Field Guide To Circus Dramaturgy - CircusTalk

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Field Guide To Circus Dramaturgy

In late August of 2012, I drove across the border at the Thousand Islands Bridge on Hill Island between Ontario and New York State to start my adventure as a Master’s student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I had completed all of my paperwork, and filled out all of the forms. The last step of the process was simply getting my F-1 student visa, which for Canadians happens at the border. When my name was finally called and I went up to the counter, the agent asked. “What are you taking in school?” “Dramaturgy,” I responded. “What the hell is that?” My face flushed as I waiting for my brain to kick in and provide an answer to what seems like a simple question. “Uh, theatre studies,” I finally spat out. Good enough for him. But not for me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
myself into. Over the  years, I learned a great deal about what dramaturgy is. And yet, a clear definition of what it is remains elusive, almost intangible. Marianne Van Kerkhoven explains that “dramaturgy involves everything, is to be found in everything, and is hard to pin down.”[1] My favourite description of what dramaturgy comes from Dr. David Williams, who says that dramaturgy is “about the rhythmed assemblage of settings, people, texts and things. It is concerned with the composing and orchestration of events for and in particular contexts, tracking the implications of and connective relations between materials, and shaping them to find effective forms.”[2] To me, dramaturgy is about seeing, listening, questioning, and communicating meaning and intention. Our job as dramaturgs changes and adapts to each different production, as each creation process demands something different of us. But what does dramaturgy look  like? Ca...
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Alison Bowie

Alison Bowie is a PhD in Humanities student at Concordia University focusing on the intersections between Québec theatre history, translation, dramaturgy, and memory studies. Her research, under the supervision of Dr. Louis Patrick Leroux, investigates the ways in which memory can be used as a strategy to combat forgetting in the creation and understanding of national and cultural narratives. Alison’s research is being funded by the Fonds de recherches du Québec - Société et culture and by the Faculty of Arts & Science at Concordia University. She achieved her Masters of Fine Arts degree in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Queen’s University. Alison has worked in the theatre industry for over ten years as an administrator and artist. She is currently an active theatre translator and dramaturg, and works as CFO and web designer for Techne Creations Ltd. She is also currently the project manager for Professor Leroux's Circus Dramaturgy research-creation project at Concordia University.