Virtual Memories Show 454:
Anne Cattaneo

“Most people want to be on the stage, but I don’t.”

Lincoln Center Theater‘s dramaturg Anne Cattaneo joins the show to celebrate her new book, The Art of Dramaturgy (Yale University Press). We answer the pivotal question, “What does a dramaturg DO, exactly?” and explore the tradition of dramaturgy in Europe and America, while diving into the phenomenon of good theater, and the existence of Theatrons, those mysterious particles that circulate from stage to audience and back when Good Theater Happens. We get into how a dramaturg can supplement the work of the actors and director, how plays change during rehearsal and over the course of production, the importance of intuition and collaboration (as well as a thick skin) for a dramaturg, the joy of discovering new plays (and lost plays, and out-of-fashion plays) and finding new ways to stage classics, and the treasures that can be found in archives. We also talk about the economics of regional theater and how it constrains what plays get produced, the deep research she did to help a pair of actors in Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia understand why their characters had an affair, the triumph of staging Mule Bone, a lost play by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the impact of the pandemic on theater, the need to support older playwrights, and a LOT more. Give it a listen! And go read The Art of Dramaturgy!

“There are so many plays that can be discovered, that are just waiting.”

“America’s not a nation that a 300-year history of going to the theater, like Germany. . . . We have a theater tradition that’s just 50 years old; we forget how new it is.”

“The business side of regional theater has gotten bigger while the artistic staff got smaller.”

“When you understand another language, it helps you understand another culture, another way of life. Language reflects the reality of how people live in the world.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Anne Cattaneo is the longtime dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater, and creator and head of the 25 year old Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. At the announcement of her 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship for Theater Arts, American Theatre Magazine saluted her as “a legendary dramaturg.”

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Anne’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. B/W photo of Anne by Brigitte Lacombe, other photos by me. They’re on my instagram.