Dramaturgy and the Creative Process at PWM

Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal is committed to the exploration of dramaturgy as a process and a practice, fundamental to the creation of new work. 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.

At PWM, a Dramaturgical Collaboration begins with a conversation with the playwright/creator(s) and may evolve to include Workshops, Résidences, Mentorships, and Public Readings. A glossary of these terms can be found ici. Playwright/creator(s) and their creative process and vision are at the heart of PWM’s work. The organization strives to cultivate a space where playwright/creator(s) can be vulnerable, challenge themselves, and define their own risks and goals. PWM is committed to creating an environment where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. 

While playwriting has been at the core of PWM for over 50 years, its work also includes theatre translation as well as devised, digital, and interdisciplinary modes of theatre and performance creation. In addition to seeking collaborations with diverse artistic approaches, PWM is strongly committed to supporting works which reflect a wide range of cultural identities and lived experiences. We are continuously working to make all of our programs accessible and inclusive. 

PWM understands that the work of play development and performance making is not created in a vacuum, but that it interacts with society. Theatre is impactful, and therefore PWM considers not only how a piece is made and by whom, but also its effect and meaning beyond the walls of a creation studio. PWM collaborates with playwright/creator(s) that are wrestling with these complexities.

How We Work

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

PWM is aware 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. For application guidelines, please see our Dramaturgical Collaboration page.

We begin Dramaturgical Collaborations with playwright/creator(s) at any stage of their creative process. It could be an idea, a full draft (in whatever form that may be), or a new iteration of a project that has already been shared. It could be a play, a performance, a digital work (for example: AR/VR, interactive game-based presentation, live or prerecorded virtual performance) or something hybrid in terms of language, discipline, or technology.

We meet with the playwright/creator(s) and have 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, Résidences, Mentorships, Public Readings and professional development opportunities. A glossary of these terms can be found ici.

Our approach is to tailor the process to suit the playwright/creator(s) 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! We pay all the playwright/creator(s) and artists in our Résidence et Atelier programs. 

In addition, PWM’s programming takes many forms to ensure that vibrant playwright/creator(s) and thinkers come through the hub that is PWM on a regular basis. You can get an overview of all of PWM’s programming by exploring our menu page (you can do so by going to our home page and clicking on the menu button on the top right corner.)

Glossary of Terms

Dramaturgical Collaboration(s): An umbrella term that may include one or more of the elements listed in this glossary. All playwright/creator(s) and artists are paid for their participation in a Workshop, Residency, or Public Reading.

Dramaturgical Conversation(s): These conversations take place between the playwright/creator(s) and a dramaturg and are the foundation of all our Dramaturgical Collaborations. 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 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 project.

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.

Residency: As part of Dramaturgical Collaboration PWM may offer dedicated studio time for exploration (not rehearsal) to a playwright or creators developing a project with PWM. These residencies take place in our studio in Montreal and are separate from our national residencies at Gros Morne et Tadoussac.

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