Theatre Studies, Dance Studies and Musical Theatre?

How does that even go together and why would I even bother to ask?

As those of you who read the “about” Page of this blog might know – I just earned my BA’s degree in theatre studies (well, technically not yet…because somehow my thesis takes loooooong to read and grade and everything) after three years of diving into the discours about performativity and gender and participation and stuff (now that I’m thinking about it, that’s basically what I did for three years….but it’s great).

Back when I decided I wanted to earn my BA in theatre studies I already loved musical theatre of any kind, because I’ve always loved it as a child and I just had been working with Komische Oper Berlin for pretty much all the season on and off – but in my departement musical theatre was barely to never talked about and there were some dialogues happening like the following:

Classmate (third year of BA studies): “I’ve never been to the opera!”
Theaterkind: “Really?”
Classmate: “No, I don’t even know…do they have an avantgarde or something?”

And that was it. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. That’s like one of the poorest things (if not: the absolute poorest thing ever!) for a theatre studies major to say. That was over a year ago and I’m still not over it – if the one who said that can still remember that dialogue and is reading it: You have me scarred for life.🙂

This past spring I wrote a paper about gender theories and Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, which in its early version (known as Leonore) is one of my all time favourites. Sadly it either was too bad or my teacher really didn’t like musical theatre. Or a combination of both. Anyways. I still love musical theatre and I’m still pretty proud of that paper.

Since I haven’t that much knowledge of musical theory (really, my ears are like very, very badly trained) I’ll never be able to study something like musicology and to be honest, my intrest is definetly the theatrical side of music. So I after my BA studies I went on and enrolled in the Master’s programme of dance studies which is offered at my school because I really wanted to stay at “my” department (I also work there, so….) and I really liked the thought of studying the different parts of musical theatre on their own. As I already mentioned I was very occupied by gender- and body-theories during my BA studies and that was another reason to move on to the dance studies. How do we actually see those bodies on stage is one of the most integral questions I ask myself about theatre – and when I watched Philipp Büttner perform “Sex is in the Heel” from Kinky Boots in early December I was (again) proven that this is actually an interesting question, even (or: especially) in musical theatre which seems to be so superficial and like “a woman is a woman and a man is a man” on so many occasions if you don’t look close enough. (check out his performance!) An other occasion was when I saw Once last September – that was when I learned a ton about musical theatre and dance. And dancing in musical theatre! (I just recently wrote a text about dacing in the scene of “Gold” in Once the Musical for a class about writing about dance, it’s mostly German and I’m sure I can’t translate it, but I think I might post it here some time soon anyways – a treat for my German speaking readers)

Now I’m applying for several dramaturgy programmes and right now I kind of really want to go to a school which is mostly dedicated to dramatic arts as in (straight) plays. They mostly have acting and directing (as in “I go and direct a text that’s already existing”) programmes. Of course there are some schools all over the country teaching dramaturgy for musical theatre, but in my situation right now it would be a) good for me to stay in Berlin because I’m rather engaged with work here and this drama-focused school happens to be in Berlin and b) learning another take on theatre would be great (plus I’m used to working on music stuff on my own, so there wouldn’t be much change…). What I got to know during my BA studies is very different from the things I’m sure I’ll be confronted with when I’ll work as a dramaturg – and after all that’s what I want to do one day. And I also think that learning about plays and how to work with that can be actually productive when working with musical theatre. As much as the differences are stressed over and over again I think they’re pretty much two sides of the same coin. I mean it’s theatre! Of course, music gives us a huge hint of what “the author” (what ever that is…) actually meant, but is theatre about what an author (could have) meant? I mean, really?

Isn’t it about new ways to interpret something? And after all that’s the same with plays or musical theatre pieces. It’s about listening to what the piece tells you and what you can tell the piece. Text-wise or music-wise.

So, let’s just listen, okay? Let’s just think about what we can give back to the theatre, how we could make it our own, okay?
Let’s think about it and create something new out of us and the material. Can we agree on that?

What do you love most about theatre? I’d love to hear about it!

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