Reflections by Wang Liansheng

30 August 2015, on Writing for Dramaturgy, part of the Dramaturg Apprenticeship Programme under The Garage:

“I remembered the very first question Dr Loon asked at the first session of The Garage was, “What do you think Dramaturgy is”? At that instant, I didn’t know. After all, I was someone who didn’t graduate with an arts-related degree.

I recalled that the dramaturgs I knew, in Singapore, were mostly academics. I guessed that the process of dramaturgy probably involved a lot of (academic) research. The dramaturg perhaps acts as a sounding board or the third-eye for the Director.

As I went into the readings prescribed by Dr Loon, dramaturgy became less and less of an amorphous concept. I particularly love the definition provided in Dramaturgy and Performance by Cathy Turner and Synne K. Behrndt; The dramaturgy of a play can best be described as its “composition”, “structure” or “fabric”, and in a more sophisticated phrase, “the contextual analysis where the performance is considered as part of a wider network of meaning”.

During the first phase of The Garage, I discovered that there are different models of dramaturgy (from the readings in Dramaturgy and Performance), that there is somewhat a framework to analyse performance (as introduced through the readings of Esslin and Pavis) and that there is indeed a need for a lot of research (as learnt through the two assignments set by Dr Loon). I also found out (and affirmed) my shortcomings, in particular, my inability to ascribe fuller meanings to concepts and vocabulary often used in the critical analysis of performance (because these terms were not a part of my vocabulary to begin with).

I am excited to see how the concepts and knowledge acquired from the first phase translates into something tangible during the phase of being an observer-dramaturg. I am also excited to observe the rehearsal practices of other practitioners during the 2nd phase of The Garage.

After all, what is knowledge when it cannot be applied to practice? ”

~ Wang Liansheng, Dramaturg Apprentice 2015