Doctor! Doctor!

I must admit I started off with the wrong idea for the Doctor’s characterisation. I took the character to be a comical ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ who would be naturally awkward around others. But through the rehearsals this came to change. The character was to become more sinister and confident with his elaborate use of language.

Watching the film and continuous reading of the play started to change my mind about my first impressions of the Doctor. He uses aggressive language towards Woyzeck, and even speaks confidently to the Captain. He uses his knowledge to his strength, as no-one else seems to know what he is talking about with regards to the Latin words he uses. Rachel also noticed the more sinister side of the Doctor and so directed me to play him in a creepy and sinister way.

The character was then split into two due to the fact that there were not enough strong women parts in the play. I would be sharing the character with Amie. We looked at how their relationship would be and decided that they could be a husband and wife figure, both correcting and interrupting each other. We felt that this could continue on to Theatre Company where the two Doctor characters could end up having what the cast call a ‘Latin-off’ where each character would attempt to say the most and the longest Latin word.


The dramaturg within our group…

I feel I have learned a lot about dramaturgy and the role of the dramaturg. Which is something I had no idea about at the beginning. In fact, I hadn’t even heard the term. Although know one took of the specific role of the dramaturg, we all contributed to the developing of ideas and the gathering of materials for the play. After discovering that the dramaturg has a huge role within a company/organisation, when applying all of the dramaturgical jobs to our performance, I think it would have been unfair to give one person the role of the dramaturg and that much responsibility. We cast the position of director in our very first session after decided on the groups, we then each took a job/responsibility in order to share the role. With Rachel as director. Kirsty, in charge of props, Sally in charge of lighting, Aaron in charge of sound. These were the main categorised roles. Martyn and Jimmy did a lot of research regarding using the space, concepts of spatiality and the use of promenade. Braden with the main role as Woyzeck did a lot of research around characterisation, as well as the staging and stage combat techniques during the fight scene.

I was responsible for costume, researching around costume ideas, researching what the characters wore in the original productions and in the film. Researching costumes suitable for the period and what can be portrayed through costume, for example, the masks for the circus characters. I made an visit to the costume/props stores in attempt to find the majority of costume that we needed. However the style or sizing was not quite right. The success of my rummaging lead me to find a suitable cap for the sergeant. I think this created a appropriate look for the sergeant, which really suggested his authoritative status that a green army jacket and black trousers couldn’t have created on their own.

Luckily, most costume we needed for the performance didn’t need to be anything outrageous or unique. We mostly needed green/army style jackets, which Rachel had at home. The majority of the cast wore blacks underneath, which again we all had in our own wardrobes. Kirsty and I, took a shop around for Marie and Margaret’s costumes. We wanted something feminine, to emphasise to womanly side to Marie that attracts the drum-major, but nothing too fancy. We still wanted to display the home-house wife look about Marie in order to suggest her middle class status.

Sally managed to find the costume for the showman within her own wardrobe. I had previously posted some pictures that I thought might work. More than anything I wanted the audience to be able to distinguish Sally’s character as the showman, in order to emphasise her as kind of a story teller, or the one the audience should listen to and follow. I felt that if we could create this connection between Sally’s character and the audience they would be more inclined to follow, therefore ensuring the smooth transitions within the promenade. Whether or not a characters costume has the ability to convey this, I do not know!

The doctors scene, required five lab coats. Aaron and Jimmy managed to borrow these. The look of the lab coats combined with the white drapes and brightly lit space created a clinical atmosphere. We wanted Woyzeck to feel under examination as a part of his pea-only diet experiment. The white also made a great contrast to the snap blackouts, especially as it takes a seconds for the eye to adjust to the surrounding light.

Despite having particular responsibilities, the whole group contributed towards the process leading up to the final performance. We all created the role of the dramaturg together. At least this way we can all be identified as dramaturgical contributors and know ones work goes un recognised. If you refer to my text on ‘The role of the dramaturg’ you will understand what I mean. However I’m not sure it really makes sense when applying it to our organisation. But anyway, please feel free to add anything else, perhaps some personal contribution that I may have missed.


Carry On Captain.

So, I’m playing the Captain in the shaving scene, which is a fun scene to play. As our opener for our fifteen minute Dramaturgy assessment, it is therefore important to get the characters right and set the tone for Woyzeck’s world. Victor Price tells us in the appendix to his translation of Woyzeck that in what many regard as the final manuscript:

The order of the scenes is puzzling. Woyzeck shaving the Captain, which many editors place at the beginning, comes fourth (2008, p.134.).

 This makes characterisation choices significantly varied. Depending on what scenes Buchner had placed before this one, you could play the Captain in many ways because the tone and feel of the piece would have been set already. As we have placed this scene first, however, this will be our ‘tone setter’.

It would be easy to over play the subtle humour in this scene and turn the Captain into a Captain Mainwaring (from BBC Comedy Dad’s Army) stereotype. This would not set the right overall tone for the play. Yes, there are funny moments in the play, but I think that the majority of these moments are based on relief theory. Michael Billig tells us in his book Laughter and Ridicule that;

Freud uses his relief theory to explain this type of laughter. If the theory attributes any motive to the adult audience, it is one of empathy (2005, p.170).

To me, the Captain is a man who is prone to distraction and rambling on about whatever seems to be in his head (It is this that put me in mind of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog). He is a man of some social standing; the clues are there in the text. For example, where he and Woyzeck discuss self control amongst the classes of their society. Therefore, I’ve given him an accent which I feel would suit him, and may be quite obvious and stereotypical anyway. Due to the distracted and self important nature of the character, I’ve allowed my delivery of lines to drift off, almost as if he’s going into a daydream, particularly when he talks about girls stockings!


Works cited:

Billig, Michael. (2005) Laughter and Ridicule. Towards a Social Critique of Humour. London: Sage.

Buchner, George (2008). Danton’s Death, Leonce and Lena, and Woyzeck. Translated and introduced by Victor Price. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The role of the dramaturg…

The role of the Dramaturg?

What actually is a Dramaturg? The dramaturg has many different jobs or roles, the role within the company is usually dependant on the nature of the organisation. A production within an organisation involves a network of people working together.

The dramaturg is sometimes used as the productions mediator, otherwise described as the ‘go-between’ or the communicator between the members within the organisation/company. The dramaturgy will often liaise between:

  • The production and the public
  • Artistic director and producer
  • Actor and director

…to unsure the smooth running of the production and to make sure all members of the company are on the same wave-length with regards to the final vision for the production.

“You have to be the integrator and the communicator and you have to mediate between all these parties” (Henrik Adler 2005, p.20 cited in Turner and Behrndt 2008, p.161)

As well as taking on the role as the ‘spokesperson’ of the team, the dramaturg may also have other varying roles with regards to the framing of the production. Their time may be concerned with finding ways of articulating and shaping the decision making within the rehearsal space. This job in particular may sound quite similar to the work of the director, especially when considering the rehearsal process, however when the the role of the dramaturg is viewed as a more a collaborator, the dramaturg and the director work in close collaboration anyway. It is known that occasionally some directors find this daunting and their presence viewed as threatening, but for other directors the dramaturgs input is welcome.

The dramaturg is involved with many others key areas when building a production. They contribute to the understanding of the motives and style or the production, they provide support, feedback and are also sometimes in charge of the research and facilitation of the piece. Some dramaturgs provide a great amount of input into the general decision making, development and architecture of the work. In some cases a strong element of the artistic investment is personal to the dramaturgs work.

A big question that is said to be a bit of a mystery when considering the dramaturgs work…What specifically is personally their own work? When you take the nature of their work and their role into account, in some cases its hard to pin-point exactly which ideas/input does the dramaturg actually claim. Due to this, in some cases the dramaturgs input can almost go unrecognised as it is very difficult to claim ownership upon any single element of the performance as being distinctly their own.

Anne Bogart, director of New York based SITI states

“I think with dramaturgs there is usually this really bizarre question of ownership or something, a director has ownership of staging, a actor has ownership of the acting…well, in the best case, usually in a new play the role of the dramaturg is not to have ownership. But if you look at American Silents, there is a huge amount of ownership and its called ownership of archival materials and of structural ideas. (Coleman and Wolff 1998, p. 27: ctied in Turner and Behrndt 2008, p. 164)

This statement, as one example, suggests that perhaps dramaturgs do get the recognition they deserve, but credited under a different name.


  • Turner, Cathy and Synne K, Behrndt (2008) dramaturgy and performance, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Written by Amie.

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