Graphic by Raquel Villalobos
By Rachel Perzynski, Associate Editor
In order to learn more about the ways in which dramaturgy and playwriting intersect, I reached out to D Matthew Beyer. Beyer is one of the playwrights involved with the Wrights of Spring festival, an annual two-week celebration of new plays by Theatre School playwrights. His current Wrights of Spring project is titled Down the Rocky Road and All the Way to Bedlam.
Rachel Perzynski: During this process, what kind of feedback did you ask for?
D Matthew Beyer: When receiving feedback, I typically ask for the visceral, general response before moving on to specific questions. These questions ran the gamut from very concrete and specific (“Could you tell that Zelazny was lying about where the necklace came from”?) to vague and abstract (“How does the Ship of Theseus relate to the action of the play”?).
RP: Who do you receive your feedback from?
DMB: Aside from my playwriting class and Carlos, which are my primary sources of feedback, I have an eclectic group of beta readers that I send the script to. It’s mostly current school students and theatre school alumni from various disciplines including directors, a couple of playwrights, and BFA & MFA actors.
RP: What kind of feedback would you ask for in the future?
DMB: Moving forward, I think my feedback style works well but I’m going to have to modify my lines of questioning to accommodate audience experience as well. Right now, my play is being read mostly in a vacuum — it’s being read and examined as a piece of writing rather than as a live performance.
RP: What kind of dramaturgical work have you done throughout this process? How did it help shape your play?
DMB: I’ve done a bunch of bizarre dramaturgical work for this show. I started out by doing a ton of research into theories of artificial intelligence, cyberpunk as a literary movement, and romanticism. Most of the research went into fleshing out the world and language of the play since the characters were already doing their own things. Now that I’ve moved into rewriting and editing I’m doing less research and more following the internal logic (and sometimes lack thereof) of the play. Carlos taught us an interesting trick called mapping, which has proved invaluable for unifying the events of my play into a through-line of action.
RP: How do you think doing your own dramaturgy differs from having a dramaturg to help you in the development of your play?
DMB: Mostly I think it’s a matter of perspective. Every set of eyes opens new doors for the play, as people interpret symbols and action differently. Plus dramaturgs have a different set of tools than a playwright. When I look at a play, any play- not just my own- I always look through the lens of a writer.
Come see a reading of Down the Rocky Road and All the Way to Bedlam!
Where: Healy Theatre, The Theatre School
When: Friday, May 20 at 7:15 pm
Thursday, May 26 at 8:45 pm