Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy

Knowing Romulus Linney – An Education in Itself
January 18, 2011, 11:58 pm
Filed under: ScriptForward! Enewsletter | Tags: , , ,

Last February, this article appeared in Hamilton Dramaturgy’s ScriptForward! #20 Special Issue my e-newsletter for professional scriptwriters. It includes what I call an “Ode to Rom”, who taught me everything I know about being a dramaturg. Given our loss of this great man on January 15th, I thought it was appropriate to reprint the article here.

Knowing Romulus Linney – An Education in Itself

There are two types of theatre practitioners in this country.

Those who have been trained by (or worked with) Romulus Linney, and those who haven’t.

I am lucky enough to belong to the former category. He taught me everything I know about being a dramaturg, which, summed up in three words, is this: Respect the playwright.

With Rom, what you saw was what you got. What he saw from within his own eye, mind and heart, was what he said with his mouth when he communicated with you.

He brooked no dissembling, no power plays and no foolishness. Reason ruled.

He was rabidly protective of the playwright. I learned this in our first administrative meeting when I signed on to be a dramaturgy MFA student at Columbia, where he was head of the playwrighting program. He made the dramaturgs in training see immediately and continually that if we were to work with playwrights, we were to place them at the center of the process.

No one was to change a word in production when the playwright was still alive and  in the rehearsal room. He didn’t ever have to reprimand me because I learned my lesson at that first meeting, and I have practiced this principle to the present day. It has served me well all these years.

Now this not a memorial. Romulus isn’t dead.  He’s just as vital now as he was then – prolific and  well-honored.

To all the others who haven’t had the pleasure of being taught by him, I say – I’m sorry. You’ve missed something terrific. And to all who have a chance to meet him, or work with him in the future —  run, don’t walk, to that occasion.

Thank you, Rom. All these years later, your words still ring true.