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  • Sam Baldwin

The Workshop is Nigh! A New Draft is Upon Us!


We're fast approaching 2019, and are just two weeks from beginning rehearsals for the workshop. But more immediately, we've recently seen a new draft from Anya, and we've had the chance to convene and address the ever multiplying questions that are emerging for all of us.

I think what's truly great about dramaturgy is that as we grasp for understanding and try to find solutions, it leads us to new lines of inquiry. Looking into the spirituality of the African-American community in 1980's Oakland has led us to questions about the religion of the Greeks, and we came across theories that they experienced "divinity" while under the influence of opiates. Here, Jenna and Emily's research overlapped, and we found ourselves immersed in what "faith" means, and how it is different from "fate." And then we looked at each individual character, and got into their personal beliefs. That's just one rabbit hole that we've gone down.

There is such depth to this story. This was true when Aeschylus dramatized it two millennia ago, and it is true now. And as old as it is, there are questions it asks that we will never answer. To try, though, and to prompt audiences to try...that's our mission!

Perhaps it is because of our desire to know, to see the truth, that we are so drawn to Cassandra. She is a sort of dramaturg herself, isn't she? She knows how the story ends before it begins, and she tries to communicate that to those that bear witness to it. Is that not the role of the dramaturg? In our recent meeting, somebody identified her as "an outsider that is also on the inside." Is that not an apt descriptor for the dramaturg?

But then again, a dramaturg is able to make things clearer, and provide concrete insight into the story. Cassandra is something beyond that. She is ethereal. Anya says that she "is the city," and that she "is a wave moving in and out of sight." Kyle is haunted by her, and has been since May, when he began investigating her. Unlike the dramaturg, and unlike the playwright, she does not place her narrative in a knowable time and place. She exists outside it.

In being so elusive, she reminds me of what Greek tragedy is to us. We have been told these stories many times, and we know that they are important. We know that they make up the very fabric of contemporary culture. But they are nevertheless an unfathomable mystery. To try to take them in, as the Chorus tries to make sense of what Cassandra sings and shrieks about, we recognize that we are being presented with the truth, but we are also befuddled by it. We want to know more, and so we try to know more.

I think that's a worthy pursuit. Onward!


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