For this month’s featured scholar, we caught up with last year’s Krause Scholarship winner, Laura Farrell-Wortman, who recently finished her dissertation and is transitioning to a new home in sunny Arizona!
What research activities have you pursued as part of your scholarship?
The Krause fellowship was an integral source of support for my April 2016 research trip to Dublin and Galway. This trip was particularly illuminating, as I was pursuing two research projects – my primary dissertation research on theatre and the financial crisis, and a secondary project on Grace Gifford Plunkett’s post-1916 public persona. I arrived in Dublin just a few weeks after the 1916 centenary, which was a fascinating time to explore the performance of memorialization, to say the least! While there I conducted several interviews with contemporary theatre artists, attended loads of performances (ANU Productions’ Sunder was a highlight) and conducted archival research.
Did your research take any interesting twists and turns?
2016 was a bit of a whirlwind, as, in addition to the Krause, I was lucky enough to have a full-time dissertation fellowship from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as to be granted the New Scholar Awards from the Irish Society for Theatre Research and the International Federation for Theatre Research. The generosity of these institutions and organizations allowed me to spend the year writing, researching and traveling to Ireland, Greece, and Sweden. As my dissertation considered theatrical responses to the 2008 financial crisis, it was invaluable to be able to place my work into a global context.
What kind of community engagement and theatrical activities have you pursued lately?
My practical theatre background is strongest in new play development. During my final year at UW-Madison, I founded a drop-in dramaturgical service for students called Open Door Script Consulting. Once a week, I would be available to provide new play development and dramaturgy services to student playwrights, free of charge. It was a great success, both in terms of providing UW students with a necessary form of playwriting support and in terms of broadening my own play development skills. I have often found that student playwrights need editorial support when developing their works, but either don’t have that kind of support or don’t know how to go about accessing it. The drop-in model allowed students to access a dramaturge for help without the need for a long-term play development partnership.
What are your plans for the future?
I finished my PhD and graduated from UW-Madison earlier this month. In June, I will be relocating to Tucson, Arizona to start my new role as Admissions Counselor with the University of Arizona. I am still working as a freelance dramaturge and script consultant, and I will be working on developing my dissertation into a book manuscript.