If you are serious about writing and the process of succeeding as a professional, you will be hard-pressed to find a better guide than Anne Hamilton. She is intelligent, compassionate and insightful in relation to the writing process. She is encouraging, relentless, and practical in relation to the professional process.
Clients have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award, the Tony® Award, and a Royal Court International Residency. They have also won major American playwriting prizes and become best-selling authors. Hamilton Dramaturgy services include script development, production dramaturgy, workshops, and master classes. STAGE DIRECTIONS magazine named Anne a ‘trailblazer’ in American dramaturgy.”
PWC Board Member Carol Sabik-Jaffe caught up with Anne to discuss her work and what she’s looking forward to in the conference. Read what she has to say after the break!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’ve been writing and singing since I was a little girl. I really enjoyed writing poetry, and then was attracted to the lyricism in singing popular and classical music. In high school, I started performing in musicals, and that is where I cemented my desire to be a lifelong theatre person. I earned a B.A. in English literature from Drew University, and then an M.F.A. in theatre criticism and dramaturgy from Columbia University School of the Arts. I entered the program as a theatre critic, and fell in love with dramaturgy.
How long have you been a dramaturg? What does it involve?
I have been a dramaturg for 24 years. For me, it involved many years of studying plays, history and other literature, and putting up a lot of shows. I sang and acted in prominent venues in NYC for 20 years, from pop numbers, to classical music in many languages, to revues of Broadway music, to opera. My years of experience as a performer has definitely informed my practice of dramaturgy. I pay special attention to the words the playwright has written, and try to honor the script, while taking into consideration the director’s vision.
How does one become a dramaturg?
There are many paths to becoming a dramaturg, but they all including some or all of the following: studying dramatic literature, acting, singing, composing, writing plays, directing, studying literature and history, and putting up plays. There is a great variety of dramaturgical training programs in the U.S. and abroad.
Your work has been recently produced (BTW…congrats!!!) Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I started writing plays in 1997, and have been having success with my submissions. I was a winner of the Cambridge Theatre Challenge in England with my short drama WHO’S ANDY WARHOL? It was produced in London at the end of 2014, and appears on YouTube. The Sky Blue Theatre produced the series, and they have renamed it the British Theatre Challenge. My comedic play OFEM won a place in the Little Black Dress INK Planting the Seed new festival, and it was read in Ithaca and Los Angeles, then produced in Arizona in January. It now appears online on Indie Theater Now. It’s is quite exciting for my plays to be produced.
How important are conferences and conventions to a writer?
Conferences and conventions allow writers to be inspired, to reconnect with their colleagues, and meet new people. It is always great to refresh your passion for writing, and to be inspired to write new pieces.
What are some hints for getting your butt in the seat and your hands on the keyboard?
I think that everyone’s process is different. It has always helped me to be aware of my periods of high energy, and to try to write something out during those times. I learned many years ago to listen to my muse. When I feel a poem, a play or a monologue coming on – when I hear a clear line in my head, that is – I drop everything and start writing.
How do you balance your writing time with the rest of your life’s responsibilities?
I always try to cultivate my writing time by being aware of my intuition and creative process. I immediately write down any form of creativity that comes to me. I don’t want to miss anything. Luckily, my creative life ebbs and flows, so I can get everything done. Making strict dramaturgy deadlines for responding to my playwriting clients helps me to get everything done, as well as giving me time to pay attention to my own creativity.
When did you first realize you were a writer?
I always loved to read. I realized I was a writer in 5th grade when there was a city-wide poetry contest, and I waited until 30 minutes before the deadline, wrote out a poem, and turned it in. I won the contest.
What are you most looking forward to at the 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference?
I like reviewing the basics of playwriting – structure, character, diction, etc. And I like reviewing my students’ scenes. So I look forward to sharing my expertise, and bringing out the best in the pieces that the students bring to the class. I want to inspire them to give themselves to take time to write what’s on their minds and hearts.
How has the new emphasis on a digital world impacted your writing?
I’ve followed the technology wave to make my job easier, beginning with reading newspapers and reviews, and plays online. I can easily conduct my freelance dramaturgy business from Bucks County, with clients from all over the world, and a base in NYC.
Find out more about Anne and her dramaturgy services at the Hamilton Dramaturgy web page!
Check out Carol Sabik-Jaffe’s website www.carolsabikjaffe.com
Ready to meet Anne and take her workshop, “Playwriting: Living Breathing Plays on Stage?” Register Here!