A brand-new workshop by Peter Stamer on history, theory, and practice of that strange thing called dramaturgy from 8 – 13 July, 2017 in Viljandi, Estonia

Dramaturgy Surprise contains the sweet taste of theory, with quite some practical applications and a biiiiig surprise in every single session. The combination of these three elements creates a world of fun and entertainment that helps artists to develop their imagination while reassuring professionalism at the same time.

Sometimes, the dramaturg is supposed to act like a plumber who is called to fix a leaking water pump before the apartment is flooded. In other words: s/he is summoned to repair a project that otherwise seems to go wrong. Yet, the dramaturg acting like an expert conceals that his/her technique and knowledge reach beyond one’s singular expertise, rather comprises strategies of potential meaning-making within a pre-given horizon of expectation and cultural reference. In other words: everyone can act like his/her own plumber once s/he understands the functioning of a given installation.

In this workshop we will take a close look into theories of dramaturgy as they were developed since Aristotle’s time and will play around with diverse practical approaches to contemporary dramaturgies as they appear in nowaday’s dance pieces. Let’s shake up that thing!

Workshop on 8 – 13 July, 2017 at NOTAFE Festival in Viljandi, Estonia

No soap radio

So we looked into the history of drama theory, touched upon Aristotle, Lessing, Brecht, Bausch, and the post-dramatic bunch, discussed topics of post-dramaturgical ordering of contents and landed at the smallest unit of narrative that challenges dramaturgy and shakes it down to its bones: jokes. We started telling jokes, good ones, bad ones, hilarious anti-jokes and lame super-jokes. Their unifying features: setting the frame, built-up, creation of suspense, punchline. So good, so simple. By analysing these features we discerned possibilities for variation such as deception of expectation, underacting, voluntary confusion, substitution of characters and actions, focus displacement, narrative embellishment, playing with cultural clichés, deferral of content, smuggling other jokes in, etc.:

Items to be considered

Nadine Portillo composed that chart (thanks!) during the workshop which helped us to get a glimpse of possibilities when practicing the entire spectrum of one single joke of the following type: ‘Three men walk into a bar. A tall one, a short one, and a fat one. The tall one takes a seat at the counter and orders a beer. The short one sits down and orders a whiskey, and the fat one orders a diet coke. The tall one turns to the short one and says:…’ But right before the punchline, some of the other players interrupts the joke-teller and starts with a new version of the same joke, until that joke is being interrupted by yet another verison. This scheme could be varied endlessly, creating a stream of events, actions, encounters through which that bar becomes – the world.

Workshop presentation “No soap radio”, Photo: Björn Portillo