The Thaumaturgy Department

(It's dramaturgy, not thaumaturgy.)


Main Entry: thau·ma·turg
Pronunciation: \ˈthȯ-mə-ˌtərj\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from New Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos working miracles, from thaumat-, thauma miracle + ergon work — more at Theater, Work

2014-2015 Season:
Next to Normal
It's A Wonderful Life
One Night in Miami
Herzog Rep
After the Revolution
4000 Miles
Play Labs

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.


In the theatre we always return to the same point: it is not enough for writers and actors to experience this compulsive necessity, audiences must share it, too. So in this sense it is not just a question of wooing an audience. It is an even harder matter of creating works that evoke in audiences an undeniable hunger and thirst Peter Brook, The Empty Space (via dramaturgyqandalyson)

(via dramaturgytea)

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Transparent, or one-way glass?

Works-in-process in an everyone-is-a-critic-now world.
Blog post by Diane Ragsdale


If inviting general audiences into the artistic process now means potentially inviting them to share their feedback with the world does this change how we think about presenting works-in-development for public audiences?

Perhaps I have a skewed perception, but it strikes me that over the past couple decades (at least in the US) arts organizations have increasingly presented half- or nearly-baked works to the public and (in many cases) charged them money for the privilege of seeing this work. For a variety of reasons, we have invited patrons into the process and have sold them on the idea that (1) this will increase their knowledge and understanding of an artform or (2) their presence and feedback will be valuable to the creators. […]

Recently there has been a good deal of chatter and discussion about the impact of amateur critics or passionate patrons (and recently a professional critic or two) blogging or tweeting reviews or comments on works ‘in development’ or shows ‘in preview’. In general it seems these have been seen by artists and producers as breaches of trust. But given the growing power and influence of consumers, and given that we have welcomed them in and charged them money and promoted the importance of their presence and opinions, is it any wonder that they now want (or feel entitled or even encouraged) to blog about their experiences? …

To read the full post go to:

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Elderly Man: I am petrified of finding out what is going to happen in Act Two. Should we leave now before one of them, God forbid, takes off his clothes???

Elderly Woman: You just gave me a reason to stay!! (big laugh!)

Overheard in the lobby at intermission of Pinter’s The Homecoming.

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"Lives were touched … and a conversation has been started"

A note sent to the cast and crew of ReEntry, after its recent engagement at Parris Island, performing for USMC recruits. 

Dear Cast of ReEntry,

Honestly, I did not want yesterday to end.  Perhaps you’ve had many experiences like that in theatre.  I still am trying to figure out why but I think that it has to do with the relationships formed in such a short time, the raw truth being shared and the noble cause of people desiring to help other people.  I saw all of this in you and your performance.

It was awesome - awe inspiring and I thank you.

I know that numbers are not important but from my estimation we had 300 people at MCAS base theatre on Thursday 750 people at MCRD Recruit Chapel on Friday morning and 150 people at MCRD Recruit Chapel for Friday evening

Lives were touched because of you and a conversation has been started here.

Please know of my continued support and prayers not only for the ReEntry “project” but also for you individually in your careers and also in your lives.

Very Respectfully,

Deputy Regimental Chaplain
MCRD Parris Island

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Stage Matters (by Theatre Communications Group): A short video from TCG exploring whether, and how, theater matters. Thoughts?

Tags | theater, | tcg | art | audience | Arts

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Tags | attendance | audience

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Hold, or cut bowstrings…

Never really fully understand that Bottom line from Midsummer, though it’s fun. But be that as it may, we’ve reached the critical moment when actual, paying audiences (patrons? customers? collaborators? theater junkies?) get let in to watch the result of a year’s worth of work.

We’ve now had a final dress rehearsal for staff and invited guests, Tuesday night, and that was a riot and a half, a truly vital reception (next time you get an invite from us to attend one of these, say yes!). It also helped fine-tune the production. And now we’ve had a few previews to try some adjustments and work out more kinks.

From our perspective, it’s great to see and hear directly from audiences that the play actually makes sense, that they follow it, that it lands. Great to hear that text revisions we made worked, or that choices the cast and director made to illuminate a relationship or moment, work. We’ve passed on pages and pages of notes for the director to add to her own, everything from large-scale overall narrative observations to minute questions about a piece of jewelry, say. We’ve made a few more line changes to try out tonight (can we really avoid the impression of pregnacy by substituting for “a fullness of the blood” a line from elsewhere in the play—“the overflux of youth?” Amazing how many ways they had in Early Modern England to say Horny!

The added figure of La Morte, the angel of death who glides through the show, came in for some consideration, and it looks as if she’ll be added into a few additional spots and perhaps further conceived just a bit, to help complete the thematic and theatrical notion she conveys. Subtly, we hope.

Subtlety would NOT apply to the gouts and gallons of blood getting used in the play’s gore-loaded finale; audiences have been responding with delicious delight and horror to the macabre, body-strewn climax. Pack a poncho and come check it out.

And if you’re someone who’s been following along and has now seen the show, or comes to see it during its run, you are welcome not only to post a note here but to email us at We’d love to hear your responses or reactions.


[ok, a little reward; not to give any/everything away, but here’s one of Richard Anderson’s brilliant production photos:

Things, as you can see, get pretty active and violent come the last scene….]

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