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Contemporary Dramaturgy in the United States: an Evening with LMDA

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May 5, 2011
May 5, 2011
Segal Theater

lmda_logoAs play development processes change, collaborations increasingly cross disciplines, and positions within theatre structures shift, the role of the dramaturg is taking new shapes and forms within contemporary theatre. Join members and friends of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas including Morgan Jenness (Creative Consultant, Abrams Artists Agency), Anne Davison (freelance dramaturg), Amy Jensen (freelance dramaturg), Gideon Lester (Columbia University), Nina Mankin (freelance dramaturg), and Katherine Profeta (Queens College CUNY) as they discuss their work, the field today and how to be relevant in a world of shrinking resources.

Morgan Jenness with Taylor Mac Photo Courtesy of M. Jenness

Morgan Jenness with Taylor Mac
Photo Courtesy of M. Jenness

Morgan Jenness spent over a decade at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, with both Joseph Papp and George C. Wolfe, in various capacities ranging from literary manager to Director of Play Development to Associate Producer. She was also Associate Artistic Director at the New York Theater Workshop, and an Associate Director at the Los Angeles Theater Center in charge of new projects. She has worked as a dramaturg, workshop director, and/or artistic consultant at theaters and new play programs across the country, including the Young Playwrights Festival, the Mark Taper Forum, The Playwrights Center/Playlabs, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Double Image/New York Stage and Film, CSC, Victory Gardens, Hartford Stage, and Center Stage. She has participated as a visiting artist and adjunct in playwriting programs at the University of Iowa, Brown University, Breadloaf, Columbia and NYU and is currently on the adjunct faculty at Fordham University. She has served on peer panels for various funding institutions, including NYSCA and the NEA, with whom she served as a site evaluator for almost a decade. In 1998 Ms. Jenness joined Helen Merrill Ltd., an agency representing writers, directors, composers and designers, as Creative Director. She now holds a position in the Literary Department at Abrams Artists Agency. In 2003, Ms. Jenness was presented with an Obie Award Special Citation for Longtime Support of Playwrights. She is also a proud member of the ensemble Universes.

Anne Davison is a freelance dramaturg who also works extensively in film and television casting. She is an artistic associate of the Obie Award-winning theater company Les Freres Corbusier and has dramaturged several of their productions, most recently Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by director Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman (Public Theater and Broadway). Additional recent dramaturgy includes Mo(or)town/Redux (choreographed by Doug Elkins) and Fräulein Maria (conceived and choreographed by Doug Elkins, directed by Barbara Karger and Michael Preston). Upcoming projects include new works by Jane Comfort and Company and David Parker/The Bang Group. Casting associate credits include the upcoming HBO film Game ChangeWall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the HBO series “Bored to Death” (Season 2) and four seasons of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”. She has an MFA in Dramaturgy & Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama.


Amy Jensen Photo Courtesy of Artist

Amy Jensen
Photo Courtesy of Artist

Amy Jensen is a dramaturg and has worked with the New York Neo-Futurists, Jeanette Yew, East River Commedia, Sintroca, and at Geva Theatre and the Goodman Theatre. She has an MFA in Dramaturgy from Stony Brook University, and was a Fulbright scholar to Denmark. She is the NYC Regional VP for the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.




Nina Mankin is a dramaturg, writer, performer and educator and has written about performance for numerous print and online publications. She holds a Masters Degree (with honors) in Performance Studies from NYU and has taught at both Hunter College and Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York City.  She is the dramaturg and co-bookwriter (along with Composer/Lyricist Ricky Ian Gordon) of the musical Sycamore Trees (produced at Signature Theatre and noted as one of the Top Ten of 2010 by The Washington Post) and has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As a dramaturg, she has worked with many artists including David Levine, Faye Driscoll, Anne Bogart, Tony Kushner and Taylor Mac with whom she has developed three works: Red Tide BloomingThe Young Ladies Of and The Lily’s Revenge.  She is currently working with Murial Borst of Spiderwoman Theatre on a developing new work.  She is a NYTW Usual Suspect.


Gideon Lester Photo Courtesy of Artist

Gideon Lester
Photo Courtesy of Artist

Gideon Lester directs the new Arts Collaboration Lab at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches interdisciplinary courses on adaptation and project development.  As a curator, dramaturg, and artistic director he has collaborated with leading American and international artists including Neil Bartlett, Chen Shi-Zheng, Martha Clarke, Rinde Eckert, Krystian Lupa, Peter Sellars, Anna Deavere Smith, Robert Woodruff, Anne Washburn, and The Dresden Dolls. He worked at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1997 to 2009, as Resident Dramaturg, Associate Artistic Director, and for three seasons as Acting Artistic Director.  His work has been presented at theatres and festivals throughout the world including Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Edinburgh International Festival, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Festival d’Automne, and the Taipei Arts Festival, and he is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop.  Gideon’s numerous translations include plays by Marivaux, Büchner, and Brecht, and his stage adaptations include Kafka’s Amerika and Wenders’ Wings of Desire.  He directed the MFA program in Dramaturgy at the A.R.T./Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training, and taught playwriting, dramaturgy, and dramatic arts at Harvard University.  He studied English Literature at Oxford University and Dramaturgy at Harvard, where he was a Fulbright and Frank Knox Scholar.


Katherine Profetas Photo Courtesy of Artist

Katherine Profetas
Photo Courtesy of Artist

Katherine Profetais a NYC dramaturg who has worked with choreographer/visual artist Ralph Lemon since 1996; other collaborators over the years have included Julie Taymor, Karin Coonrod, Frederick Wiseman, Annie Dorsen, Emma Griffin, David Thomson, Theater for a New Audience, and most recently Alexandra Beller.  She is also a founding member of Elevator Repair Service theater company, and has lent her hand to nearly all of its productions since 1991. She directed 131, a performance work for three actors and a dancer, at PS122 in 2004. Profeta holds an MFA and DFA from the Yale School of Drama, conferred in December 2009 for her dissertation More Lost than Found: Charting Ralph Lemon’s Geography Trilogy from Conception through Performance. Her writing has been seen in Performing Arts JournalTheater MagazineMovement Research Performance Journal, TCG’s Production Notebooks, and is forthcoming in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training.  She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Drama, Theatre and Dance department at Queens College, CUNY.  Before Queens College she taught in the theater departments of Barnard and Yale Colleges, and at the Yale School of Drama.

Thursday, May 5, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free!