It’s been quite a year for the 2012 winners of the Ottawa Theatre Challenge. Since 411 Dramaturgy was awarded the coveted Rubber Chicken award as champions, they’ve been busy making a mark in Ottawa’s theatre scene.
Their show is Hip Hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos. It showed last June at the Ottawa Fringe Theatre Festival and was received positively, says Melanie Karin, artistic director for 411 Dramaturgy. The show recently wrapped up a two-week run at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. It tells the stories of Shakespeare by remixing them with songs from popular rap artists like Kanye West and Jay-Z.
The Ottawa theatre scene is taking notice of 411 Dramaturgy, says Al Connors, a member of Ottawa’s Company of Fools. The Fools largely produce Shakespeare-inspired performances and Connors says it was fantastic to see 411 Dramaturgy remix the Bard with popular hip-hop.
“They’re always looking for a way to get engaged with other theatre companies,” he adds. “They’ve definitely made it known that they are here to do some great work.”
411 Dramaturgy is different from other theatre companies in Ottawa. Dramaturgy itself is a collaborative script and production development process.
“It’s essentially just making a show better based on knowledge and research,” says Karin.
Karin works directly with local playwrights to help them get their scripts ready for performance. One of those playwrights is David Whiteman.
He has been working with 411 Dramaturgy for about a year on his play, The Lights of Shangri-La.
The input from Karin, 26, is particularly valuable to Whiteman, who is in his 50s, he says.
An Ottawa theatre company will produce his play in 2014.
411 Dramaturgy is also active in developing youth theatre, says Karin. She worked as a playwright and dramaturgy mentor at Ottawa’s Youth Infringement Festival last year and says she plans on doing the same this year.
In the near future, 411 Dramaturgy wants to tour Hip Hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos around local high schools, says Karin.
“It’s kind of a tough sell at the moment because, as it stands, we don’t really have a censored version,” she says. “There’s a lot of swearing.”