Götz Leineweber holds an MA in cultural anthropology, theatre studies and philosophy from University of Cologne. He worked as an editor and journalist and got his postgraduate degree in cultural journalism from the University of Arts, Berlin in 2004. From 2004 he has been working as a dramaturg, first at Volksbühne (2004-07, Artistic Director: Frank Castorf), Schauspiel Köln (2007-2013: Artistic Director: Karin Beier) and Residenztheater Munich (2013-2019, Artistic Director: Martin Kušej). He has worked as a dramaturg with Karin Beier, Christoph Schlingensief, Martin Kušej, Dimiter Gotscheff, Gintersdorfer / Klaßen, Alvis Hermanis and Gob Squad amongst many others. Since 2015 he has been teaching ‘Theatre History and Dramaturgy’ at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and he taught “The Inclination to Gesamtkunstwerk” at the class of Anna Viebrock at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 2016/2017. As of July 2019, he is a freelance dramaturg for Burgtheater Vienna and others.
DSM writer Pranita Pandurangi caught up with him to chat about dramaturgy.
What does dramaturgy mean according to you?
Dramaturgy is a role (not to forget the relation to dramaturgy as a characteristic, as a function). By history the dramaturg is the person in the theatre who views the production with critical distance. A part of it, but also removed, the dramaturg continuously questions the production as a whole. She/(them)/he reflects on its needs, necessities and obstinacy but also on its practical constraints, regulated processes and automatisms. In a best-case scenario she/he relates the production back to the contexts in which it stands. In this way she/he embodies the demands of history, society and politics within the artistic process and, on the other hands, represents these to the outside world.
However, in the context of a changing political, cultural and media landscape, and in view of new forms of music theatre, dance and performance, the tasks of dramaturgy become more complex. Next to knowledge of the theatre as it actually exists, of its traditions and general framework, characteristics that a good dramaturg should posses include a social imagination, a knowledge of other possibilities, a sensitivity for the new and the unknown, the ability to articulate the new and the unknown. In order to do this, in addition to the specialist’s knowledge, she/he needs above all the basic virtues of every researcher: she/he should be able to read, look, think, hear, listen, write, and have the courage to use her/their/his own intellect. (Taken from the job description at Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Do you feel a need for dramaturgy workshops in India? If yes, why?
I cannot answer this question, Jehan Maneckshaw and Sophia Stepf should, they know the situation much better. I enjoyed curiosity of the participants in the workshop conducted this year in Bangalore and Kolkata and it looks like a lot of the hassles in theatre making are the same everywhere in the world. Dramaturgy can help that.
Can we expect more such workshops in the years to come?
I would like to continue the work. 100 dramaturgs in the country are better than 25.
Have you worked with a dramaturg for any of your productions before. If not, do you look forward to working with one in the future?
But sometimes I do direct. Then I always work with a dramaturg.
If more and more trained dramaturgs were to be employed in Indian productions, how would it affect the work being created in India?
It’ll simply get better. If you sharpen the vision of the makers, look for coherence in the means, know your audience, ask the right questions, then theatre gets better. As simple as that.
What, according to you, sets apart a play that uses a dramaturg from one that doesn’t?
It’ll get better (not only a play, any kind of theatre).
Tell us about your role in the dramaturgy workshops conducted by you and Sophia. What was your experience like?
Apart from the fruitful conversations with the participants about their projects, I enjoyed the dialogue with Sophia and Jehan, to question my own practice and to understand that “the dramaturg” is a state of mind rather than a job. It is a good thing to be the oldest.