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Natalie Robin: Design Is Dramaturgy

Mon, March 9th, 2020
4:14 pm
- 5:15 pm

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Design education in America has become stagnated in a craft and skill-based approach. I believe that design is dramaturgy and so designers must be trained to think like dramaturgs and treated as such in the room. Beginning with a presentation on my own teaching strategies centered around the thesis that “Design is Dramaturgy,” this workshop will include an extended discussion section. Beginning with classroom projects, production approaches and curriculum goals I will unpack a way of teaching design that is, perhaps, an alternative to how it has been taught. I am interested in inviting alternative perspectives.

Along with their fellow collaborators, designers are storytellers, adaptors and translators. They must be able to dissect the text of a play or the rhythm of a score to expose the story within; they must be able to communicate verbally and visually. To teach artists is to teach them to think critically, to teach them to look at the world, and to expose them to the many points of cultural reference that add depth and subtlety to design and performance. My aim with this workshop is to open up perspectives on what a design curriculum (in a single class or across a program) can look like.

This workshop should be a space for sharing ideas and discussion in response to the proposal.

Reservations not required.

Natalie Robin is a Philadelphia-based lighting designer whose work focuses on new American plays, contemporary dance, unexpected musicals and site-specific performance. She believes that design is dramaturgy and is interested in how the generative text for work can be found in movement as much as in language. Her work expresses emotional narratives through light as an ephemeral and time-based medium.

Natalie is the Head of Theater Design & Technology in the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has been a faculty member or guest artist at Bard College, Muhlenberg College, Hofstra University, the University of New Haven, NYU/Tisch, Brooklyn College, the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, Williams College, and Alfred University. Her most recent collaboration FIXING with choreographer Meg Foley premiered at the site-specific performance festival FORMATIONS at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial where she also spoke on a panel entitled “Pedagogy: Conversations about teaching of performance design: views, perspectives and evolutions.”

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