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144 8 The Company A dramaturg is a man of letters who rashly interferes in the business of theatre. —Edwin Zeydel Edwin Zeydel’s quotation is tongue-in-cheek, but it is a reminder that there is sometimes a gulf between a theatrical event that is artistically or socially relevant , on the one hand, and what makes money for a theater on the other. But a good dramaturg’s “rash interference” can actually bridge this gap by providing a critical (but supportive) eye within the production process. The best troupes use dramaturgs the same way that a ship uses a navigator, as a resident expert in plotting a course from A to B, avoiding hazards known and unknown, and for finding the way again after getting lost. When working with the administration , cast, and crew of a production, here are some ways that dramaturgs are practically employed keeping their theatrical ships on course. Working with the Artistic Director Theaters in America employ many models of organizational hierarchies that provide chains-of-command for various types of decision making. Some Broadway houses and other commercial entities have different management structures than the approximately seventy-five theaters that are members of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT, the administrative organization to which most non-Broadway or “regional” American theaters belong). But generally speaking , LORT theaters follow a model that divides the company’s responsibilities into departments, as shown in figure 2. An artistic director (AD) is an individual typically hired by the theater’s board of directors who is responsible for the artistic vision of a theater. The AD usually works hand-in-hand with a managing director who is responsible for Chemers Ch8.indd 144 2/9/10 7:45:38 AM THE COMPANY 145 the day-to-day business and audience relations. With the managing director, the AD plans the season, hires many of the artists, supervises the press materials , and supervises artistic decisions made by others. The artistic director is distinct from the director of an individual production, who is responsible for the artistic execution of a single production within a season. The director is the primary artistic voice of an individual production but is usually hired by (and reports to) the artistic director. In this model, dramaturgs are placed in the literary department, which reports to the artistic director. Most other departments are accountable, more or less, to both the artistic director and the managing director. Some dramaturgs remain in residence year-round at a particular theater company, working not only in rehearsal but also closely with the artistic director . In the United States, the director of the literary department is often called literary manager, and this position involves the selection of scripts and a season, the cultivation of authors and audiences and education and outreach (although some theaters have a separate education department with its own director), and support of individual productions. The specific responsibilities made by a dramaturg in such a position depend on the nature of the company itself. The in-house dramaturg has to ask not just “Why this play now?” but “Why this play now here?” Different theaters have different identities and different contexts, and the dramaturg must take these issues into account. Usually, the in-house Board of trustees Artistic director Managing director Marketing department Publicity Promotion Business office Accounting Payroll Box office Operations Development department Fundraising Cultivation of donors Financial planning Literary department Dramaturgy New plays Literary manager Education department Educational outreach Casting department Production department Costumes Scenic Paint Props Lighting Sound Fig. 2. Theater organization chart Chemers Ch8.indd 145 2/9/10 7:45:38 AM PRACTICE 146 dramaturg or the literary manager reports directly to the artistic director as well. In concrete terms, the responsibilities of a literary manager or resident dramaturg require detailed knowledge of the general provenance of the theater’s income (in terms of both patrons and audience) and the theater’s mission. Mission Statements A mission statement is a prerequisite for the legal creation of any not-for-profit organization. The board of trustees is mainly responsible for keeping the organization financially afloat and following this mission. In this way, the board represents the interests of the community that funds the theater with its taxes, and the board hires the artistic director, the managing director, and other senior staff specifically to realize the mission. Even if the artistic product of a theater is very good, if the theater does not maintain its mission, it...


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