A talented crew of 11 SUNY Oswego theatre students shared in a total of six awards earlier this year in the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 2 Conference.

“It shows the outstanding caliber of the students that we have at Oswego,” said Toby Malone, a professor in Oswego’s theatre department and the dramaturgy coordinator for the local KCACTF region. “They are hardworking, dedicated and passionate about the work that they have.”

In the best showing for the school in recent memory, Oswego students Kuvar Bhatnagar, Emily Foreman, Abby Hines, Lorenne Huaman, Alexis Miller, Rachel Monson, Maria Przepiora, Hualbin Ramirez, Ryan Ricketts, Edward Salazar and Sabrina Taylor all received recognition for their work as dramaturgs on the school’s October performances of the play “Elsewhere.” 

Dramaturgy is the practice of writing and staging a play, doing research and gathering context that is meant to help the cast, crew and audience all better understand the world that a story exists in.

“It’s a very silent kind of relationship, in that you should never know that a dramaturg was on a production,” said Bhatnagar, who also won an individual award for his dramaturgy work on the one-act piece “The Vivian Play.” “But you could notice it if you see the exact same play with and without it.”

“Dramaturgy is a part of literally every single part in theater,” said Przepiora, whose work during the KCACTF’s Stage Directors and Choreographers Directing Initiative earned runner-up honors during the festival. “From designers, to actors, to directors, dramaturgy is a huge part of it.”

Besides the play’s dramaturgy hub page, the dramaturgy team also won an award for the lobby display they put up outside the theater.

“We kind of wanted to pull out pieces of the show,” said Przepiora. “Make it as if the lobby display is the show is bleeding out into the hallway.”

“It was a very minimal lobby display,” said Miller, a recent graduate of Oswego who also won an individual award, an honorable mention for her work as stage manager on “Elsewhere.” “It didn’t need to be super extravagant for the show, but I thought that it was neat.”

The dramaturgs credited Malone or both their interest and their success in the field of dramaturgy. 

“I got into dramaturgy because of Toby Malone. I just took a 110 class with him, and then he just let me into one of his advanced classes and I just fell in love with it,” said Bhatnagar. “I can honestly say he’s really kind of changed my college career with all of it.” 

“We wouldn’t be here without our professor, Toby Malone,” said Przepiora. “He’s just the most incredible professor I’ve ever had, and he brought dramaturgy really to SUNY Oswego in the first place, and made it what it is today.”

Malone, who began teaching at SUNY Oswego in 2017, has spearheaded the school’s dramaturgy efforts, both through the dedicated course, THT 334, and through the dramaturgy hubs that he has supervised for the theater program’s various plays. 

“I help encourage them and inspire them, but the work that they’re being awarded for is theirs,” said Malone. “They are the ones who put it into action.”

Malone and the Oswego dramaturgs viewed their success not only as an indication of the success of the college’s burgeoning theater and dramaturgy programs, but also as an indication of dramaturgy’s future as a central facet of theater and its emergence as a profitable career path for those interested in the field. 

“After ‘Elsewhere’ and KCACTF and all, I’m glad to see that a lot of people are getting more into dramaturgy,” said Bhatnagar. “It’s just becoming a much more standard practice in theater and I’m just happy about it.” 

“I’m very proud of the work that’s being done, and I feel as though we’re generating professional dramaturgs out of this program,” said Malone. “People who could go out there, and work in the industry and find their careers."

-- Written by Collin Knapp of the Class of 2023