Dramaturging the Phoenix

Dramaturging the Phoenix 2.0
A Renewed Challenge for LMDA Members

Call: To amplify the collection of essays inaugurated at the beginning of the pandemic, LMDA seeks further dramaturgical responses – videos, creative works, and social media threads, other essays, among other formats – that boldly inspire, provoke, and explore theatre’s potential to transform through global crisis.

Eligibility: Current LMDA members (to renew or join, click here)

Deadline: September 1, 2021

Prompt: One year after COVID-19 rapidly shuttered venues of all sizes, theatre and the millions of people who create and experience it in North America and many other parts of the world continue to be on hiatus in order to save lives, but the return is beginning to feel… soon(ish)? LMDA now invites its members to look back on their experiences of challenge and transformation in the past twelve months and to continue to imagine ways in which our art form will emerge from this crisis, changed for the better.

As we enter the second year of life with COVID and look to recovery and reopening, what will theatre look like this time? How can we center equity and be more inclusive? When we resume and reconnect, how might we do so more profoundly? What big ideas will transform theatre and its institutions for the next era? Which assumptions and habits will we be free to leave behind? 

For DRAMATURGING THE PHOENIX 2.0, let’s continue to imagine the “radical dramaturgy” that will lead theatre and performance into the next year, decade, and century. How do we build the foundations to heal from this year and move our communities, nations, and the globe forward? How do theatre artists lead as essential workers? How can dramaturgical actions and practices seeded in imagination shape the theatrical phoenix that will rise?

Target: LMDA wants to put its members’ incomparable brains and innovative impulses to work for the benefit of our community and the many others we touch, to showcase dramaturgy’s vital capacity to contextualize and articulate the possibilities of where we go from here and what it might mean. Our goal is to get every member of LMDA to contribute a response, whether individually or in collaboration (cuz that’s what we do best!).

Email: Save your essay as Name.Title.pdf and email to phoenix@lmda.org

Engage the present. 
Shape the future. 

Don't hesitate to reach out if we can support you in any way!

Best wishes,
Anne, Finn, Heather, Jess, Ken, Liana, Linda, Lynde, Martha, and Russ

In April 2020, LMDA asked its members to contribute short essays to boldly inspire, provoke, and explore theatre’s potential to transform through global crisis. The Dramaturging the Phoenix challenge challenged writers to imagine the “radical dramaturgy” that will lead theatre and performance into the next year, decade, and century. What ideal theatre-making will heal the communities, nations, and the globe during the long recovery ahead? How can dramaturgical imagination and practices shape the theatrical phoenix that will rise?

The first round of responses – over 50 of them – were overwhelming. They are musings, manifestos, meditations, poems, song lyrics, calls to action, lesson plans for teaching dramaturgy during COVID-19, program notes without a show, recipes for the future, and eulogies for the dead.

They are views on dramaturgy from the floor, from a window, from a forest, from a narrow sidewalk and more. Views on classical literature and past plagues. Views from an audience on an unexpected closing night – and new views of what an audience means now. Views on silence and the meaningfulness of rest, and reminders that we need time and space to fuel the Imagination. Views on commercial and regional theatres – as well as what community theatre should mean.

What's in common is that dramaturgs don't want the same working conditions in theatre that we had before. There's a heartfelt, passionate desire for systemic change, and these essays imagned so many possibilities of what theatre could be and should be when we're allowed to gather again. What we received captures a moment in time and presents the voices of dramaturgs in process. 

We invite all LMDA members to read the collected essays here. (For access, make sure you're logged in and your membership is current.) Dramaturging the Phoenix will remain open for contributions through September 1, 2021. Our unique experiences and visions, expressed in diverse essays, constitute an invaluable archive of dramaturgical thought and feeling in this paradigm-busting era. Please make your mark, and send your essay to phoenix@lmda.org today!

The essays are merely the springboard for Dramaturging the Phoenix. The roundtable discussion of essay authors that kicked off LMDA's first virtual conference on June 19, 2020 was accessed by over 2000 people in 42 countries via HowlRound. Offers to publish essays have rolled in from Howlround, Page-By-Page, and The Flashpaper. As we pursue more opportunities for the work, we encourage authors to share their essays where they see fit.

Our Dramaturging the Phoenix Forum (Tuesdays at noon ET on Zoom) has been extended through 2021 as an essential community check-in as we face the challenges of past, present, and future together. The extension will allow us to feature a diverse rotation of essays and related projects for deeper discussion. Those unable to attend the Forums will be able to access a video archive of the Zoom sessions on the website. Upcoming speakers will be announced on the listserv and social media as they are confirmed.

Check out this week's featured essays:

Bringing the Lost to Light
by Mark Bly

Post-COVID Theatre as Imagined by an Emerging North American Dramaturg in April 2020
by Aisling Murphy

To read the entire collection, join LMDA (or log in if you're already a member).

Read the Essays Watch the Forum

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