A recent sabbatical allowed Associate Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth to take a deep dive into a play cycle written by dramatist Preston Lane, founding artistic director and current producing artistic director of Triad Stage in Greenboro, N.C. She is serving as overall dramaturg for the seven plays in Lane’s Hawboro Project, which focuses on a small fictional town in North Carolina.
As dramaturg, Woodworth provides research, editorial advice and interpretation on a play-by-play basis, but says the opportunity to work on an entire play cycle is unusual. “I’m not just dramaturging one play, rather I’m working on a guide to the universe of all the Hawboro plays written so far and any that may appear in the future,” she says.
“Embarking on a project of this scale is unique,” she explains. “It’s afforded me the opportunity to find new platforms and mediums to translate the work of dramaturgy, expanding my reach as an artist-scholar.”
Her work on the play cycle includes a website she created on the mythical town of Hawboro. “[The website] is designed to function on two levels. For those new to Hawboro, it offers background on the town, the people and the previous plays,” says Woodworth. “For those who are Hawboro devotees, there are some hidden secrets that were revealed in previous Hawboro productions.”
Woodworth also created essays and other background material for the most recent play in the cycle, Two Wolves and a Lamb, which had its premiere in early February. She gave a post-show lecture for one performance, and is working on several other projects that span the plays, including a database of the characters who appear in Hawboro and historical information on the town.
“Some of the characters in the Hawboro plays appear in multiple productions,” Woodworth says. “For actors who are appearing for the first time, the background on Hawboro and its people may be useful to them as they situate their characters within the Hawboro universe.”
This semester at HWS, Woodworth is directing Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman in April. The play, which will be co-produced by the Geneva Theatre Guild, is a re-telling of Ovid’s classic masterpiece featuring the stories of Midas, Orpheus and Eurydice, among others. In March, Woodworth will assume the role of incoming president of the national Mid-America Theatre Conference.