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Insights from Dramaturg Jessica Ordon

January 31, 2014
Playwright Siobhan Snider and Dramaturg Jessica Ordon

Playwright Siobhan Snider and Dramaturg Jessica Ordon discuss the play Opposite Togetherness

Jessica Ordon worked with us as a dramaturg last year and returns to work with young playwrights again this year in our 29th season of Plays by Young Writers, which premieres winning scripts from the California Young Playwrights Contest. Jessica is working with the five winning playwrights who are under the age of 15 and who will receive staged readings of their plays. Scripts by writers age 15-18 receive full productions of their scripts.

Jessica has a Masters degree in Theatre from SDSU and a B.A. from Florida State University.  She has worked with Native Voices at the Autry and La Jolla Playhouse.  

Here’s a glimpse into her ideas on dramaturgy and this year’s plays.

 

How do you define dramaturgy? How does it differ when you are working with young writers?

Dramaturgy is the process of helping everyone involved with a production understand the play better– that includes the director, actors, and writer. The dramaturg is there to step back and view the play as a whole, and then tell the rest of the team what she sees. She’s also there to pose questions about the play. What drives this particular character? What changes from beginning to end in this scene? What is the message the audience is going to walk away with?

It’s not necessarily different when working with young writers, but I do feel like I ask young playwrights more questions. This is possibly because they always seem to have more in their heads than what you see on the page! Then my goal becomes getting the writers to include all of that fantastic stuff in the script.

What inspired you to pursue dramaturgical work?

I love plays! And I love digging– really getting into the world of a play and figuring out what makes it tick, and how we could make it tick better, louder, faster! Also, I love looking at theatre as a big, broad, messy entirety. There is great specificity of focus in acting, directing, or technical work. But being a dramaturg means I get a bird’s eye view of the whole thing, from writer’s pen to audience’s reaction. That’s pretty inspiring.

What intrigues you about the plays you’re currently working on?

Some of the staged reading plays this year involve non-human characters, which is always fun. The settings of these plays are also really vibrant– we have a utopia, a deserted island, New York City, the dog pound, and the wilderness… all rich with dramatic possibilities.

What do you hope the young playwrights will learn from this experience?

Seeing their plays produced should give these writers a huge sense of accomplishment. They should be proud! But also, I hope they pick up some useful tools and new ideas for ways to keep writing. Writing your first play is a great achievement, but writing the second (or third, or fourth) play is really where it’s at.

Plays by Young Writers
The Sheryl and Harvey White Stage
in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe
March 6-16, 2014

For more information and tickets:
www.playwrightsproject.org/PBYW
(858) 384-2970

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