- About LMDA
- Who We Are
- LMDA Board and Executive Committee
- Regional Groups
- University Caucus
- Early Career Dramaturgs
- Grants and Awards
- Dramaturg Driven Grants
- LMDA Residency Program
- Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement
- GE Lessing Award for Career Achievement
- 2012 Grants and Awards Committee
- Resources For Dramaturgs
- LMDA Canada
LMDA in the late 1980s was fueled by the passions of many people who worked collectively to move the organization forward through organizational leadership and conference hosting: Alexis Greene, Cynthia Jenner, David Copelin, Rick Davis, Steven Hart, Lynn M. Thomson, Mark Bly, Morgan Jenness, Susan Jonas, and a host of others.
The third annual conference, in June of 1988, was titled “Dramaturgy and the Creative Process” and was held at the O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. Joe Chaikin gave a reading of his play Struck Dumb, co-authored with Jean-Claude van Itallie and commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum. At this conference, James Leverett was given an award for “Excellence in Dramaturgy.” Here is Leverett writing in the mid-80s in an article entitled “After the Revolution.”
Theatre can less and less afford to look like film and television, though it may always make creative use of them, along with everything else the world has to offer. It must, instead, look like exactly what it is: a finite space for infinite imagination.
The following year, LMDA hosted its first conference on the West coast. It was held at San Francisco State University with keynote speaker Anne Bogart, who spoke about connections among theatre, film, and television.
The early 1990s brought about a rush of activity for LMDA under the leadership of Anne Cattaneo, Victoria Abrash, Mark Bly, Jim Lewis, and others. In the summer of 1990, Richard Pettengill chaired a conference held in Chicago at DePaul University. At this conference, the name of the organization was changed to Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas. LMDA established a job line and hired Chiori Miyagawa as administrator, the first of several remarkable individuals to take on this position, to assist with memberships, conferences, and publications. Bravo!
And, yes, they really did have a picnic at the foot of the Lessing statue in Hyde Park, Chicago.
More Connections . . .
Between 1991 and 1993, through the labor of Geoff Proehl, John Lutterbie, and Susan Jonas, LMDA began reaching out in earnest to college and university dramaturgs. The first U Caucus Pre-Conference was organized by Susan Jonas, John Lutterbie, and Geoff Proehl for the 1992 Seattle conference.
By now Lutterbie and Elizabeth Ramirez had founded the "Dramaturgy Focus Group" of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Geoff Proehl subsequently led the ATHE Dramaturgy Focus Group and strengthened its ties to LMDA. Collaboration remains strong; LMDA is one of a number of ATHE affiliate organizations and, as such, LMDA officially sponsors sessions at ATHE conferences around North America. (Other affiliates include URTA, NAST, USITT, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, the Black Theatre Network, and the International Theatre Institute.) Past and current ATHE Focus Group leaders who remain significantly involved in connecting these two organizations include Geoff Proehl (former LMDA President), John Lutterbie (current LMDA Board), Cindy SoRelle (current LMDA Board Chair), D. J. Hopkins (current LMDA VP Publications and University Relations), Richard Pettengill (current LMDA member and ATHE Focus Group Representative), and Shelley Orr (former LMDA President).
Over 25 years, LMDA conferences have been hosted by Columbia University, the University of Minnesota, Connecticut’s O’Neill Theatre Center, San Francisco State University, DePaul University, Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, the University of Washington, Université du Quebec with McGill University, Emory University, Occidental College, Ryerson University, Yale University, the University of Puget Sound, George Mason University, Denver’s Public Library with Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Vancouver’s Simon Frazer University, Austin’s State Theatre with the University of Texas at Austin, the new Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis with the Playwrights’ Center, Canadian Stage Company with Toronto’s Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, LaJolla Playhouse with UC San Diego and San Diego State University, Woolly Mammoth Theatre and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
From the initial address by Des McAnuff, the roll call of keynote and other speakers has brought a continuity of inspiration and a tradition of both collaboration and outreach to LMDA gatherings: Robert Marx (National Endowment for the Arts), Arthur Ballet, Joe Chaikin, Anne Bogart, Eric Bentley, Michael Springate (at LMDA’s first bilingual conference in Montreal), Robert Whitehead, David Mirvish, Tomson Highway, Lloyd Richards, Ben Cameron, Robert Brustein, Morgan Jenness, George Thorn, Moisés Kaufman, Ashara Ekundayo, ErikEhn, Chuck Smith, Time Magazine’s Managing Editor Rick Stengel, former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, KevinKling, Polly Carl, Mexican playwrights Sylvia Paláez and Daniel Serrano, Suzan-Lori Parks, Bonnie Metzgar, Native Voices at the Autry, Naomi Iizuka, and NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca, among others.
Through the labor of several generations of dedicated LMDA leaders, support for LMDA has come from all of the institutions noted above as well as CUNY Graduate Center (which offered office space from 1987 to 1999), Theatre Communications Group (TCG, which published the Dramatists Sourcebook), the Dayton Hudson Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Dietrich Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), National Theatre Translation Fund, the Mellon Foundation, the Ettinger Foundation, Actors Theatre of Louisville Literary Office and Humana Festival, the Toronto Arts Council, Abrams Artists Agency in New York, The Haymarket Fund, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Alberta Theatre Projects, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Many were small grants and all, small or large, have been appreciated in full measure.