From Our Mouths: A 2023 LMDA Conference Reflection


AED Heidi Taylor, Artistic Associate Alyssa Formosa, and Block D alums Jesse Del Fierro and Ashley Chodat took a dramaturgy road trip together to attend the LMDA Conference in Banff last month! Here’s a peek into their journey:

2023 LMDA Conference Reflection: The Power of Process

Before the 2023 LMDA Conference, I couldn’t have confidently called myself a dramaturg. How do you identify with something so intangible yet profound? A playwright writes plays. A director directs. A producer produces. Do dramaturgs… dramaturg? I struggled to put words to the thing I so desperately wanted to be. My identity crisis only deepened on the eleven-hour drive from Vancouver to Banff. But throughout the days of the conference, something shifted. There was magic in the mountain air as I learned the dramaturgical superpower of process.

Process is pushing boundaries to grow, shape, carve, and mould – to help others tell the story they want to tell. To help audiences receive the story being told. To build safe spaces for play, conversation, and community. Simply put, this is what we do as dramaturgs: process-design. We advocate for the hand crafting the story, the eye bringing it to life, and the minds that it will reach. A dramaturg’s role in storytelling can be multi-faceted and take many forms, but gathering prompts us to investigate our practises and question our questions.

Together we tackled important investigations, like “How many bags of chips are really needed for a road trip?” (answer: inconclusive), and “Is there a limit to the number of dramaturgs we can fit in a single selfie?” (follow-up question: who has the longest arm?). Most importantly, we learned lessons that cannot be taught, like how bringing together a diverse group of individuals with a shared passion has meaning beyond words. The conference validated that we’re stronger together, crossing borders metaphorically and physically after pandemic years of being apart. We remember our responsibility as preservers, creators, and champions of stewardship and culture during a time of social change.

So, what does all this mean about the power of process? It is collaborative. It is unique. It gives us parameters to turn to when tackling ideas bigger than ourselves. It means that maybe we do belong, even as emerging dramaturgs, even when we can’t find the exact words to describe who we are or what we do. Whether it’s the design of a road trip, a conference, a play, a social movement – it brings us together. The power of process is that it is ours.

– Alyssa Formosa, Artistic Associate, Playwright, Dramaturg