Dramaturgy as Mentoring: An Investigation Of Personal Practice
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This thesis investigates contemporary Australian script dramaturgy as a form of mentoring. It analyses conventional dramaturgical practices, and the forms of professional development for dramaturgs and playwrights currently used by the arts industry. These issues are explored through two case studies that are self-reflective descriptions of my dramaturgical practice in different playwrighting contexts. Although there is considerable international literature on the practice of production dramaturgy, there is extremely limited literature on the subject of Australian dramaturgy. While dramaturgy has often been the subject of industry debate, few dramaturgs have discussed or analysed the specificities of their practice. As an extensive investigation of personal dramaturgical practice my thesis is unique, and therefore makes a significant contribution to the literature on Australian dramaturgy. My research discovered that there were considerable congruencies between dramaturgy and mentoring, which constitute the main forms of development for writers and new work in the Australian arts industry. Mentoring theory therefore provides the conceptual framework of my research. My research uses a modified form of feminist phenomenography as its methodology. Data was analysed using a combination of feminist research and phenomenographic techniques. Data was primarily collected through interviews with the research participants; my own work notes; and personal reflections. An inclusive approach to my research invited the participants to comment on and contribute to the analysis of their own interviews and case studies. The first case study describes my experiences as dramaturg for Queensland playwright, Margery Forde in the development of X-Stacy (1998). The second case study describes my experiences in the collaborative development of a satirical cabaret Slings and Arrows (1999) with WIT, an unfunded, feminist theatre group. Each of these case studies represents, respectively, a mentoring partnership and group mentoring. The final chapter draws together the thematic findings from the case studies and the key implications of the Literature Review and Conceptual Framework to address the initial research questions and propose some recommendations based on the research findings. My research demonstrates that there is clear evidence to support an interpretation of dramaturgy as mentoring, but that the arts industry needs to reconsider the methods and methodologies of both practices for contemporary and future relevance. In light of these findings, my research makes a number of recommendations for the arts industry; dramaturgs; educational and training institutions; and funding bodies. These key recommendations include: 1. That the arts industry redefine and implement dramaturgy as a form of mentoring; 2. That dramaturgs develop more accessible and in-depth analysis about their practices in order to demystify the role and purpose of dramaturgy; 3. That relevant training courses and qualifications be established for dramaturgical practice; 4. That funding bodies examine the distribution and amounts of funding and account for long-term investments in the development of playwrights and new work. These recommendations are made on the premise that there are considerable improvements to be made on the current development of Australian playwrights and their work, and to ensure a vibrant, innovative creative future. The introduction of mentoring practices can only improve the discipline or profession of dramaturgs and playwrights in Australia and the quality of their practice.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Vocational, Technology and Arts Education
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