the unfinished though be it with exquisitely diminishing returns),
business of the twentieth century (and earlier). For but something for the new age (even if what it
the sake of this brief statement, I’d say those looks like is a resigned fiction) like an endogenous
experiences are basically of two sorts. One belongs departure from what keeps re-appearing as of its
to a very particular location, conversation and own accord, irrespective of our best efforts to make
group of people, somewhere or other in London it appear or even to look it in the eye.
through the mid-1990s, collaborating on a series of So, those scraps, followed by a few brief
long-laboured and then briefly-exhibited devised comments. First the scraps. Kinkaleri’s Nerone, the
theatre pieces under the name Theatre PUR. If collective for the first time putting actors up there
I know – or rather if I think – anything worth on the stage rather than themselves, two hours,
thinking about dramaturgy, then much of it is still more than two hours, of unremitting blackness (in
indebted to lessons that I learned there. The spite of holes cut in the black floor), one of the
second experience is dispersed, distended, a thing actors on the dark carpet starting, then stopping to
of multiple parts, and has to do with being a start again, to whip herself across her back while
spectator, in London and then, more and more, the other plays ‘horse’, all to the perpetually
outside of London and also outside of the UK, interrupted strains of Scott Walker’s ‘A Lover Loves’
following theatre in ‘Europe’, a pleasure that (‘Corneas misted / colour high … ’). A rich
belonged at the same time to getting ‘work’ done, theatrical meditation on love and death that seems
as evidenced by a collection of essays on European to be that without having to say anything about
Theatre co-edited with Nicholas Ridout (Kelleher itself, without having to betray its ‘topic’, the scene
and Ridout 2006) and a book on the theatre of – or say, even, the story – somehow already oozing
Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, co-authored with Nick its own after-image, that image (for those of us
(again) alongside the artistic core of that who were there) as vivid and viscid as congealed

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ink. You had to be there too for Bock & Vincenzi’s recently where the actors have given the audience
invisible dances … , although it will have been books to hold and look at while the show goes on.
possible to talk after the show about the rigorous We looked at the pictures in the books, we watched
pursuit of technologies of reproduction and the action onstage, and we followed the story that
translation (actions become images become words was being told to us (read out directly from
become fractured gesture …) around a source that Sorokin’s text) and – at times – performed in front
isn’t so much absent as barely accessible; the of us. What ‘went on’ – for this spectator at least
extreme distension (spatially and temporally) of – went on at once in all and also none of those
the rhetoric of the stage to produce a choreography places. And, meanwhile, something alien,
of spasm and dancelessness; and talk too about something strange and inhuman, was captured
the gift to the spectator of a theatrical experience and turned over to look, remarkably, unnervingly,
turned, as it were, inside out, to be approached just like us. Maybe, if I were to risk drawing out a
perhaps only through some sort of anamorphosis thread on which to hang a discourse about
that will seem to reveal – in spite of everything – European dramaturgy in the current ‘century’, it
such terror and at the same time such (loving?) might be the thread that ties one or another
care. The same goes, although in different ways anamorphosis to its ‘true’ appearance, a thread
(for the occasion, restricting the list to European that is spun out not from makers and shapers
examples), for SRS’s Hey Girl!, where the behind the scenes or ‘in the picture’ but from the
dramaturg function seems strangely to be deferred twisted eye-beams of the spectator who dreamed it
to the performative machinery of the stage itself, all already, and who puts flesh upon the dream
which offers up human appearance as if in every time the lights change, the curtains open and
ambivalent tribute to the imperious demand of the the figures come on.
spectators (that’s us) that such appearances
should be brought forth – or the New Riga REFERENCES
Theatre’s adaptation of Vladimir Sorokin’s novel Castellucci, Claudia, Castellucci, Romeo, Guidi, Chiara,
Ice, where we might stretch the point to suggest Kelleher, Joe and Ridout, Nicholas (2007) The Theatre of
that here the function of conjuring a drama out of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, London: Routledge.
the given materials is given over – or, after all this Kelleher, Joe and Ridout, Nicholas (eds) (2006)
time, we might do better to say returned – to the Contemporary Theatres in Europe: A critical companion,
spectators themselves. This isn’t the only show London: Routledge.

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THE OTHER DRAMATURGY BETWEEN without real confrontations with each other. The
EUROPE AND ASIA chances for a new theatre have not been well
utilized strategically. That is why we have many
Japanese or East Asian theatre still holds many possibilities to enhance the cross-cultural theatre
possibilities for dramaturgical activities. East Asia, communication on an artistic level. For this
which has its own theatre culture and tradition, has purpose, firstly, we must recognize the theatre
actively absorbed European styles and artistry and forms and styles of foreign cultures more strongly
incorporated these other cultural dramas into its in their otherness and confront them with our own.
own for the last hundred years. Especially in Japan, Secondly, we must playfully integrate, differentiate,
next to the traditional theatre such as Noh, Kyogen, alienate and destroy them, which is possible only
Kabuki and Bunraku, modern European straight in the cross-cultural dramas.
plays (Shingeki) and avant-garde performances There seems to be no doubt that a lot of
and dances have been adopted from Europe. For dramaturgical effort is needed for this kind of
instance, the founders of Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata production. The experts of ‘production dramaturgy’
and Kazuo Ohno, were influenced by the German must join their knowledge of the theatre of many
Ausdruckstanz in their youth and went on to cultures (as well as of their societies and histories),
establish their unique style. Today, many kinds of their experiences, good sense and unerring
theatre are performed every day in and around judgment. Unfortunately, very few experts can
Tokyo. In addition, European and Japanese perform dramaturgical work for both European and
performers and directors have collaborated in the Asian theatre. This situation produces the
past decade. This cross-cultural theatre necessity and possibility to foster such expert for
communication could lead to a new type of theatre the future. Teachers, researchers and students in
aesthetics in the twenty-first century. theatre departments who can play this role must
However, there have been very few successful and can make more direct contacts with theatre
collaborations so far. Most productions are no practitioners and experts from foreign cultures.
more than co-operations between directors and This work is not easy but can contribute to a
performers, in which the one side simply adopts dramaturgy that is suitable for more dynamic
and integrates the other, or both remain as they are theatre activities in the twenty-first century.

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WHEN THE DRAMATURG BECOMES OBSOLETE, was ‘dramaturg’ at the time, I didn’t join their
THE DRAMATURGICAL REMAINS IMPORTANT projects in this particular function, because a ‘pure’
observations from choreographic practice dramaturg wasn’t what was needed. So I entered
without knowing my own role in advance but it
1. When Xavier Le Roy planned his production quickly transpired that I became even more than a
Project in 2002, he didn’t invite a dramaturg to take performer, a choreographer and a dramaturg:
over the function of an “outside eye” in the working inspired by the experience of being involved in the
process. He was interested in the idea of turning working process on so many different levels
the production of a dance performance into the (without feeling particularly competent for this triple
performance itself. Ideally, he wanted to produce a responsibility) I started to document, analyse and
presentation format in which process and product put into words what was going on. This was nothing
would fall together. That is why he was unable to really special, because it was exactly what all the
separate the period of conceptual preparation from other participants did too. The only difference was
that of the practical exploration of certain that I slowly began to develop an interest in
choreographic methods or from that of the theorizing these choreographic modes of work.
analytical observation of the performative result. I asked myself which kind of working processes
Accordingly, he searched for participants who were and methods, which forms of collaboration and
able to play several roles at once. They would be formats of presentation Le Roy, Lehmen and their
performers, choreographers and dramaturgs in one participants used to approach their conceptual
and therefore would be able to perform, produce goals. My theoretical interest and qualitative
and analyse the choreography at the same time. approach emerged from within the choreographic
practice and was made possible not despite but
2. In similar ways to Le Roy, Thomas Lehmen was through my rather unclear function. From today’s
looking for participants who were willing to be perspective – looking back at these collaborations
involved and distanced at the same time. For his after completing my doctoral dissertation on
project Funktionen (2004–5) he developed a Choreography as Critical Practice I can say that an
methodological toolbox with a set of choreographic access to such personal relations and partly fragile
systems that could be given away to other artists. situations needs involvement and distance at the
That transfer was meant to lead to a potential same time. One has to experience the creative
multiplicity of improvised choreographies. But process, to get fully absorbed, and one has to find
these systems were not only productive tools to a way to withdraw from it again in order to reflect
produce works that were no longer Lehmen’s own. upon it. So what is needed is an understanding
He also wanted them to have the potential to reflect through both doing and reflecting. Just diving into
the communication processes that are happening the creative process can easily lead to an over-
during an improvisation on stage. Accordingly, he identification with the artistic practice. Just
did not look for performers who would merely reflecting upon it entails the risk of applying
execute certain instructions but for ones who were external criteria that may have nothing to do with
‘mature’ enough to contribute to the development what is at stake. So theorizing choreographic
of his methodology as well as to its exploration, modes of work requires a constant change of
analysis, appropriation and transformation. position between an insider’s and an outsider’s
perspectives.
3. In both these cases, I entered the projects with
what I had brought with me: my non-professional 4. This personal story of a dramaturg who wasn’t
dance experience, years of studies in theatre, film needed as such but instead as a multi-tasking
and media and a strong interest in Le Roy’s and participant and who turned into a researcher with
Lehmen’s work. Even though my official job title an interest in theorizing choreographic modes of

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work reveals one characteristic trait of “the driven theory. Not theory that is imposed on
dramaturgical”. I speak of “the dramaturgical” here practice and uses it for its own purpose; rather a
intentionally in order to highlight a quality instead theory of practice that derives from practice and
of a function. A dramaturg has many more areas of goes along with it. This kind of theorizing has a lot
responsibility than watching, writing and giving to do with not-knowing: not knowing which
feedback but one central aspect of dramaturgical direction a creative process will take and not
work is the oscillation between inside and outside. knowing the result, but still knowing how to deal
Sometimes it is problematic, because it is always with such vagueness according to the
neither/nor. In other situations this switching of contingencies of a given situation.
perspectives comes quite naturally, however. And
with regard to my particular object of study reference
(choreographies that are made to reflect their own Husemann, Pirkko (2009) ‘Choreographie als kritische
making), the dramaturgical could even be Praxis: Arbeitsweisen bei Xavier Le Roy und Thomas
considered as one possible access to a practice- Lehmen’, transcript, Bielefeld.

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LISTEN AND PLAY discover authors and artists who have the ambition
to re-invent radio art, to bring in new methods and
When Gaby Hartel and I curated the ‘Woche des ideas from the different contexts of their work.
Hörspiels’ (Week of Radio Drama), a Radio-Art Reflecting on what is new in radio art, I believe
festival presented by the Academy of Arts in Berlin one new tendency lies in the way that radio artists
in April 2007, our central idea was to open up the currently return to ideas of intermedia as
festival, which for a long time had been a classic prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. This period
radio drama competition and only rarely looked must have been lucky radio days of discovery and
beyond the literary tradition of the radio play. With invention. In May 1969, for example, the ‘Literary
our festival relaunch we wanted to provide a Studio’ at the WDR radio in Germany, Cologne,
broader view on the vivid interplay between radio presented a half-hour Action Game by the German
art and related art forms. Fluxus-artist Wolf Vostell. The programme was
The festival opening by LIGNA, a group of media called 100 x Hören und Spielen (A Hundred Times
artists from Hamburg, was a plein air performance Listening and Playing). The listeners were invited
at Pariser Platz, the square in front of the to follow instructions such as ‘Press your naked
Academy’s main building and a tourist hotspot belly against your TV-screen’, ‘Lick the buttons of
next to the Brandenburg Gate, the famous Hotel your radio while listening’ or ‘Sting yourself with a
Adlon, the French Embassy etc. For one hour, up to needle, and have all electric devices in your
100 people simultaneously started to dance, take household running at the same time’. As an
photographs of one another and lie down on the attempt to organize a virtually collective indoor-
floor as if listening to echoes of history from below. performance in a public/private-space, Vostell’s
To end, the whole swarm of participants went game throws an interesting light on LIGNA’s
backwards through the Brandenburg Gate unified approach to working with radio today.
or, better, associated in some kind of ‘inverted The experimental spirit of these early years
parade’, the entire choreography conducted by seems to have had a revival, both in radio and in
LIGNA through instructions that the participants contemporary art. While positions of ‘Action Art’,
received via radio (an approach LIGNA calls ’radio ‘Conceptual Art’ and artistic interventions into
ballet’). social processes have been (re-)discovered in art,
To show the various interrelations between radio there has been a comeback of playfulness and of
and the arts, we invited playwrights, musicians and game-like dramaturgies in radio-art too. (see, for
contemporary artists who work with film, example, Ammer and Console On the Tracks, WDR
performance, visual arts and with public space [2002]; Rimini Protokoll O-Ton Ü-Tek, DLR [2000];
(Katharina Franck and Nuno Rebelo, Chris Watson, and Deutschland 2, WDR [2002], pieces that found
Susan Philipsz, Michaela Melián and Alvaro Zuniga, interesting ways to explore everyday life, its rituals
among others) to demonstrate and discuss how and its theatrical potential as well as the acoustic
radio and sound come into play within their work. medium in which they take place and, finally,
Of course, such borderline activities are nothing language itself).
very new. Radio art is one of the younger art forms, A second tendency I would like to point out is
going back (as radio itself) less than a hundred the new relevance of the voice, its sensual qualities
years. Right from the start, bringing subjects, and suggestive potential in radio and other media,
strategies and artists in from other fields had been which have been the subject of a range of radio
important for the development of radio art, and it plays, radio-docs and ars acustica-like productions
still is. for over half a decade. Speculating about possible
So, to answer a first question: yes, radio art does ‘Lessons from Listening’, I would suggest that
– and will – need dramaturgy. The important role of these sensual and emotional qualities of the voice
dramaturgs is to be curators and headhunters, to (a big theme in early radio theory) are a

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fundamental and physical experience for every new forms of live performance or installation,
radio listener (at least that is how I feel). A voice which allow it to move beyond radio and to find
can have a similar impact on a listener as the ways to engage the public in a more direct sense.
movements of an actor have on the audience of a To support this, it is important that public radio
film or a theatre performance – you fall unwillingly stations open themselves up to new ways of
into the same rhythm, unconsciously imitating and producing and presenting radio art, that they
reflecting what you see or hear, like a mirror. This preserve money, resources and programme-slots in
power of the voice was placed under suspicion for their schedule for experiments (despite facing
a while, at least in Germany, where it used to play a further reductions and centralizations in the
certain role in radio propaganda during the expensive departments of radio drama and radio
Nazi-era. It was attacked by some exponents of the documentary), and that they open their archives,
‘Neues Hörspiel’ (New Radio Play) movement in support upcoming talents and realize the chance
the 1970s. But now it seems to be back on the of finding partners and live-audiences in a broader
agenda of radio art, and there are different cultural scene. And it is vital that on the other hand
approaches to how to deal with this power, theatres, festivals, universities and other cultural
bringing forth critical thought about perception players are ready to cooperate with public radios,
and a variety of tones. to support independent (art-) radio and to
Thirdly (and closely related to the second point), introduce radio art into new contexts.
there is a great and still growing group of works
that deal very playfully with the style of links to artists
documentary and fake facts, quotes or sounds. http://www.90-prozent-wasser.de/bohlen.html
Radio has the potential to mix ‘real’ reporting and http://www.chriswatson.net/
‘authentic’ fiction (Orson Welles’s famous radio
http://www.coderecords.de
play War of the Worlds, CBS [1938], is the best-
http://www.katharinafranck.de/
known example for this method). Since the early
1990s, genuine radio-artists like Hermann Bohlen http://ligna.blogspot.com/
and Walter Filz (later followed by the duo Serotonin http://www.rimini-protokoll.de/
and others) have been working in a very subtle way
with mixed material from radio archives and other
found footage. Standing in the tradition of the work
with ‘original recordings‘ as developed by the
‘Neues Hörspiel’-movement, they have a more
light and playful attitude.
These three tendencies represent a quite
subjective choice and, at the same time, express
which artistic ideas I would like to take with us into
the twenty-first century.
New aesthetics need new forms of production
and, especially, of cooperation. Talking about
institutional frameworks, I find it very encouraging
to see that artists and cultural institutions like
theatres, art spaces, media festivals and media
schools as well as cultural theory in general are
increasingly more interested in sound and sound
art, in radio and its aesthetic potential. Radio art
thus has already found new places of presentation,

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When I was asked to take part in a workshop The word ‘material’ to me seems crucial for the
entitled ‘The Future of the Text‘ (at the conference debate about the ‘future of texts’. This ‘material’
on ‘European Dramaturgy in the 21st Century’ in provides us not only with ideas, questions and
Frankfurt in 2007), my first reaction was: ‘Why have themes but also with images, actions and, last but
they asked me?’ Among all the things in the theatre not least, something to do and to say on stage.
that I am interested in, texts don’t play a big role. But how can this material be found and, more
Giving it a second thought, though, I realized that importantly, transformed into something that is
I had reduced the word ‘text’ to mean ‘dramatic worth being put up on a stage? This is where
text’ or ‘play’ or ‘drama’, but obviously ‘text’ means dramaturgy comes in. A dramaturg is a person
much more than that. (I am not referring here to involved not only in tracking down interesting
the idea of performance as text but to a very simple material but also in shaping and trimming it,
understanding of ‘text’ as any way in which a condensing and reducing it. The big question is:
language is being used on stage). In fact, almost how should this be done? I guess there are hardly
all of the productions I have been involved in over any limitations to where such material can be
the last few years were text-based in one way or found or how it should be assembled. Maybe the
another. only way to find out how to do it this by trial and
If not drama, what kinds of text are we talking error.
about? Where do these texts come from, and what So, what about the ‘future of the text’? I do not
can be done with them? Over two seasons at have an answer but have many questions to ask.
Schauspiel Stuttgart (2006–7), I worked twice with First of all, I imagine the future of theatre to be
René Pollesch, who incorporates theoretical texts, pretty pluralistic, meaning that different kinds of
film clips, pop music and personal experience in theatre will cater for different tastes and needs of
his productions. I was dramaturg in a project that different audiences –– or the other way around. Of
combined nineteenth-century spiritual music with course there will still be an interest in classical
texts by Hölderlin, Max Weber and Joseph Beuys, drama, because there still is and will be a huge
curated two festivals for performance projects and audience for it. (And there is nothing wrong with
worked on adaptations of the Odyssee and a highly that.) At the same time, artists will continue to use
experimental novel by Virginia Woolf. I also worked other sources, and I expect this approach to
on a project with Hans-Werner Kroesinger, in which become even more popular. But – and here are my
legal records formed the basis of the performance. questions – where will this leave the author, the
Looking at Schauspiel Stuttgart’s programme, playwright or dramatist? Do we need university
you will find adaptations of novels and movies and programmes for dramatic writing? Who will come
a large number of ‘projects’ as well as new plays. Of up with and write down the things the performers
course, as the largest municipal theatre in the on stage will actually say? What will the
region we also produce ‘classics’, but it is fair to say collaboration between author and dramaturg look
that a lot – if not most – of the productions we work like? Will the dramaturg become a kind of writer,
on draw on sources other than traditional drama. too – in addition to his or her job as a curator,
For us, novels or movies are sometimes a greater producer, communicator and interpreter? Are there
inspiration than traditional plays. Quite often, plays any rules as to how to put together what research
reduce complex realities to simple dramatic and improvisation and adaptation have produced?
structures in order to work well. We look for What will these new texts, which develop out of
sources that provide us with more or different research and take shape in rehearsals, look like?
material than can be found in the majority of Can they be separated from the performance?
dramatic literature and that also enable us to look Should they exist separately?
at things from different angles, using more
complex dramaturgies.

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THE WELL-PREPARED IMPROVISATION performance took place during the rehearsals and
grew out of the inputs of the actors, dancers,
A rather strong, and trendy, contempt for the musicians, composer and light designer who made
notion of text is not unusual these days. up the production team. This led to a dynamic
Contrasting text-based theatre with theatre of interaction between chance, spontaneity,
images or physical theatre is not necessarily improvisation, sudden inspirations and
productive, either in academic theatre research or unpredictabilities on one hand, and a thorough,
in creative theatrical practice. Such a simplified way preparatory process of research and preproduction
of opposing various categories of theatre may on the other. What kind of process is that? It is not
become in fact a cul-de-sac. In the area of research, a devising theatrical process, even if it in many
it risks confirming conventional categorizations, ways looks like one. The playwright, who was also
instead of opening different strategies, even in the director and the set designer, created the text
reference to historical material. In theatre practice, as an integrated part of the overall musical totality
an underestimation of text tends to lead to a in constant collaboration with the composer who
disregard of, for instance, one of the actor’s most was present during the entire rehearsal process.
valuable instruments, the voice. The voice as a The process of producing Transit was in a way
corporeal fact, which communicates through very Italian. It looked like improvisation. The
sound and rhythm, is frequently no longer trained, classic Italian professional secret lies in the fact
probably as it is considered to be polluted with the that nothing should be as well-prepared as
notion of text and the ‘meaning’ of literature. improvisation. My role as a dramaturg was to be
Nevertheless, it is known from brain research that the audience, the ideal spectator. This meant, to a
it is precisely rhythm, sound and metaphor that great extent, to insist on reduction; on identifying
have an enormous impact on a recipient. what was the least necessary to articulate; and then
I recently worked with the stage director to argue for doing even less than that. Or the
Giacomo Ravicchio, artistic director of Meridiano opposite. What is thought to be clear frequently is
Teatret, who was, at the same time, the not. Modifications had to be made in different
production’s playwright and the set designer. The registers; visual, sonorous, structural. The
production, called Transit, which premiered in production was a musically sensuous and sensual
October 2007, included nine actors or performers, totality and a ‘sponge’, to borrow a term from Jan
among them a dancer and a musician, from Kott. It absorbed and emitted. One has to train a
various ethnic backgrounds. The story took place dialectical movement of intuition and reflection.
in Frankfurt airport, where the nine characters, This working method was in fact not that
arriving from different parts of the world, had different from the other practice of mine which is
become trapped in a kind of limbo when all flights focused very much on classics, especially on plays
were cancelled for reasons unknown – the airport by the eighteenth-century Danish playwright Ludvig
terminal represented the place of our collective Holberg. Dramaturgical manoeuvres take place in
terror, a place where one would probably not want close collaboration with the stage director and the
to linger. scenographer, constituting an artistic team. It is
The creative strategy and method we used is best based on systematic academic research. The
described as chaos. The artistic visions for the preparations are spread over a couple of years. It
project dated back maybe many years and, like for all aims to supply the crucial freedom to improvise,
instance the stage set, had been prepared before that is creativity.
the rehearsals began. The actual creation of the

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Having worked for several years in a collective that protocols of performance (not dramaturgy). Our
gathers together two dramaturgs, a philosopher relations are not thematized but translated into the
and four dancer-choreographers, there are a few procedures or paths of the performance (two solos
conclusions and deviations that have sedimented presented as a duet; discussions on the piece
over time and that still trigger our thinking and within the performance; ready-made performance;
practice: non-linear genetics of the material etc.).

– Dramaturgy is the ultimate space of power in – Collaboration between all artists included is there
theatre due to its prescriptiveness, its always for further individuation (not in terms of
already emergent nature and the obviousness of its authorship but in terms of individuated experience
strategies. Dramaturgy is always already there, in perception, language and productive force).
even if we don’t focus on it; its perspectivality
excludes the surplus of all that is vague and volatile – Performances are only markers in time, singular
for the clarity of its strategy to proceed. results of the homogeneity of the past in the
here-and-now, but we bet on the force of
– We as a group of artists were interested in the inventiveness, on time-to-come.
productive rather than the reactive politics of
performance. – A notion of dramaturgy has become a metaphor
for perspectivalization and disciplinarization of
– Our ‘products’ (performances) do not represent knowledge produced in the autonomous artistic
the relational aspects of authorship, the micro- practice; dramaturgy either prescribes or reflects
politics of the group or the organizational aspects new social relations within a performance; it might
of collaboration, but our relations influence the serve as a blueprint for a new social narrative.

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1. Which theatre, performance or dance production in Protokoll, David Weber-Krebs and Boris Charmatz,
recent years did you find particularly important? and, with regard to the sensorial, in particular the
The works of Andrea Bozic, Aitana Cordero, Ivana work of Felix Ruckert, Brice Leroux and deepblue.
Müller, Nicole Beutler, Laurent Chétouane, David
Weber-Krebs and Mette Ingvartsen. 3. What, in your opinion, is the main responsibility of
dramaturgy today? Do theatre and performance need
2. Which artistic tendencies in theatre, performance dramaturgs? And how are their situation and working
and dance do you regard as being important for future methods changing?
dramaturgies? I witness an increase in the work and need for
I regard those artistic tendencies in dance and dramaturgs. I have mixed feelings about this.
performance as full of potential that are dealing Mainly I find that it is part of a general
with questions that have not yet been exhausted. In institutionalization of art-production in dance. It
dance, notions of embodiment continue to seems as if young makers respond to the over-
stimulate the creation of theatrical works but will organization of the dance infrastructure by ‘arming’
take on new directions. I am observing two themselves with support structures, of which the
divergent tensions, which pull at dance from very dramaturg is a part. It shows their capacity to
different aspects: one goes, as it were, back to the organize, but I wonder what is driving this. I detect
autonomist theatrical event, the direction of the a sense of incapacity to participate as free agents in
image, and another moves away from the theatrical, the production of art. It seems as if these makers
seeking a different relationality. think they will never be fully able to organize their
The most striking direction I have been own art production. Perhaps it is part of the
witnessing is the revisiting of the creation of fundamental realization that art-making is less and
imagery in the theatre, as if we were to engage less a matter of individuals and more and more one
again with questions of representation and of groups. To respond to the question of whether
semiotic theory from the 1970s. But instead, this there is a need for dramaturgs, I would say that
revisiting is inspired by very different notions and there is a need for dramaturgy, not necessarily for
engages in a new, radical way with the tension one dramaturg (quoting from a discussion on
between visual culture and bodily experience. In dramaturgy we held in Amsterdam in 1999.)
this sense the work seems not to focus on the This means for dramaturgs that their main
semiotic, but to introduce a new approach to the priority should be to help find optimal conditions
image in the theatre. Not on what the images for the creative process and to keep an open mind
mean, but on what they do, the function of the for the broad range of options that are possible, i.e.,
images, which borrows from existing experiences to avoid the formatting that happens through
but achieves very different effects. I am thinking institutional pressures. There is an increasing
here in particular of the aforementioned works of wealth of experiences and of examples that
Andrea Bozic, Aitana Cordero, Ivana Müller, Nicole dramaturgs can tap into. The increasing academic
Beutler, Laurent Chétouane, David Weber-Krebs attention to art production and analysis here is
and Mette Ingvartsen. both an enormous asset as well as a threat. I see
In general, the issue of creating an event and the relationship between maker and dramaturg as
gathering people continues to be questioned. This extremely case-specific, which means that
is the second tendency I mentioned, which has to strategies for working will necessarily be different in
do with new notions of relationality. It is being every new situation. It will entail any relevant aspect
approached by the use of immersion in installation that the creation of theatre or dance includes.
works, which accentuate the sensorial. I imagine
that new approaches will take on rhetoric as well 4. What are the institutional frameworks that should
and will make use of dramatic enactment. I am be changed in order to encourage and enable
thinking here of the work of Blast Theory, Rimini interesting theatre work?

110


Providing free space to allow new voices to enter the art works for culture in general. Still, art production
art production is a continuing concern. This implies needs to confront the challenge for visibility, or
contesting existing hierarchies in art production and connectivity, to create new communities, for the art
reception and, most of all, creating a climate that to take part in social and political discourse (without
allows for new voices to come through. As the retreating to populist strategies). It will be a
public debate about art has become very challenge to create flexible structures for engaging
institutionalized, this is a challenging agenda. The with the social environment in order to find a
increasing attention in academia to the arts should legitimation of art production and a fruitful
help in the acknowledgment of the importance of exchange between art and society.

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THE ‘ATELEOLOGICAL ENDING’ IN principal ways: centrifuge, parataxis and rhizome.


FRAGMENTED THEATRE WORKS The first depends on a centre or axis. Sarah Kane’s
4.48 Psychosis can be used as an example for this
What kind of ending would avoid finality? What mode. In the case of parataxis there is, in principle,
happens when on the last page or in the last no hierarchy between the elements. However,
seconds before the blackout on stage we come to although there is no hierarchy between the
an end according to our watches but not to the fragments, they together possess a ‘unity’ in the
inherent time of the theatre text or performance? performance which is not a linear causal ‘unity’ but
And if the plot does not offer any kind of a sense in the whole. Hans-Thies Lehmann defines
resolution, would it still be a proper ‘plot’? parataxis as a common trait in postdramatic
My doctoral research has been an attempt to fill theatre. The third alternative is the most radical
the gap in critical discourse about a special, one: the rhizome. As Deleuze and Guattari
strange, uncomfortable kind of ending that indicate, in a rhizome there is no centre, no
disputes about twenty-five centuries of drama hierarchy, no possible connection between the
theory and that, due to its innovative nature, fragments. I point out this alternative although it is
requires new terms that fix its own form and difficult to find examples; the happening is the
meaning. theatrical form that Deleuze most appreciated.
We start at least with an assertion: that this kind After identifying these alternatives in the
of ending appears in texts and performances that disposition of the fragment, which place or
avoid the traditional Aristotelian structure of meaning does the ending in such plays have? We
‘beginning-middle-end’ and the linear scheme of cannot use terms like ‘dénouement’ or
cause-effect. The alternative to these structures is ‘termination’ for an ending that is no longer a
often fragments presented without a rational logic logical consequence of a linear structure. In these
but connected through other ways. I will explain kinds of fragmented alternatives, I see three
what these ways could be, but first I would like to possible ‘functions’ of the ending: (1) an apparently
clarify that in these fragmented plays the ending random interruption of the performance; (2) a goal
loses its traditional value of ‘conclusion’ and even in itself (like Wolfgang Iser indicates in his book
its status as a fragment that is more important The Implied Reader [1974]); (3) a projection of the
than others. In principle, in these fragmented performance, often induced by the illusion of an
plays, each fragment carries the same weight eternal repetition.
within the whole. But this principle can vary, In this brief statement I would like to introduce
depending on the purpose of the artist. Some one more term, one that could be useful in naming
artists break into pieces a play or a performance the peculiar ending of the fragmented play.
that previously had a linear structure. If this Accepting that it has no purpose of finality – unlike
happens the reader or the audience should be able traditional plays – the concept would negate the
to reconstruct the previous story (I am thinking idea of télos. However, I would not like to choose a
here, for example, of Biljana Srbljanovic’s or Rafael term that is preceded by prefixes such as post-,
Spregelburd’s plays). But there are other artists because that itself would then include the idea of
that invent a play by means of different kinds of linearity. I prefer – until I find a better one – the
intuitions or images without thinking in a logical prefix a-, which does not negate but excludes the
structure. In these cases the reader or the audience concept that follows it. As a result, an
is not able to identify a story, or even a plot. René ‘ateleological’ ending does not negate the teleology
Pollesch’s or Chuck Mee’s work often like that. of the linear structure but offers a new alternative
However, most postdramatic performances are a where the terms of dénouement or plot require
hybrid of the first and the second kinds. revision at the hands of theatre theory.
The fragment could be executed, I think, in three

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1. Which theatre, performance or dance production in REFERENCE


recent years did you find particularly important? Iser, Wolfgang (1974) The Implied Reader: Patterns of
communication in prose fiction from Bunyan to Beckett,
Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Eraritjaritjaka by Heiner Goebbels; Die Zehn Gebote
by Christoph Marthaler; Tale of Two Cities by
Heather Woodbury; Der Idiot by Frank Castorf;
Prater Saga by René Pollesch; Red House by John
Jesurun; Isabella’s Room by Jan Lauwers.

2. Which artistic tendencies in theatre, performance


and dance do you regard as being important for future
dramaturgies?

In theatre: the hyperrealistic tendency, which


introduces media aesthetics to the stage. In
performance, the happening form, as exemplified
by some works of Jan Lauwers and Chuck Mee. In
dance, I am interested in the pieces of Trisha
Brown and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. In any
case, I think the majority of future dramaturgies
will refuse the linear/dramatic form and will chose
the paratactic or even the rhizomatic forms.

3. What, in your opinion, is the main responsibility of


dramaturgy today? Do theatre and performance need
dramaturgs? And how are their situation and working
methods changing?

The contemporary dramaturg should be in


permanent contact with the stage and should
prepare texts for the space and the performers. In
my opinion, the theatre text today is just one
element among many components of the theatre
production.

4. What are the institutional frameworks that should


be changed in order to encourage and enable
interesting theatre work?

I come from Barcelona, and in my country there is


a huge difference between alternative theatre and
conventional theatre. I would like our government
to finance the radical theatre and the small theatre
spaces, too. Furthermore, the ‘professional’
manner of most of our theatre prevents the small
productions from being presented.

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