Dramaturgy Performances and Promenade Theatre

In a recent rehearsal for Woyzeck our group decided on the scenes we would show for our dramaturgy performance. Whilst the selection of the scenes themselves was not set in stone we spent time discussing how we could present them to the audience. We wanted to try and perform our scenes as promenade theatre; this was inspired by a recent study of spatiality in millennial dramaturgies.
Woyzeck is a play that is open to dramaturgical study. Having being uncompleted by the author, Georg Buchner, before he died the play has no set scene order other than what previous writers have put together in an attempt to finish the play. Our group, wanted to make a more contemporary performance and so applied millennial dramaturgical theories to the play regarding spatiality, “we see a number of works in which spatial, rather than chronological principals are fundamental to the dramaturgy” (Behrndt & Turner, 2008, pp.195). With this in mind we could move away from just relying on chronological aspects but more on the spatial, allowing us to perform our chosen scenes as promenade theatre.
The group then selected the scenes that we were going to perform. We needed to make sure that each performing member of the group had a respectable amount of input to ensure their practical participation was noticed. With this in mind we set about choosing the right scenes to perform. We put a selection of four scenes together; making sure each performer had a decent amount to perform. However, Martyn did not have a character to perform on the few scenes we chose, so we decided that his character could lead the audience where we wanted them to go, thus making sure that we keep tight hold over what the audience see, rather than allowing them to wonder through each scene freely; this also allowed us to remain the dramaturges of the piece. “It is possible to follow the story of the performances, by following an actor through the various scenes.” (Behrndt & Turner, 2008, pp. 195). The scenes may not be able to tell the audience completely about the play it will give them some idea into how the character of Woyzeck is feeling, allowing them to draw their own conclusion about why we chose the scenes we performed, and why we chose to perform them the way we did.

Works Cited.
Behrndt, Synne K. & Cathy Turner (2008) Dramaturgy and Performance, Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire

7 thoughts on “Dramaturgy Performances and Promenade Theatre

  1. In the past week our group has decided on the scenes that we are to perform for the dramaturgy module performance. This included a new scene that would slot onto the end to create a sense of finality when the performance draws to a close. This scene would grant the two actors in it more stage time to ensure a decent mark but would also give the audience more of an insight to what the story is about and where it could go. So with that in mind it would lead on well to the next module, Theatre Company, where we will perform the entire play.
    The group have also changed the fact that Martyn would lead the audience round the performance space. Instead we changed the first scene to accommodate him more as a performer. Instead, the audience will be guided primarily by Sally’s character of the Showman; although each member of the group who are not acting in a scene will be amongst the audience guiding them to where they need to go.
    In a previous comment Martyn was addressing the idea of the chaos theory and how we could have incorporated the idea into spatiality within our performance; however we did consider how we could use the same theory in the chronology of our performance. By having to choose the scenes we perform for dramaturgy we could only give the audience a small section of the story. We decided that we would choose significant points of the play and perform them in an order not necessarily true to what would be considered chronologically best for the overall story. This would make the audience not only pay attention but also think why theses specific scenes were chosen and why they were performed in that way.
    Our main focus as a group was to try and make the audience sympathise to the character of Woyzeck. To do this we tried many different things. Originally we wanted to bring the play into a contemporary era, relating Woyzeck’s position as a soldier to the soldiers in Afghanistan. However the group moved away from that idea; we wanted to make the piece timeless, connecting it to any similar events of recent times. We also tried to incorporate the idea into the physicality of the piece and the way the audience were treated; we wanted them to be put into Woyzeck’s shoes. We decided that Although Martyn wouldn’t personally direct the audience round the performance space, the actors who would shepherd them would be like army officials, forcefully moving them where we want them to be. We also place the character of Woyzeck right in amongst the audience so when the Drum Major picks a fight with him it will feel like one of their own is suffering. This can also be the case with the penultimate scene where Woyzeck will be surrounded by the audience as he becomes subject to the Doctors’ experiments.
    Even thought the piece is not going to be given a set time period, we want to make sure the audience can take something away from what they see. “Decisions concerning how the play (or idea) is to be realised are often connected with the reasons why it is chosen in the first place.” (Behrndt & Turner, 2008, pp. 150). We can see in many events around the world today that people are being pushed down and trodden on, such as the character Woyzeck, events such as what has happened in Egypt, where the people are rising up against the government. This will allow the audience to know and empathise with how so many people could have felt when their paths are being decided for them, and what they see and hear has been filtered down by another force to suit what they believe is best.

    Works Cited.
    Behrndt, Synne K. & Cathy Turner (2008) Dramaturgy and Performance, Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire

  2. Howdy Bloggers!

    Firstly – Loving your work guys! I am very impressed with the level of research you have clearly done, it is all very easy to read and I have enjoyed looking through the posts on your blog!

    You answered Mark’s questions extremely well!
    So Well Done for that!!

    Keep up the good work guys! Very much looking forward to continuing to read your blog! – Keep those updates coming!!

    Good luck & well done,

    Ashton, x

    1. Why thank you very much! We do try. Similarly we are really looking forward to seeing what you guys are going to do, we got a great taster earlier and I’m sure the rest is just as good, if not more entertaining!
      All the best!

  3. Mark does know how to pose a question!
    There was a discussion within our group about pathways. There are ways we could have used game/chaos theory and they could have worked well. For example, we could have had our audience issued with a single dice and a map of numbered rooms where performances of individual scenes were to take place. Our audients could have shaken the dice and rolled, for example, a four. The object then would have been to find room number four on the map and go there to see the scene in that space. After seeing this scene, they would then roll another number and continue in this way until they had seen all of the scenes we were to perform.
    The advantage of this approach is that each member of the audience sees the same play but, due to the differing order in which they see the scenes, each has an individual experience of the play and draws their own ideas and conclusions about it. To me, this is a wonderful concept.
    However, a disadvantage would be that the actors for each scene would repeatedly perform the same scene, who knows how many times, before they got any respite. Each time they performed it would undoubtedly be different (that’s chaos theory for you, I guess!). But would that be an advantage or disadvantage?
    As it is, we decided to make our performance a little more structured. The nature of the LPAC building’s architecture is great and offers many little nooks and crannies in which to perform. However, our cast really isn’t big enough to apply the random approach discussed above, at least, not with any credibility. Our performance would have been a series of scenes which were only a minute long, due to the nature of the text and the number of actors in our scene. By the time our audience have made their way through all the scenes, our 10-15 minute assessment slot (for our Dramaturgy module) would have been well exceeded.
    We feel that if we give the audience a structured path by leading them ourselves (in character), then our piece would flow with better continuity and our time limit for this assessment wouldn’t be too badly affected. The only disadvantage, for me, is that the audience don’t get that individual experience, but this is perhaps something we can look into for our full length production in May.

    1. I think you would find the work of SHUNT interesting to reflect on in relation to the Woyzeck project. Here’s a link to their showreel:

  4. To what extent, do you think, the navigation of the journey through the theatrical space will affect the audience’s (differing) perception of the work? Will you lay out a set topological pathway? Or pathways? How might such an approach work with theories such as game theory and chaos theory?

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