Dramaturgy at PWM

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal (PWM) is a dramaturgically-focused theatre creation and development company. 

Dramaturgy is an exploration of all the elements that make a work, how they are brought together to create meaning, and what the process for developing that work might be.  We are committed to the exploration of dramaturgy as a process and as a discipline, and its application to the creation of new work. 

PWM understands that the work of playwriting and performance making is not created in a vacuum, but that it interacts with society. Theatre can be impactful, and therefore we consider not only how a piece is made and by whom, but also its effect and meaning beyond the walls of our studio. We collaborate with artists that are wrestling with these complexities.

PWM understands that the act of creation is necessarily socially engaged. We are actively committed to principles of feminism, anti-racist practice, and social justice. 

At PWM, the artist is at the centre of our work. We strive to cultivate a space where artists can be vulnerable, challenge themselves, and define their own risks and goals. 

PWM centers voices and stories that have been, and continue to be, underrepresented. 

We recognize that the identity of each person is fundamentally plural, multidimensional, changing and evolving.

PWM is continuously working to make all our programs accessible. We are committed to working with artists in creating spaces within which Indigenous artists (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), racialized artists (including recent immigrants), members of the 2SLGBTQQIPAA+ communities and/or neurodiverse or disabled artists as well as artists living with disabilities and chronic diseases can create. 

How we work

PWM works with playwrights, creators and companies who are making work for theatre and live performance.

PWM is mindful that developing new work needs to be planned and resourced. For these reasons we have initiated an Application process for all our dramaturgical collaborations that will take place once a year, at the end of the present season. For application guidelines please see our application process page.

We begin dramaturgical collaborations with artists at any stage of their creative process. This can include the idea stage, first draft stage, or as it nears production. We meet with the creator/s and having a conversation about their work. We listen with attention and care to understand who an artist is, what they are making, and how they want their work to evolve. We respect that collaboration is an act of deep trust.

We work hard at keeping the environment free from the pressures of production by focusing on the exploratory phase of the work. We offer opportunities for deep investigation which may include dramaturgical conversations, workshops, studio residencies, mentorships, readings, and professional development opportunities.

We collaborate on a variety of work, and essential to our approach is tailoring the process to suit the artist and the needs of their project. Sometimes our collaborations are brief, sometimes they are sustained over long periods of time. Sometimes we work one-on-one, sometimes we assemble a team!

PWM programming takes form in the shape of artist residencies, creation labs, public readings, seminars on playwriting and dramaturgy workshops. We organize mentorships and exploring practise sessions to ensure that many vibrant artists and thinkers come through the hub that is PWM.

PWM recognizes the labour involved, inherent cost of art. PWM believes that the work of creating new theatre has value. We pay all our artists in our Residency and Workshop programs. 

Glossary of terms

Dramaturgical conversation: These conversations often take place between the playwright/creator(s) and a dramaturg. Conversation is the essence of a dramaturgical relationship. Listening and asking questions are fundamental for the dramaturg to understand the artist and what they are trying to make. Ideas, process, and challenges may all be points of discussion. Conversations may include but are not limited to feedback from the dramaturg on a draft or a performance. These conversations will help the dramaturg and playwright/creator(s) design a process for developing the work at PWM. All of our dramaturgical collaborations include dramaturgical conversations.

Workshop: An opportunity to explore a work in progress with actors/collaborators in order to evolve the project. The workshop is led by a dramaturg in collaboration with the playwright/creator(s). If the project is text based, it will be read by a company of actors and the playwright and dramaturg will then have the opportunity to ask and explore questions with the company. If the project is not text based the workshop is designed around whatever elements create the narrative/event. Sometimes a private reading for invited guests is a part of a workshop, and it is used as an opportunity to introduce the work to an audience for the first time. The length of a workshop is determined by the needs of the process. All artists are paid for their participation in a workshop.

Public Readings: The dramaturg, in collaboration with the playwright/creator determines when a piece is ready to meet an audience as part of the developmental process. Public Readings are set up so that the audience becomes part of the ongoing exploration of the work. They offer an opportunity for the playwright/creator and dramaturg to experience the audience’s real-time response-is the humour working, are they engaged in story, etc. If appropriate, a moderated feedback session or discussion follows the public presentation of the work in progress. All artists are paid for their participation in a Public Reading.

Mentorship: Mentorships are set up to answer a very specific need in the early stages of a creation process. In collaboration with a PWM Dramaturg, the playwright/creator determines who is best suited to accompany them through this essential phase. This may be an expert in a given discipline, a creator from a similar or different discipline, or a dramaturg with a particular field of experience. The mentor is paid by PWM to work with the mentee.

Studio Residency: we provide our studio for exploration to a company/individual developing a project with PWM.

Résidence: As part of dramaturgical collaboration we may decide to bring in the playwright/creator(s) to Montreal if they are from elsewhere for a residency. A residency can include all the above. PWM pays for the artists travel, accommodation and per diem.