The elusive part of the “dramaturg”

L’insaisissable part du «dramaturg»

Photo: Yves Renaud
A scene from “Pelléas and Mélisande,” directed by Christian Lapointe, a regular work with a “dramaturg”.

The very title of the worker in the shade seems to be a matter of debate. Should one say, dramaturg, word borrowed from Germany, where the function has been created ? Advisor drama is often used, but it also refers to those who accompany only to the authors. Stéphane Lépine, “veteran” of this role in Quebec, on the strength of his collaboration with Brigitte Haentjens from 1995 to 2008, uses the term playwright, even if it leads to confusion with the profession of dramatic author. Some also say dramaturgy of tea to refer to the accompanying directors.

One thing is for certain, they are more likely to enroll their names in the programs of some shows. Many of these playwrights are graduates of theatre studies at the École supérieure de théâtre de l’UQAM. “It’s my fault, it was I who formed the new generation,” says Lépine in kidding, that offering the course on the dramaturge since 2009. They — or they, because it would be mostly women — are changing the theatrical landscape of montreal, ” he adds. “We feel that a new generation of directors understands the importance of a dramaturge in the development of a representation or writing a text. “And what would promote this growth, according to him, it is that UQAM imposes playwrights in productions that are directed by third year. This is where several film directors invited to discover this role and ” realize that it can be devilishly useful.”

According to protean

Stéphane Lépine defines the playwright as an ” intellectual in a production “. “He is there to answer questions socio-historico-aesthetic, helping to situate a work in its context. To assist in the establishment of the text, in some cases. “

His research will allow the production team to ” take its decisions based on a real understanding of the issues “. It sometimes works strictly on the analysis of the text, such as on the Quartet that will soon Solène Ready to go. Or in close collaboration with the director, such as James Hyndman on his next Scenes of the conjugal life.

But the role is changing, it fluctuates according to the playwrights, the projects and creators they support. “It is a function that denies any definition, recognizes Sophie Devirieux. It is without doubt what makes his interest : it is to be reinvented each time. Each person practice a little differently, too. With a approach and a different sensitivity. “

L’insaisissable part du «dramaturg»

Photo: Pascal Sanchez
Celine Bonnier in “The bell jar”, staged by Brigitte Haentjens, and the dramatisation was signed by Stéphane Lépine

According to the dramaturg on Myth, which has notably worked on In the Republic of happiness, the exercise of this supporting role requires a great intellectual curiosity and great listening. “You must know how to indent. “

All agree : the playwright is first of all a privileged interlocutor of the creator who commits him. “It is in the relationship and the dialogue that my function is defined “, summarizes Andréane Roy, who works with playwrights, and is said to have learned a little about his role, ” a work both intellectual and sensitive “, with Christian Lapointe (Pelléas and Mélisande,The rest, you know the movie…). “It was a peculiar position : it is [both] inside and outside the project. It is involved, but in the end, in rehearsal, I try to take a little distance to have some perspective. “

For Christian Lapointe, who use it almost always now, the dramaturg is his first collaborator, with whom he will often start trading from the beginning of the artistic process, a few years before the performances. One of its roles is ” to take [them] out of [its] isolation.”

In addition to feeding the upstream development team by its summaries of the reading, the dramaturg (a role different from that of the advisor dramatic art, he says) is similar to a “psychoanalyst of the representation,” adds the director, who alternates its staff according to the nature of the projects. In rehearsal, this person has ” baggage encyclopedic “, is careful to identify all of the symbols or cultural references that emerge from the show, to highlight all of the openings of the senses as possible. “It allows you to control a bit more the elements of meaning that are presented to the spectators. “

Not a guarantee

Are there circumstances where it is particularly useful to use a playwright ? Sophie Devirieux responds with extreme caution : “If there had been a team of advisors plays on SLĀV, it may be that discussions would have taken place in rehearsals. I’m not saying that the counsel of drama [protect] the work against any ethical problem. […] I’m just saying that this is the kind of work you can do with an artist : ask questions. “It is a kind of joker in the team, the advisor dramatic art, she summarizes. Stéphane Lépine is often said that it is the thorn in the foot of his artist. This is someone who will be breaking an artist in her convictions. “

If it helps deepen the work of the playwright does not guarantee the success of the show. “I’m not here to prevent that it is a mistake “, said the playwright of Because the night, Andréane Roy.

The playwright must not “especially” not influence or judge the artistic process, warns Stéphane Lépine : “I can be in complete disagreement with what the director is ultimately going to offer in the way of reading it, but I have provided the necessary tools so that he can go to the end of his proposal. It is always at the service of the artist. “

In the hectic pace of a creation, the playwright provides the creator a time of reflection away from the constraints of production, writes Sophie Devirieux. It allows you to discuss the meaning of ad libin some way, without always calculate the ” costs and feasibility. Andréane Roy insists on the value of this research. “In a system where you must ensure that each production to be successful, there is something radical to appreciate the slow pace, the dialogue, the research. It’s almost a posture of resistance. “

Still marginal

The employment of playwrights, however, remain in the minority here. The discrete function is still little known. “At this time, it is often the young stage directors, or those a little margin, which appeal to a playwright, notes Stéphane Lépine. While, in the larger institutions, we are afraid. It is linked to anti-intellectualism deep in Quebec. “

For Christian Lapointe, it is simply a budgetary issue. “This is a person more to pay ! But in fact, after that, everyone can take advantage of the [fruit of its research]. “To him, in any case, no longer wants to go. “The work of the dramaturg, nobody else does. “