Conant theater adds dramaturgy to their drama program
When you hear the word Dramaturgy, what do you think? Maybe something with that has to do with drama? A weird hybrid of the arts program? What about an encyclopedia of all the background information about any play or musical? If you thought of this third option, you thought right! James B. Conant High School launched a dramaturgy program last year, to provide opportunities for students to experience a new side of theater.
This dramaturgy program is unique, being one of the only programs for high school students in the country. Stephanie Svarz, an English teacher at Conant first incorporated dramaturgical research into Conant's production of Fiddler on the Roof. Initially, only one student was willing to do research outside of school work, creating dramaturgy materials for a lobby display. After some serious recruiting for the spring play, nine students took the plunge into the Dramaturgy world and this year, the program includes more than 18 students.
Now you might ask, what even is Dramaturgy? The official definition is: "The art or technique of dramatic composition and theatrical representation," But what does this mean to the students? "Dramaturgy is a way to see your show in a different light. Knowing the history behind a musical or play can give you a whole new appreciation for the production that you wouldn't have had without the dramaturgy experience," said sophomore Emmy Erhardt, who manages the social media for the program. There are many aspects of Dramaturgy besides researching background information. Students design and maintain a website, create resources for the cast and audience, including a lobby display for each show. The lobby display for Fiddler on the Roof included different of artifacts that related to Jewish culture including a challah, candle sticks, prayer books and yes, a fiddle. Other displays included interactive wall art, websites and photobooths.
"Dramaturgy is a place to explore the quirky little and big things that you are personally interested in. It allows you to dig deeper within your thoughts and get excited about your passions ." said Alyssa Bolbot, a junior at Conant who does background research for the plays and musicals. Dramaturgy means a lot of things to a lot of people. Each definition is unique and special to the person with their own experience.
"That's really the essence of the experience I'm trying to create." said Svarz, "I want each student and audience member to walk away from our productions having had that unique experience, one you can only get in the theater. It highlights our students' talent and hard work and brings an additional dimension to the shows." This year's season includes The Addams Family, subText and Romeo and Juliet.