My mahi as dramaturg
I began my exploration into dramaturgy knowing that while the word itself was centered in Euro-centric traditions, the act of dramaturgy itself was not necessarily exclusive to the practice of 'Western theatre'. Having completed my honours thesis on the Sacred and Sublime - an exploration of Indigenous aesthetics, my research involved embracing deep listening practices as I spent time with different Indigenous storytellers and academics.
This, in turn, enabled an understanding of dramaturgy that was sculpted by the largely unseen but tangible forces that are involved in the creation and endurance of a work. These include the land and its history, the position and relations the playwright held to the land, the narrative and its story, the importance of language, and the need to ensure the work on stage enabled and elevated the community who shared in that story.
Monique Mojica, Guna-Rappahannock playwright, performer, and dramaturge, has been my mentor since 2014 and continues to play a pivotal role in supporting me. Since returning to Aotearoa, NZ after five years in Australia and two years of traveling, including spending time with Mojica in London and Toronto, I then began a deep and lengthy exploration of dramaturgy in Aotearoa. This resulted in a two-part series that drew upon my conversations with a wide range of dramaturges and script consultants across Aotearoa and was subsequently published on The Theatres Times. You can read my article Towards a NZ Dramaturgy here and here. My work on dramaturgy can also be found in the book, Performing Turtle Island: Indigenous Theatre on the World Stage.
I have a passion for developing new New Zealand scripts and have dramaturged over 25 new scripts since coming home in 2014. This includes new scripts for the Playmarket Oryza Foundation, Prayas Theatre, Proudly Asian Theatre, and for Black Creatives Aotearoa, where I directly support the development of Black NZ Plays.