Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Smash: A New Member on the Creative Team for Bombshell

I feel obligated to defend dramaturgs a bit. See, I did my Master's in Theatre with the intent of becoming a professional dramaturg, a job I held for a short while when I lived in Pennsylvania. So, I have some insider knowledge on this one. "Script doctor" is not the most well-crafted description of what a dramaturg does, but neither is "assistant director," which many try to call the position. The role of a dramaturg varies from play to play, theater to theater. They help with new works as well as classical pieces. They contextualize the world of the play for both the actors and the audience, help plan seasons, edit and adapt plays, create lobby displays, and evaluate new works, among other things. So, yes, a dramaturg may make a lot of notes to help get a play off the ground, but there's an old saying - "the playwright is always right." We want to make sure that the original intent remains, and what Peter is doing to Julia and Tom might not be that. Another thought - Law and Order: Criminal Intent did an episode where a dramaturg was a guilty party. In that episode, the character was "the director's assistant," as he helped the director apply her vision to the entire production. He might have been the bad guy there, but let's hope that Smash doesn't sour everyone to the idea behind incorporating dramaturgs into the creative process!

Smash "Dramaturg" (S02E03): First, the good news: Bombshell is back in rehearsal! But, Eileen wants to bring a dramaturg to the team, despite objections from Tom and Julia. [who seem largely ignorant of them, calling them parasites who take credit when they don't create original work. this is a field day for me... dramaturgs receive a line in the playbill... you can't point to anything in a play and call it theirs... not like costumers, set designers, actors, etc.] Still, they agree to meet with Peter, who quickly impresses them into believing that not all shows using dramaturgs are "troubled." However, he soon calls the show a biopic without character development, and says that the script wasn't "alive." Julia feels ambushed, especially after learning Peter saw the show four times in Boston and pitched Eileen about what he could do for the musical. Julia confronts Peter and he says that the show didn't have heat and was too centered around Marilyn in the household. Julia responds by writing a new scene (with JFK), which was good, but according to the dramaturg, "wasn't right."
Will Hart/NBC
Unsure of Bombshell's future, Derek, Karen, and Ivy are off seeking side work. After a killer audition, Ivy lands the role of Cecile in a revival of Liaisons. Derek tries to get Veronica to get her a position with The Wiz, but she winds up deciding to leave that musical to take a chance on her own one-night show. Karen convinces Derek to meet with Jimmy and Kyle about their musical, so they scramble around trying to write the story that ties together their songs. For Jimmy, this means going to his former residence and getting beat up in order to retrieve a notebook. [was that an ex-boyfriend or a former dealer? I'm not sure.] Derek lets rehearsals run late enough that they miss their initial meeting with the guys, but he and Karen later show up to hear the plan for Hit List, a contemporary musical. [I think the "character who has nothing but music" plot is terribly overdone. I was also impressed that Derek decided to pursue the guys, even after some issues with Jimmy.]
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