Bly to serve Alley, UH as dramaturg

The world of theater will share one of its best-kept secrets when renowned dramaturg Mark Bly brings his expertise to UH.

Bly, 59, will take on the role of distinguished professor of theater as part of the Alley Theatre’s new partnership with the UH School of Theatre and Dance’s Master of Fine Arts program in July.

Bly, who will teach classes in dramaturgy and playwriting, said he hopes to inspire in students a questioning spirit and wants to help them discover an innate curiosity within themselves.

"They can call upon that discovery for the rest of their creative lives," Bly said. "That’s what makes theater exciting for me. To share my hunger for the stage and the world and to ignite a spark of curiosity that, I hope, will feed their creative spirits for years to come."

He will also assume the role of senior dramaturg and director of new play development at The Alley Theatre in July. Bly says he was drawn to the Alley Theatre because it performs a full spectrum of drama and because of its reputation as a vibrant and innovative theater.

"The Alley Theatre is eager to expand their work in new play development and I am thrilled that Gregory Boyd has asked me to lead with him," Bly said. "I am excited to work with The Alley Theatre and the University of Houston in helping them to develop a conservatory relationship. Such a fertile, progressive conservatory relationship is rare in the United States."

The position of dramaturg is a recent development in American theater. Innovated by playwright Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in 18th century Germany, a dramaturg’s contribution ranges from working in rehearsals to editing classic and new plays. l for me as a dramaturg is to be that artist who helps the director and her collaborators to shape the textual, socio-political, directing, acting and design elements or values on a production," Bly said.

You won’t get any limiting textbook definitions from Bly, who previously collaborated on stage with actors Julianne Moore and Stanley Tucci long before they were household names. His 30 years in the theater have taught him that it is important to bring fresh eyes to every project.

"You must approach each new work as if it was a world unto itself," Bly said. "You have to explore its uniqueness… to clear away the accumulated layers of received conventional wisdom. There must be in rehearsal an atmosphere of rigorous curiosity, flexibility and spontaneity."

Known in theater circles as a pioneer in the field of dramaturgy, Bly finds inspiration in the individualism and creativity of others. While advising on a play titled 33 Variations, Bly found himself inspired and drawn to the creative process of Moises Kaufman, playwright, director and founder of Tectonic Theater Project. The project, which centered on the mystery of Beethoven’s creative obsession with an insignificant waltz. It will appear on Broadway in the coming 2008-2009 season.

Bly served as the chair of the graduate playwriting department at the Yale School of Drama and was associate artistic director for Yale Repertory Theatre from 1992 to 2004.

Leave a Comment