Michael Golamco and Annette Lee, both playwrights themselves, serve as dramaturgs for the 2018 Artists at Play Readings. Working closely with our playwrights, Chloé Hung and Nicholas Pilapil, they provide guidance and help to develop these new plays. Read on to learn about what excites them, what they love about the plays and what exactly a dramaturg does.

What excites you most about working on a new play?

Michael Golamco: I love helping someone execute their vision and finding ways to make it better. I get a rush from watching a new story come to life.  

Annette Lee: New plays are like babies. They can sometimes be unwieldy or difficult. Much of the time, you won’t know in which direction they are going and they will take you to places you had no idea existed. However, the amazing thing about a new play (and a baby) is the promise of what they will be. In the early stages, you can see it what it wants to be and help shape and guide it. And while there may only be one writer, it takes a team of people to develop a play.   

Golamco: Writers need advocates!  

Lee: The director through their guidance and the actors through their performances, have considerable on how the playwright will shape the work.  They let the playwright see, through their interpretations, what the play can grow up to be. 

Golamco: I love being an advocate for other writers because I know how challenging the job of writing can be. In my own career, other people have been crucial champions to my work — so it’s fantastic to be able to provide that voice for someone else. 

Artists at Play Readings all-company table read
(with dramaturgs Golamco and Lee, front left)

What do you think audiences will enjoy most about the plays you’re working on?

Golamco: THEY’RE BOTH FUNNY. Both of these plays deal with big, gut-wrenching, real-world situations…but they’re also FUNNY. What impresses me about both these playwrights is their strong balance between humor and drama. They recognize that the world is intrinsically full of both. It feels like audiences are already aware of that, so I think people are going to get a lot out of both plays.  

Lee: An audience that comes to a new play reading is ready to hear something surprising and are ready for a wild ride. They are open to new ideas, concepts and images. I think they are going to get all of those things. 

What is a dramaturg?

LeeA dramaturg can serve in a number of capacities. 

Golamco: Literary advisor, production advisor, life coach. 

LeeA dramaturg can provide analysis to the playwright and director, sometimes make suggestions on the direction in which the playwright can take the story and provide research. 

Golamco: To me, being a dramaturg to a playwright is like being a consigliere to a mob boss. I’m the guide, but ultimately, they’re the boss. My job is to advise them during the heated process of development, advance their vision, throw elbows.  

LeeThe dramaturg assists in shepherding the development of a new work.

GolamcoDuring that birthing process, a playwright is usually hyper-focused on their work—down to the word-to-word molecules of dialogue—so they rely on someone else to keep a 50,000 foot perspective and bash heads together to get them what they want.  

See Chloé Hung’s Three Woman of Swatow and Nicholas Pilapil’s Young Dumb Broke High School Kids in the 2018 Artists at Play Readings on Saturday, April 28.

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