Project M45*: a practise-based exploration and documentation of my dramaturgical work with 7 interdisciplinary artists and their 6 works in progress.
We had the first meeting of the Interdisciplinary Writers' Unit at Playwrights' Workshop Montreal (PWM) in April 2014 . They were gathered together from the theatre community and beyond to begin a cross-pollination of practise and experience that continues to grow. It became clear quickly that this unit would require, and was an opportunity for, a different sort of investment than the general approach to leading a text-based playwriting unit. I applied for and received a professional development grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which enabled me to invest time in each of these artists and projects on a one-on-one basis, supported by PWM, and in addition to our group meetings. I named this expanded exploration of interdisciplinary dramaturgy, Project M45, it's an investigation that has diversified my practise in a short, intense period and in a deeply creative and rewarding way.
Theatre is the root of my work but I believe dramaturgy can be responsive to and collaborative with any form of live storytelling that is in communication with an audience. My process with these artists has been unique to each project in ways I did not predict. Often, in interdisciplinary work, text is created simultaneously with the other elements that form the narrative. In most of these projects the story is developed in the room and not on the page and therefore requires dramaturgical presence be in that room to experience anything in 'draft' form. I have found that to respond to the text elements alone is insufficient to understand the development of the work. The process of assembling, performing, dismantling and running video, audio, projection, circus, or movement elements for example might be necessary to experience an entire working draft. In many ways it sits at the intersection of play development and production dramaturgy in that the boundaries between creation are rehearsal are blurred. This website was created to share and update details about each artist and project as they continue to develop and move towards production/presentation/performance. In addition, I will be sharing some of my process of figuring out my approach to these non-text based works in a blog on this website.
We, in the Unit and at PWM, are in the process of producing a presentation of excerpts of each of these new works in-progress at the Bain Mathieu in Montreal on May 11th, 2016 as a culmination of our time as a group. Please join us! Since the unit was created we have been sought out by artists who wish to develop their work for performance but who do not necessarily categorize themselves as playwrights. We look forward to the next incarnation of this unit as we continue to figure out how to best support the work of interdisciplinary storytellers at Playwrights' Workshop Montreal.
*The Pleiades star cluster – also known as the Seven Sisters or M45.
Fatma Sarah Elkashef
Sarah Elkashef is a theatre artist, primarily a dramaturg, working in new play development and interdisciplinary creation. She currently works as a dramaturg at Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal where she leads a writer’s unit for interdisciplinary artists. At the National Theatre School of Canada she works as a dramturg and teacher in the playwriting, directing and acting programs and received the 2016 Bernard Amyot Award for Teaching. Prior to arriving in Canada five years ago she was the Senior Reader at Soho Theatre in London, U.K. Sarah has also been an associate producer, company manager, literary associate and more in New York City including at Ensemble Studio Theatre and its Lexington Center for the Arts and at TFANA. Sarah has a B.A. in English Literature and Theatre from Warwick University (U.K.), an M.A. in Theatre from Hunter College (the City University of New York), and a Graduate Diploma in Communications from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada).