Practical Dramaturgy for Actors: Applying Resources of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the Challenges of Language and Preparation
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This dissertation investigates the relationship between acting and dramaturgy. It proposes a change in the contemporary actor's work to more purposefully integrate practical dramaturgy as a preparation that parallels character analysis. Despite how the actor's focus frequently aligns with character, current trends in American playwriting suggest a need for a different approach as well because many plays defy expectations for the kind of naturalistic, character-driven acting that suits plays written in the style of realism. New playwriting, especially as codified by Paul C. Castagno, reflects a need for the actor to focus on other dramaturgical structures. In response, this dissertation considers the actor's dramaturgical approach. It expands upon Geoffrey Proehl's concept of "dramaturgical sensibility" as it relates to the dramaturg and explores the actor's dramaturgical sensibility. Research into production processes at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival reveals a scope for the actor's dramaturgical sensibility through three kinds of awareness beyond character: story, language, and performance structures. This foundation then informs a proposed process of dramaturgical script analysis, which functions as a practical dramaturgy for actors. This project also includes a secondary case study related to a University of Oregon production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, which helps to establish the components of dramaturgical script analysis for actors. In order to consider a benefit for actors in response to new playwriting strategies, the same components are then applied to two contemporary plays: Apparition: An Uneasy Play of the Underknown by Anne Washburn and God's Ear by Jenny Schwartz. The process overall reveals a persistent binary related to internal and external preparation for actors and a resistance to new methods owing to lack of time in processes of contemporary theatrical production. Ultimately, however, outcomes also suggests how a practical dramaturgy for actors may expand the actor's work in any context and may support various theatrical production processes in the United States by maximizing the actor's ability to discern the needs of a play.