In this episode, we talk to Karthika Naïr and Eva Martinez about the role of dramaturgy.
An artist’s creation space is a rather special place to inhabit. It’s vibrant, exciting, tense sometimes nail-biting. And it always feels to me to be an honour to be there. But by the same token, it comes with much responsibility particularly if you are invited not as an onlooker but as a contributor. One role, increasingly in use within the creation process is the role of the dramaturg. But what exactly is this, how do you become one and what benefit can a dramaturg bring to an artistic process?
We start off by discussing what a dramaturg actually is and Karthika shares a clarifying analogy we here at Greenwich Dance will reuse again and again about an elephant…
Our guests have held over the expanse of their careers multiple roles within the creation process and Karthika and Eva clarify some distinctions between writers, producers, dramaturgs, dance scripters and librettists to help us understand the complexity of the work that goes on behind the scenes. We also discover a new word, fabulist, which again will be reused again and again.
We talk a lot about the creation space and the dynamic within, about permissions, boundaries, feedback and respecting both the process and the work itself as well as the collaborators who make it. We weave a basket with our threads of conversation as we touch upon trust and the ways trust can be built (particularly this past year in remote settings), about whether prior relationships need to be established (or not) and whether all artists or only those using narrative would benefit from dramaturgical support. And we discuss, as we often do, the use of language and whether the words ‘authority’ or ‘power’ are ever at play in these settings. Eva makes the point that she has been an activist within an institution for many years and Karthika states that she would never work with anyone she could not disagree with.
And finally, we talk about the importance of acknowledging the plurality of the creative team in crediting and the need to break away from the ‘primacy of the single narrative’, which is so often prevalent in the way that work is presented and marketed to audiences. As ever there seems so much more to discuss and dig into.
Watch from 18:00 to 28:00, to see how a section from Karthika’s book The Honey Hunter is conveyed on stage through animation, movement, lighting, music in Akram Khan Company’s production of Chotto Desh.