RSSAuthor Archive for Dylan Southard

Dylan Southard

Dylan Southard is the co-Artistic Director of Needtheater and the resident dramaturg for The Robey Theatre Company. He has worked with The Center Theatre Group, The Geffen Playhouse, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Centerstage Baltimore, Native Voices at the Autry, the Network of Ensemble Theatres, Theatre Dybbuk, Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble and LoNyLa among others. He can be found @dylansouthard.

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays for Live TV, Cable Edition

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays for Live TV, Cable Edition

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that NBC has chosen to draw their water from this particular, theatrical well. In conceiving of these live, musical broadcasts of theirs, the network has chosen The Sound of Music and Peter Pan as source material, two pieces of theater that long ago ceased to be pieces of theater. […]

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays For 5 Theme Parks

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays For 5 Theme Parks

Los Angeles theater is currently lost in a messy argument about how exactly it should divide up its income, an argument I couldn’t dive into even if I wanted and, really, if you spend any amount time on this site then you’ve already heard all about it. What interests me though is how rarely the […]

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays for 5 Comebacks

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays for 5 Comebacks

Among the many reasons to find Variety a reliably goofy read is its decision to group its theatre reviews and news under the header, “Legit.” This never ceases to amuse me. It feels like part of some worn and lovable Hollywood tradition, like Musso & Frank’s, like theatre is the aging but still reliable warhorse […]

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays For Our Virtual Reality Future

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays For Our Virtual Reality Future

Conceptually at least, virtual reality has been around for a long time. I myself grew up on the mid-90s vision of it best depicted in Aerosmith’s “Amazing” music video and the Denzel/Russell classic Virtuosity. It’s gained a major head of steam in recent years though as the technology needed to really pull it off has […]

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays for Burning Man

Dramaturgy Playlist: 5 Plays for Burning Man

Breaking news, guys. I don’t know what finally gave it away—the giant, elaborately designed pieces of mechanized art or the thousands of people walking around dressed primarily in LEDs—but I’m here to confirm that Burning Man is a theatrically rich environment. It comes full of everything we expect from theater—lights, sets, DIY special effects, unnecessary […]

The Dramaturg: Wrestlemania!

The Dramaturg: Wrestlemania!

On April Fool’s Day, 1990, 67,678 people paid to enter Toronto’s brand-new Skydome stadium to watch a succession of men in their underwear pretend to fight. Even more stupendously, a half million more had already purchased the right to watch a descrambled, live broadcast of this gargantuan spectacle, called Wrestlemania VI, from the comforts of […]

The Dramaturg: America's Most Relevant Play, The Finals!

The Dramaturg: America’s Most Relevant Play, The Finals!

The most popular form of live performance in this country is professional sports. This means that our conception of performance is shaped around competition, and the notion that an enacted story involves some representation of a fight; someone simultaneously fighting against something and for something. Consider boxing, which is basically just advanced fist-fighting, and, not […]

The Dramaturg: America's Most Relevant Play, The Final Four

The Dramaturg: America’s Most Relevant Play, The Final Four

A behind-the-scenes factoid to open up our Final Four coverage: I initially planned for How I Learned To Drive to win this tournament. I know!! Whoa!!! This passed quickly though once I realized that, to its credit, that play had already moved through immediate relevancy and into a kind of permanent, historical legacy. But I’ve […]

The Dramaturg: America's Most Relevant Play, Round 2

The Dramaturg: America’s Most Relevant Play, Round 2

Welcome to the second round, everyone. Glad you could join us on this beautiful day for theatrical bloodsport! A quick note of congratulations before we get to it goes out to Annie Baker for taking home the 2014 Pulitzer in Drama for The Flick. Her Circle Mirror Transformation was just a Tony nom away from […]

The Dramaturg: America's Most Relevant Play: Round 1, Fight!

The Dramaturg: America’s Most Relevant Play: Round 1, Fight!

Yeah, we’re not screwing around here. America’s most relevant play, specifically of the last twenty years. You see, twenty years ago, Angels in America closed on Broadway. Now that play was important on a level that nothing we’ll be talking about here can even approach. The plays here are relevant in the context of American […]

The Dramaturg: The Spine-Tingling Allure of the Backlot Tour

The Dramaturg: The Spine-Tingling Allure of the Backlot Tour

H.G. Wells’ classic tale of alien invasion and imperial paranoia, The War of the Worlds, was first published in serialized form in 1897. It was then made historic in 1938 when Orson Welles did it as a fake news broadcast (a top contender in VH1’s “100 Greatest Moments in Storytelling History”). Sixty-seven years later, Steven Spielberg […]

Dramaturgy Case Study: The XXII Olympic Closing Ceremonies

Dramaturgy Case Study: The XXII Olympic Closing Ceremonies

“Pageantry” is a fun word to say. Something about the big, opening “Paah” sliding down pleasantly into the bouncy “-gin” and then the slightly elongated “-tree” makes it sound extra plummy and rich. I like to imagine Roger Rees saying it. It’s a word meant to be said with zest, which may at first seem […]

The Dramaturg: Party Theater

The Dramaturg: Party Theater

There’s a certain kind of live entertainment that has stayed reliably popular pretty much since the dawn of man. People like to party. They like to go to parties. From time to time, they like to throw parties. We’ve erected whole towns to enable better partying. Days of the year have been exclusively reserved for […]

Dramaturgy Case Study: Penn & Teller

Dramaturgy Case Study: Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller’s How To Play With Your Food was published on November 18, 1992 and given to my father as a Christmas present a month later. I think I took full and sole possession on December 26. The book had instructions on how to pull off all sorts of food-based pranks, came complete with […]

The Dramaturg: Knott's Scary Farm and the Theatrics of Fear

The Dramaturg: Knott’s Scary Farm and the Theatrics of Fear

Xcelerator makes for an arresting sight on the Knott’s Berry Skyline. From a distance, it looks kinda like a building, or at least the outline of one. This is what is known in roller coaster design as a top hat, essentially a tall hill with a ninety-degree ascent and then a ninety-degree descent. Xcelerator’s is […]

The Dramaturg: The Purge, Kanye West and the Awkward Adolescence of Immersive Theater

The Dramaturg: The Purge, Kanye West and the Awkward Adolescence of Immersive Theater

About twenty minutes into The Purge: Fear The Night, an “actor” wearing commando make-up and carrying what looked like a spray-painted Super Soaker ordered me in no uncertain terms to climb into a tiny and rank shower stall and clean it with a toothbrush. At that point, at least according to what I could gather, […]

The Dramaturg: Hollywood's Greatest Fake Play: The Finals!

The Dramaturg: Hollywood’s Greatest Fake Play: The Finals!

It’s the Finals! Extra exclamation points!!! (2) “Red, White and Blaine” from Waiting for Guffman vs. (5) “Heaven and Hell” from Rushmore  When I started this tournament of mine, I didn’t have the clearest idea of how I was going to judge things. I sorta figured I’d approach each of those first round match-ups on their […]

The Dramaturg: Hollywood's Greatest Fake Play: The Semis, pt. 2

The Dramaturg: Hollywood’s Greatest Fake Play: The Semis, pt. 2

The Simpsons episode featuring “Stop The Planet of the Apes. I Want To Get Off” (hereafter referred to as STPOTAIWTGO) is titled “A Fish Called Selma” and comes from 1996, the tail end of a fairly sallow period for Broadway musicals. For instance, the battle for the ’95 Tony for Best Musical was a race […]

The Dramaturg: Hollywood's Greatest Fake Plays: The Semis!

The Dramaturg: Hollywood’s Greatest Fake Plays: The Semis!

Semi-Finals, Game #1: Springtime for Hitler vs. Heaven and Hell Film’s method of artistic reasoning has always seemed like kind of a killjoy to me-the idea that the best way to represent an action is to reproduce it in the most realistic way possible. This, in turn, has created an audience overly attuned to believability, one of the […]

The Dramaturg: Hollywood's Greatest Fake Plays, Rd. 2: Rise of the Apes

The Dramaturg: Hollywood’s Greatest Fake Plays, Rd. 2: Rise of the Apes

Welcome to the second round, where the fake play wheat really begins to separate from the fake play chaff. A few quick notes before we move into the match-ups: Most astounding omission from the tournament: “Lease” from Team America: World Police. I have no idea how I forgot about this Rent parody and its show-stopping […]

The Dramaturg, Tournament Edition: Hollywood's Greatest Fake Plays, Rd. 1

The Dramaturg, Tournament Edition: Hollywood’s Greatest Fake Plays, Rd. 1

I spend way more time watching TV shows and movies than I do watching plays. It’s not even close. If I stopped watching TV shows and movies today and never watched another again, I still don’t think the amount of time I spend at plays would ever catch up. I imagine this is unusual for […]

The Dramaturg: Rise of the Superstory

The Dramaturg: Rise of the Superstory

In the parlance of grifters, charlatans and other, assorted flimflam men, a long con is one that unfolds over a sustained period of time. It relies on the construction of an intricate, multistage story designed to create trust between the conman and the mark, eventually allowing the perpetrators to walk away with large sums of […]

Dramaturgy Case Study: The Secret of Monkey Island

Dramaturgy Case Study: The Secret of Monkey Island

Fairly early on in the computer game The Secret of Monkey Island, our hero, the fantastically named Guybrush Threepwood, is apprehended by power-hungry sheriff Fester Shinetop (the names!!) and fitted for the proverbial cement boots, dropped into the ocean while chained to a giant statue that Threepwood had set out to steal from the Governor’s […]

The Dramaturg: Live!

The Dramaturg: Live!

At the increasingly frantic intersection of psychology and video game design, there’s a term, “cognitive flow,” which describes the kind of mental state that games strive to induce in their players. The psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi first coined the term, describing it as, “the satisfying, exhilarating feeling of creative accomplishment and heightened functioning.” Now, “satisfying” and […]

Dramaturgy Case Study: Family Guy, episode #198

Dramaturgy Case Study: Family Guy, episode #198

I’m totally biting Colin’s idea. I can live with that though because if Family Guy is going to the theater world as the setting for an episode, I’m going with them. It sorta pains me to admit it given its plummeting credibility, but Family Guy is a perennial regular in my TV viewing line-up. The […]

The Dramaturg: Dramaturgy Case Study: J.M. Synge, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and The 1999 British Open

The Dramaturg: Dramaturgy Case Study: J.M. Synge, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and The 1999 British Open

Golf is the best sport to watch hungover. I’ve researched this myself. The pace is unhurried. No one speaks above a whisper. And the dominant image is of small groups of nicely dressed people strolling through vast expanses of manicured lawns. Every golf telecast is like a very long, pastoral lullaby. On the other hand, […]

The Dramaturg: Dramaturgy Case Study: The Gnawing Horror of Skittles Commercials

The Dramaturg: Dramaturgy Case Study: The Gnawing Horror of Skittles Commercials

Conservatively, I would say that candy comprises about 10% of my total diet. I can’t decide how alarming this is. I think it’s a lot. I spend an uncomfortable amount of time standing over the candy aisle at 7-11, considering the pros and cons of various candy brands. Yet I almost never consider Skittles. I […]

The Dramaturg: Loving The Silent Tears

The Dramaturg: Loving The Silent Tears

A couple of weeks ago, I started to get emails from representatives of the new musical, Loving The Silent Tears, inviting me to attend their red-carpet premiere that was held at the Shrine Auditorium this past weekend. In their words, “We would most appreciate a post-event editorial, complete with visuals, first-hand accounts, and all the […]

My Best Friend, The Dramaturg

My Best Friend, The Dramaturg

There’s a large chunk of a dramaturg’s job that is vague and amorphous and sorta sounds like bullshit whenever you try to describe it. It’s also the most exciting part of the job, at least for me. And the most challenging. It’s the collision of dramaturg and playwright. This usually comes about when a theater […]

The Dramaturg: Site-Unspecific

The Dramaturg: Site-Unspecific

Let’s not talk about theater (we’ll get back to it, trust). Let’s talk about computer games instead. Computer games are far and away the most popular form of narrative entertainment out there. They blow everyone else away. This makes them very influential and it means that the particular way they tell their stories is going […]