International dramaturg while still just a junior, triple major Lukas Woodyard (theatre, English, comparative literature) shows why the A.B. degree is a key component of self-discovery for many UGA students:
At UGA, all my achievements and highlights involved my activities with the theatre department. I have been highly involved since I first stepped into this department. As a freshman, I was involved in a few productions such as UGA Theatre’s “Mrs. Packard” and Thalian Blackfriars’ “Middletown” and “Good Boys and True.” I became theatre ambassador in the same year as well and began recruiting and guiding new UGA students in the theatre department. It was not until fall semester of my sophomore year that I dove into the world of dramaturgy.
Dramaturgy can be defined as the theory and practice of dramatic composition. I research the background of the play and assist with the director, designers and actors on how to make the script presentable on stage, and I also enhance audience experience by creating lobby displays, notes for the program and moderate pre-show lectures and post-show talkbacks. My first experience was when I became the leading dramaturg for Thalian Blackfriars’ production of “Eclipsed” by Danai Gurira, which just finished its run on Broadway with Lupita Nyong’o. For the dramaturgy, I looked into the First and Second Liberian War and how it affected Liberian society and how the international world viewed and helped Liberia. I lectured the actors, directors and designers on the history and culture of Liberia that I was able to research and pulled in experts to enhance their art.
Following that success, I dramaturged UGA Theatre’s show “The Long Christmas Ride Home” by Paula Vogel. This experience made me decide to pursue dramaturgy as a career. With this show, I lectured the cast and director on Paula Vogel’s work, bunraku, Kabuki, Noh theatre, Japanese printmaking art, and the history surrounding all those listed. I got Paula Vogel — who is one of the leading playwrights in American theatre — to notice and acknowledge the production. I have since dramaturged other UGA Theatre shows such as “The Last Witch” and “Animal Farm” and Thalian Blackfriar’s “And Baby Makes Seven” by Paula Vogel.
This past summer has been the most eventful and exciting time of my life. I was able to study abroad in London with the theatre department under George Contini. For six weeks, I lived in London, saw so many professional theatrical productions and worked for a theatre company. After that experience, I continued my CURO research by traveling to New York City by myself. I took the most important course of my college career in spring of 2017. It is Fran Teague’s dramaturgy course where she taught us the basics to it as well as teach us important research skills such as how to use a database and how to use a library. Our final project for the class is to do research on anything that regards to performance.
I decided to do a dramaturgical look on Paula Vogel’s new play “Indecent” and the history surrounding the play’s source, Sholem Asch’s play “The God of Vengeance.” Vogel’s work fictionalizes and dramatizes Asch’s play from its early rejections to a vice squad arresting the whole cast and crew for the crime of indecency due to the show having the first lesbian kiss on Broadway. My research looks at the familiar aspects that makes this play contemporary to modern day immigrants, especially of Asian, Latin/Hispanic and Middle Eastern descent. I submitted and presented my research at the Women’s Studies Institute’s Symposium and the spring CURO Symposium. Dr. Teague then just told me to go ahead and apply for a CURO grant so I could see the show, which was about to be on Broadway. Thanks to her, I received a CURO summer assistantship. While in New York City, I stayed there for a week, visited some friends, visited the New York Public Library’s Billy Rose theatre collection to get material, and saw Vogel’s Indecent twice! I plan to continue my research under Dr. Fran Teague and George Contini.
All of these Amazing Student profiles are extraordinary in their own way, and Woodyard's journey at UGA offers a meta-encapsulation of promising student trajectory: his academic experience has crossed over into career training as simultaneus pursuits. Truly inspiring, as he himself seems humbled by the people and subjects of his theatre pursuits. He reminds us of something crucial: become great at something, and have fun doing it!