thaumaturg Main Entry: thau·ma·turg
Etymology: French, from New Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos working miracles, from thaumat-, thauma miracle + ergon work — more at Theater, Work
The official blog of the Dramaturgy Department at Baltimore's CENTERSTAGE. For posts related to our current and upcoming shows, click the links to the right. Alternatively, you could begin at the beginning, and explore our posts in chronological order.
Fairy tales can come true, the old song goes; it can happen to you, apparently, if you’re young at heart. Whether one believes this hopeful sentiment, and regardless of the age of one’s internal organs, there’s no doubt that fairy tales have for the past couple of years — and into the foreseeable future — been coming pretty regularly to screens both big and small, achieving, you could say, at least the kind of quasi-truth that movies and television can concoct.
Giuseppina Bozzacchi as Swanilda in the original Saint-Léon/Delibes production of the ballet Coppélia, which premiered in Paris in 1870. (The young dancer died of smallpox only about a year later). The ballet is based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Sandman, and bears some resemblance to elements in another of his stories that inspired The Nutcracker. The works of Hoffmann, and in particular the figure of the toymaker and his life-like mechanical dolls, are at the core of director Mark Lamos’ take on Sondheim’s Into the Woods, currently in rehearsal to open at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore in a few weeks. Faint glimmers of Coppelia have appeared in some of the show choreography, to close the loop.
The company around the table at Illusion Theater in Minneapolis—working through the text of Marion McClinton’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s monumental Jazz as part of the Fresh Ink series, in conjunction with The Playwrights Center and CENTERSTAGE.
In the Twin Cities for week of workshopping the stage adapation of Toni Morrison’s novel Jazz — and noticed that here in Minneapolis, they’re so clean and considerate and friendly that the downtown maintenance service even scrubs the newspaper dispensers. Seriously: this wonderful, hard-working woman, who was cheerfully saying hello and good morning to every passerby, took out cloth and spray cleaner and proceeded to give the whole rank of dispensers an enviable once-over.
“History is over, you all, and everything is ahead at last. People sitting around thinking future thoughts about projects and bridges and fast-clicking trains-clickety-clacking-lickety-splitting trains screaming underneath.” -Toni Morrison in JAZZ (adapt Marion McClinton)
- Romare Bearden’s “Fly Away: The Great Migration”
I seem to be a glutton for punishment whenever I can pick books for fun.
Summer 2010 I was interning at Centerstage, and got to put together a preliminary actor packet in prep for a three-actor adaptation to be staged in the spring of 2011. December 2010, I was combing through DJ Ernst…
“The Most Excellent Comedie and Tragical Romance of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, otherwise known as an adaptation of the movie’s entire screenplay loaded into Bard-ian vernacular.” Someone had waaaaaay too much time on his hands. NOT us here, where we are in Dostoevskyland these days, but from a NY-based Lebowski buff & aspiring screenwriter.
Last year CENTERSTAGE presented the Lookingglass Theatre adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne). True to Verne’s original, there was no balloon travel, though there was an exquisitely imagined escape-by-elephant. Now, somewhat belatedly, comes this handy advice on how (or maybe how NOT) to mount and ride a mighty pachyderm.
My only observation, other than it’s a three-actor adaptation of a well-known classic, is that it is about the possibility of redemption in a time when that message is needed, perhaps more than ever. The idea that someone can change, and change profoundly for the good, seems to be extremely resonant with audiences.
Curt Columbus, co-adapter of Crime & Punishment, responding to the question of why the piece has proved so popular at so many theaters all over the country.
From an author’s blog—specifically, Mo Willems, author and now adapter of children’s lit favorite Knuffle Bunny—comes this marvelous paean to dramaturgs (despite the somewhat fraught alternate spelling—dramaturg vs. dramaturge; subject for another debate, another time).
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I’ve been working on a really fun project the last 4 months or so, but have been unable to chat about it until now:
The musical was commissioned by the Kennedy Center, and unlike the British Touring Production of the Pigeon Books, the book and lyrics will be written by, uh, me…
I promise the show will be a wild ride, filled with clever projections, Bunraku Puppets, dance, and at least one song in utter gibberish.
Tentative plans are for the show to run at the Kennedy Center in DC starting in May 2010 and then to travel around the country. I do hope you’ll make plans to check it out if it comes to your neighborhood.
Of course, something this big can’t be done alone. So, I’ll be heavily relying on the musical talents of Michael Silversher, the producesorial talents of the Kennedy Center’s Kim Kovac, and the brilliance of Dramaturge [ahem-sic]Megan Alruz (note: if you ever get the chance to get your own Dramaturge, do it! They’re awesome. The thought of losing my Dramaturge to other dramaturgically needy projects in the future fills me with dread. And, as long as you’re getting a Dramaturge, get Megan. She rocks.)
Sigh. First it was Disney’s balloon (“not in the book” as they declaim in Eason’s deliciously self-aware and faithful adaptation); then it was the CGI-driven departure from Verne’s original chronicled in this interesting, fairly technical blog post. Variations on this liberty-seizing pattern (most of them wanting to get the story airborne) are by now a well-entrenched part of the tradition of this poor book, which nevertheless endures. When the program material for our production goes online, read Drew’s ruminations on the subject in his extended profile of the many sides of Verne himself; from the very first, his writing, and 80 Days in particular, have proven prone to each new generation inscribing its own “take.” -ghw
Une Voyage dans la Lune, a silent film released in 1902 by Georges Méliès, is one of my favorite bits of Verne cultural ephemera. Heavily inspired by Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, Méliès created one of the first and most memorable works of cinematic science-fiction. Particularly iconic: the man in the moon, grumbling after the rocket ship lands in one of his eyes, and the moonmen, a lizardlike people wielding tridents who disappear in a video-game-esque puff of smoke when struck. -DL