Otis Donovan Herring and Sandra Zvenyika
Credit: Diana Simumpande
Dione Joseph began her exploration into dramaturgy knowing that while the word itself was centered in Euro-centric traditons, the act of dramaturgy itself was not necessarily exclusive to the practice of ‘Western theatre’. Having completed her honours thesis on the Sacred and Sublime – an exploration of Indigenous aesthetics, her research involved embracing deep listening practices as she 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 Dione’s mentor since 2014 and continues to play a pivotal role in supporting her. Since returning to Aotearoa, NZ after five years in Australia and two years traveling including spending time with Mojica in London and Toronto, Dione then began a deep and lengthy exploration of dramaturgy in Aotearoa. This resulted in two part series that drew upon Dione’s conversation with a wide range of dramturges and script consultants across Aotearoa and which then was subsequently published on The Theatres Times. You can read Dione’s article Towards a NZ Dramaturgy here and here. Her work on dramaturgy can also be found in the book, Performing Turtle Island: Indigenous Theatre on the World Stage.
Dione has a passion for developing new New Zealand scripts and has 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 she directly supports the development of Black NZ Plays.