Monday, 5 December 2016

Dramaturgy Does Not Determine Destiny

Wherever dramaturgy is conceived as a practice of thought in advance of the event, it will be collapsed into a form of authorship and covert power; the dramaturg will become another name for ‘author,’ ‘director,’ or ‘choreographer.’ Dramaturgy does not belong to a subject or to a resolved temporality. Dramaturgy, if it is anything, is a practice that enables us to shake off intentional fallacies and disrupt economies founded on notions of individualism.

Gee, thanks, Adrian Heathfield. Way to start an article that attempts to reclaim dramaturgy from the dramaturg: I always believe that the best way to introduce an idea is to mystify its meaning with cod-academic verbiage. 

For the record, Heathfield's conclusion follows my own instincts: dramaturgy has moved beyond the theatrical event, and informs (and is informed by) sociology, and does not belong exclusively to the dramaturg. However, the arrogance of Heathfield's tone - the essay contains a series of dogmatic assertions - and the use of ideologically driven terminology may help to explain why dramaturgy has become a toxic idea. 

Let's take that definition again.

Dramaturgy, if it is anything, is a practice that enables us to shake off intentional fallacies and disrupt economies founded on notions of individualism.

'If it is anything'. 'If it is anything'. It serves only to attack individualism, does it? Heathfield offers nothing so simple as a definition of this practice: instead, dramaturgy is an instrument, a weapon against 'intentional fallacies', a phrase I am going to look up online.

 Where do I begin? If the author is serious about deconstructing the notion of authorial intent, maybe not having their name above the essay might help. Okay, yes, it's a provocation, and leaving the argument loose helps the debate, but... but... reducing dramaturgy to a tool for a political agenda ignores so much research, so many potential uses.

Back to the language: if dramaturgy can liberate the spectator from the tyranny of the artist - that is, to become the co-author of meaning, and have confidence in asserting their own interpretation - hedging it inside a bunch of fancy terms won't help. Coherent explanation, the relationship of theory to the specific event... why hide? 




No comments :

Post a comment