Notable Achievements

Among LMDA‘s notable achievements over the past 25 years are these services to the profession.

The LMDA Review, currently an online, peer reviewed journal serving as the organization‘s voice of dramaturgy and, under the editorship of D. J. Hopkins, in the process of achieving MLA accreditation. Generations of editorial and other leadership include Rick Davis, Steven Hart, Carey Perloff, Anne Cattaneo, Geoff Proehl, and Shelley Orr.

The LMDA Script Exchange, founded by Lynn M. Thomson and Anne Cattaneo to establish national networking about new plays and to build a community of new play dramaturgs; in its first eight years alone, the Script Exchange published 35 issues that included reviews of more than 1,000 new plays.

LMDA’s Advocacy Caucus, founded in 1996 by Lynn M. Thomson, which provided the first guidelines for employment of freelance dramaturgs based on member surveys conducted by the Caucus (with Lynn Thomson and Shirley Fishman at the helm) and ultimately generated the current LMDA Employment Guidelines.

The “virtual” presence of LMDA, which began with an electronic bulletin board system generated by Richard Finkelstein, then developed into the U Caucus Discussion List (1994), became affiliated for many years with the Dramaturgy Northwest website under the guidance of Geoff Proehl with support from the University of Puget Sound, and now includes the official LMDA website. The LMDA website is rich with national and international resources, and the organization also operates through our social networking presence on Facebook. Finally, the LMDA listserv, open to members and nonmembers, provides a forum for those seeking information about plays, production dramaturgy, current issues and events, and a myriad of other discussion points and debates pertaining to professional theatre — from local to international. It serves the needs of a diverse population of theatre practitioners and teachers.

Member-authored (and often LMDA> incubated) dramaturgy publications that both report and drive the profession, including the LMDA Source Book, Volume I (edited by Susan Jonas, for teachers), the Source Book, Volume II (Susan Jonas and Lee Devin); Mark Bly‘s seminal The Production Notebooks (Volume 1, 1997, Volume 2, 2001); the LMDA Bibliography, the Guide to Dramaturgy Training Programs, and Guide to Internships; Dramaturgy in American Theatre (Jonas, Lupu and Proehl, 1997); Between the Lines: the Process of Dramaturgy(Judith Rudakoff and Lynn Thomson, 2002); the Twentieth Anniversary Book (interviews with LMDA‘s past leaders by Shelley Orr and Liz Engelman, 2004); International Resources (edited by Vanessa Porteous and Madeleine Oldham); Internship Guidelines (edited by Brian Quirt and Carrie Hughes); Artful Making (Lee Devin and Robert Austin, 2003; Elliott Hayes winner, 2005); numerous articles by Paul Walsh, Michael Bigelow Dixon, Mark Bly, and DD Kugler; and most recently Geoff Proehl‘s Toward a DramaturgicalSensibility: Landscape and Journey (winner of ATHE‘s 2009 Outstanding Book on Theatre Award) and The Process of Dramaturgy: A Handbook by Julie Felise Dubiner, Scott R. Irelan and Anne Fletcher (2010).

Since 1991, a system of regional vice-presidents, who maintain a yearlong presence around the Americas and stage mini-conferences and other events for the dramaturgical and literary management communities—as well as promoting regional theatre venues and a healthy regional ecology. (See our website for the regions, which also provide lists of members in each.)

The successful Dramaturg-Driven Projects initiative Residency Grants, and Early Career Dramaturgs fund raisers, through which LMDA members and officers have raised funds to support the temporary hiring of dramaturgs at venues without staff literary support (sometimes leading to long-term employment); have awarded grants to dramaturg-driven projects in theatre, dance, and opera; have brought emerging dramaturgs to conferences by assisting with travel funds; and have provided a first year‘s free membership for ATHE‘s Dramaturgy Debut Panel winners and for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival‘s eight yearly dramaturgy competition regional winners. These programs have been driven by members Maxine Kern with the assistance of Susan Jonas (residencies); Kelly Miller, Madeleine Oldham, and currently Julie Felise Dubiner (ECDs funding); and D.J. Hopkins, Liz Engelman, Brian Quirt, Shelley Orr, Cindy SoRelle, Megan Monaghan, and Gregg Henry (ATHE/KCACTF initiatives).

Beginning in 2004, LMDA leaders Liz Engelman, Mark Bly, and Brian Quirt first generated an international dialoguewith playwrights and literary managers in Mexico, the UK (Dramaturgs‘ Network), and Europe—connections that have brought a host of visiting theatre practitioners to LMDA conferences and have generated current and potential collaborations as well as the international resources project noted above. The UK dramaturgs‘ network has studied our model. The Toronto, Minneapolis, and San Diego conferences provided for our international colleagues—playwrights and dramaturgs — a forum for presenting their work.

In 1999, through the labor of Michael Bigelow Dixon and Amy Wegner, LMDA established the Elliott Hayes Award, to be given annually for outstanding dramaturgy in the Americas.  The award is named for the late Elliott Hayes, longtime literary manager and dramaturge for the Stratford Festival, who lost his life prematurely in an automobile accident.  Its first recipients were Michele Volansky (Steppenwolf Theatre Company) and Lue Morgan Douthit (Oregon Shakespeare Festival).  Subsequent Hayes award honorees include Rebecca Rugg, Lynne M. Thomson, Judith Rudakoff, Megan Monaghan, Freddie Ashley, Brian Quirt (2), Mallory Catlett, Scott Horstein, Lee Devin, Melinda Finberg, Amy Steele, Ed Sobel, and Ilana Brownstein.  It was awarded to Robyn Quick at the 25th Anniversary Conference banquet.

Finally, LMDA‘s Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Award, our most prestigious tribute, given for a lifetime of achievement, has been conferred upon Anne Cattaneo (1998), Arthur Ballet (2002), and Michael Lupu (2006). This award was again presented to Mark Bly during our 25th anniversary conference.

Who We Are

Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas was founded in 1985 as the volunteer membership organization for the professions of literary management and dramaturgy. LMDA is a not-for-profit tax-exempt organization with members throughout North America and abroad.

LMDA holds the belief that theater is a vital art form that has the power to nourish, educate, and transform individuals and their communities and that dramaturgy is central to the process of theater-making.

LMDA is committed to the following objectives:

  • to affirm, support, and broaden the roles that literary managers and dramaturgs play in the theater
  • to promote the exchange of information about the function, practice, and value of literary management and dramaturgy
  • to encourage cooperation among the practitioners and theoreticians of dramaturgy
  • to expand the boundaries of the field and enrich our conversation about the making of live performance by welcoming colleagues from disciplines such as dance, opera, and performance art
  • to put emphasis on international exchange, as well as a commitment to diversity of form, culture, and content
  • to encourage regional activity across North America

Please consider joining LMDA and adding your voice to these conversations.


Our History

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