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Everyone Out of the Mainstream

July 5, 2011

I don’t usually watch television.  As a dramaturg, unless a project specifically calls for some pop culture research, I find myself mostly with my nose in a book.  But a few weeks ago I got a phone call from a close friend of mine (I will call him JM); it went something like this:

Me: Hello?

JM: OMG! There is a dramaturg on Law and Order: CI.

Me: I’m sure there are many dramaturgs that work on that show.

JM: NO! Like, actually ON the show. As a character in the story!

Me: Wow! Reallly?

JM: Yea! I thought you were the only one.  I guess you guys have really hit the mainstream.

Of course, I found and watched it online as soon as I got home.  The specific episode that my friend was referring to is titled Icarus and features a stunning Cynthia Nixon as she parodies the Taymor / Spiderman debacles in a new and amusingly familiar way.  But the best parts for me were, of course, were the reactions to the Dramaturg at hand (who is continually mislabeled the Director’s Assistant).  To be honest, I thought that the social medias would be all a twitter about this.  But sadly I saw only a select few of tweets and next to no response from the theatre communities at large.  Perhaps it is because **SPOILER ALERT** the Dramaturg turns out to be the killer and therefore, the “bad guy.”  I am truly conflicted on this issue.  On the one hand, I am excited that the word (and the profession of) Dramaturgy is being introduced on the small screen and on such a popular show.  However, he turns out to be the bad guy.  So… I ask you, how is a Dramaturg to feel?  How would you feel if one of the first introductions to the mainstream media of your profession was a negative one?  Is bad publicity better than no publicity?  For those who have seen the show, how did you feel about that character in terms of their role in the story? For those of you who have not seen it, I’d like to share with you my favorite part.  The following is the first scene of the episode where the Dramaturg is introduced.  Just the look on Vincent D’onofrio’s face reminds me of the endless looks of confusion I get as I try to introduce my profession to the less-than-mainstream audiences I encounter on a daily basis. The fun starts about 40 seconds into the clip.  Enjoy!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. The Reflective Artist permalink
    July 5, 2011 9:05 am

    I think in this case, no publicity is bad publicity. You guys have been struggling so hard to get put on the map for a while, at least this will get you some name recognition for the fact that you exist. And once they find out you’re a dramaturg, if there is any residual “feelings” from the show on their part, at least they will know not to f*** with you.

  2. July 5, 2011 10:15 am

    I agree. I think it’s better to get the word “dramaturg” out there, even if in a slightly negative context, rather than not at all. I totally understand what you mean about negative representations of your craft in the media, though. If you think about it, there aren’t many positive portrayals of actors, either — we’re either pathetic, starving, lazy waiters, or snotty, out-of-touch, sunglass-wearing billionaires.

    Love Vincent’s face when he says he’s a dramaturg, too. Priceless. And yeah, don’t f*** with dramaturgs 🙂

  3. July 12, 2011 2:29 pm

    I LOVE this video. It’s perfect. And yes, I agree that at least the word got out there! Personally, I’ve been really lucky over the years to work with some great dramaturgs, but projects should use them much more frequently…

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