Dramaturgical Research



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I conducted dramaturgical research for the plays Julius Caesar and As You Like It for the Houston Shakespeare Festival this summer. Dramaturgical research is the multi-faceted study of a given play in order to enrich the process of producing the play (rehearsals) as well as the audience’s experience with the play once it is performed. This can include research on the author, source materials for the play, historical background, production history, and more based on the needs of the director. A dramaturg also remains present and attentive at every rehearsal and aids the team by responding appropriately and generously to actor performances. By providing the director and actors with targeted, detailed information on the world of the play, their artistic choices can find grounding in careful study rather than trusting pure intuition or making a choice on a whim. I began by discussing pertinent research areas with the director and dramaturgy team. Research areas I tackled included the historical, literary, and Biblical backgrounds of the Forest of Arden, the history of wrestling as a popular entertainment in Europe, the connection between Orlando and Herculean mythology, and practices regarding murder during the Roman Empire. To complete my process, I consulted various editions of the text to compile a glossary; read books and scholarly articles pertaining to the areas of research; synthesized research into concise essays; compiled all materials into rehearsal packet; and finally presented the materials to the cast.