Purpose: create a well-written 500 word dramaturg program note for a production of The Colored Museum that provides audiences with insightful background information about this play as well as why this production is still relevant for 2018 audiences. Your writing will provide the audience with insight into Wolfe’s play that will enrich their viewing experience. In your note, you will guide the audience toward various themes of the play without actually revealing any outright.
Note: This is a formal writing assignment and spelling, grammar, word choice will count. Please see the rubric or grading guide at the end of this document.
You have already engaged in key areas of dramaturgical research for The Colored Museum:
1) You have read the full play
2) You have responded to the text paying special attention to the themes, images and style
3) You have researched at least one aspect of the play in more detail (your in-class work
with the scene “Symbiosis”) and discussed its significance
Now you are going to synthesize your knowledge of this play into a concise note for this production that will appear in the theater program.
What is a Dramaturg Note?
From “Dramaturgy Student Handbook” by Magda Romanska (Emerson College):
Good program notes are well chosen and concise. They should be written for a general audience in a clear, readable voice. Avoid long academic quotes and wordy analysis. Program notes enhance the audience’s understanding of the play, and they should be welcoming and accessible.
Because Wolfe wrote this play in the 1980s (it was published in 1986), it will be helpful to think about how things may (or may have not) changed in terms of the African American experience. Use the play’s themes (think about the theme of each scene or “exhibit”) to guide you as you place this play in the context of today: the workplace, politics, black beauty and fashion, etc.
It will also be helpful to look up any reviews of the original production to get a sense of how the play was received by audiences close to 30 years ago as well as find any general biographical information about the playwright George C. Wolfe.
Your note cannot exceed 500 words because it must fit into the theater program—something most dramaturgs must work with as they prepare their writing. Imagine that this piece of writing is in a program that the audience will read while they are sitting in the theater or the lobby waiting for the show to begin. Be clear and don’t assume the audience has read the play—most likely they have not!
Another way to think about this program note is to answer this question: What would you say to prepare your audience to view this play?