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Building the Container of the Room: Ethics, Power, Enacted Values, and Production Dramaturgy

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This written document supports and references Charles (Charlie) Peters’ thesis work, a theatre production of Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings presented as part of the 2021 Studio Theatre season on which the author worked as production dramaturg. Peters uses this production as a case-study to reflect on the production dramaturg’s role and to explore power dynamics in mainstream theatrical rehearsal processes. The document explores the possibilities for director-dramaturg collaboration, articulating some of the possibilities for grounding this work in a commitment to embodied ethics especially via analyses of power dynamics and a commitment to the living out of articulated values.

    Beginning with an exploration of ethical concerns in contemporary theatre making, the first chapter discusses the role of the production dramaturg generally and then in relation to ethics and The Secret in the Wings more specifically. The chapter then outlines two processes employed on the aforementioned production: a power literacy analysis and a values document. The power literacy work is based on a framework created by Goodwill and Kennisland for use by participatory designers while the values work is inspired by Algonquin and Irish theatre artist Yvette Nolan. The second chapter analyzes the many production dramaturgy tasks Peters undertook for The Secret in the Wings through the lens of how they were informed by the insights offered by these two processes. This chapter includes a summary of interviews undertaken with members of the production team which offer multiple perspectives on the process. The final chapter focuses on audience engagement practices that were undertaken for The Secret in the Wings and how they were informed by ethical considerations surrounding artist-audience relations as well as the values articulated for the creative process.

    Without making universal claims about theatrical processes, production dramaturgy, or audience engagement, Peters includes reflections on successes, limitations, and possible future adaptations of the dramaturgical and ethical thinking carried out on The Secret in the Wings.

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
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  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International