Asking questions

by Jennifer Bobiwash

I have many started drafts and a variety of folders organized with research of links on sites I need to visit, but it wasn’t until I started working on someone else’s project that it started making sense to me.

My title is Cultural Dramaturg.  What does that even mean?  During the Pandemic, I took the opportunity to increase my education. In my further attempts to understand how to write a play, I participated in a dramaturgy class.  A month of examining how a play comes together and questions to ask understand a play.  Homework and discussions. 

Not knowing where to begin, I started looking at examples I had received from other dramaturgs on other projects. I looked to these packets of what information was included and how it related to the play. Hmm. I still had too much information. 


Since I was also supposed to be sharing cultural information, that made it easier. In Act 1 of the play, which at this point was 124 pages, culture was only ⅓ of it. I looked to the location of where the people came from to ground the main character and to understand the bits of language that was being included.   I searched through tribal histories to see what part of the nation she came from.  I narrowed down the language to where she was born since there were no records of her. Next up, structure of the story being told. Who was telling the story and why?  The best question that the director asked to help cut pages was: Whose story was this? it’s all fine and good to want to include all the brilliant information, but if it wasn’t about our protagonist, it had to go. 

I am still looking for my method to creating a play. These simple questions were also helping me sort through the mounds of research I continued to find.  I’m also figuring out how much information is too much and when do you stop. 

The playwright in this instance had found an abbreviated story and was using that as an outline, but after talking about the play and explaining their thought processes, more options kept popping up. 

I’m not sure what this all means. We finished a week of reading and listening and answering to questions about the play. We have a debrief to go through, and I’m thinking about my next steps.  But me, I’m still researching.

Keep asking questions!

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