Dramafronten: restoring the story - and the playwright telling it

11-12 2011


Dramafronten, a new Danish initiative aims to put the story back on centre stage. The launch took place Saturday, November 26 @ Pumpehuset, Copenhagen showcasing eight playwrights, seven 15-minute pieces, and just one central word: ’FRONT’. 

From the launch of Dramafronten

- Interview with Rhea Leman and Tomas Lagermand Lundme


Being a playwright is a lonely job. Writing for months on end just to see your carefully plotted script being torn apart (and hopefully put back together again) during an all-too-hectic trial period with the premiere date always just around the corner.

Can this be done differently? Wouldn’t it be possible for the playwright, the stage director, the actors and the set designer to join forces at an earlier stage?  Wouldn’t that give us better scripts, better playwrights, better audiences perhaps?


Emphasizing the role of the text

That’s what playwrights Rhea Leman and Tomas Lagermand Lundme think  and that’s what they want to make possible through DRAMAFRONTEN, a network established between all kinds of professional theatre people. The purpose of the network is to revitalize the way, theatre is being made by emphasizing the role of the text and the story and the importance of developing the way stories are told on stage.
One way of doing this is by establishing new ways for playwrights to meet with the stage directors, the actors and the rest of the crew involved in making the story come alive.


Rhea Leman and Tomas Lagermand Lundme

“As a playwright, most of the time you don’t meet the other people involved in staging the play until the first day of rehersal. And that’s almost never the right time to make major changes in the script – time’s too short and the premiere date is coming up,” says Rhea Leman.
“We want to be able to talk about the story and to get feedback in an informal way without the pressure of the production, the posters, the press releases and the premiere date. Sometimes the playwright wants to hear the text read aloud or to engage in a dialogue about the story with the performers and that can be done through this network.”

What do I really want to write?
“It’s not about devising or improvisation,” says Rhea Leman. “It’s all about restoring the importance of the playwright’s work. The textual base of the play. Actually, it’s a bit old-fashioned.”

“Well, it’s about allowing the playwright to ask himself (or herself): “What do I really want to write?,” Tomas Lagermand Lundme adds.
“That question has a tendency to get lost in contemporary productions where the theatre orders something specific and where the playwright always writes against the clock. As a playwright, you sometimes regret that you never have the possibility to just throw your script in the bin, because the theatre has already had the posters made and the invitations to premiere have already been send out. Sometimes you have this feeling that you just missed the bull’s eye. That if you had had more time or more qualified feedback, the play would have turned out better.”

RL: “We are quite inspired by the way the film industry is doing things. They spend a lot of time developing the screen plays.  Of course making a film is a totally different thing. Having rehearsals is of course an asset in theatre, and the possibility of making small changes is essential. But it sometimes gets out of hand and the essence of it all gets lost. And then the actors don’t see that thing that made the playwright want to write the play in the first place. And that’s very important and that’s exactly what we want to restore.”


Three legs to stand on
“But the purpose of Dramafronten is not just to develop and improve the stories we write. That’s just one of the three legs, Dramafronten stands on. The second is the need to develop our future audiences as well. Young people ages 13-20 should be inspired to tell their own stories and to have a relation to the theater as an institution. We have this project coming up, “HUSDRAMATIKER”, where three playwrights will be connected to three different high schools in three different parts of Denmark from December 2011 to May 2012. During a four month period the playwright will introduce the young people to the process of writing drama and guide them towards creating their own pieces inspired by their own stories.

Finally, the third leg is that all of us working with theatre must join forces in maintaining that theatre has a special place in the 21. century. Because it really has. Stories told on stage represent a certain and indispensable way of understanding our society and ourselves,”  says Rhea Leman.


All of Dramafronten’s events are free of charge.