Oscillation has multiple definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It can be described as a flow of electricity changing periodically, a single swing from one extreme limit to another, or simply as a state of variation. In the context of Dramaturgy in Motion, oscillation is the fluctuation between two states.
Profeta describes oscillation as the constant state of a dramaturg. Firstly, it can be seen through their role descriptors. Many find the idea of the dramaturg acting as an “advocate for the audience” worrying, considering how the dramaturg could never properly represent a collective of diverse individuals, and why these individuals need an advocate in the first place (p. 16). Although this is a worrying idea, a dramaturg nonetheless must spend a considerable amount of time trying to collect the perceptions and thoughts of imaginary audience members. Both the acts of genuinely advocating for an audience and ignoring a potential audience are impossible, and subsequently a dramaturg finds them-self in a state of oscillation. Secondly, oscillation can also be seen through their level of involvement. Profeta mentions the terms “inside eye” and “outside eye” multiple times (p. 16). The “inside eye” can be seen a state of complete immersion and participation in an experience, whereas the “outside eye” can be seen as a form of detachment. A dramaturg spends a considerable time switching from an “inside eye” to an “outside eye”, and vice versa. The dramaturg can’t only use an “outside eye” as they would only see a closed door. They must “cross from the outside to inside” in order to perceive, and subsequently, they remain in a state of oscillation (p. 16). Lastly, if a dramaturg does not find meaningful, productive connection with other members of the creative staff, they may be out of a job. However if a set designer does not have a meaningful connection with members of the creative staff, it does not matter as a set designer is still needed, regardless of the connection they have with the staff. Therefore, a dramaturg also finds them-self oscillating between their personal and professional life. The examples mentioned above are a few of many.
I find it intriguing that there are no set-in-stone definitions or role descriptors for a dramaturg. Initially I found it extremely irritating. I would stumble upon many paradoxes while trying to map out the definition of a dramaturg. Gould stated that “the dramaturg’s role has not yet fully evolved in the course of theatre history, and for that we need not assert it a premature stability; we should let evolution do its work” (p. 13). Although I agreed with the statement initially, while reading more I came to an understanding that perhaps the very definition of a dramaturg lies in the realm of their flexibility and constant states of oscillation. I had never heard of such an occupation, and I developed an appreciation for it as I continued the reading. The profession of a dramaturg sounds absolutely fascinating."Definiton of Oscillation." Merriam-Webster 2018. Accessed 8 Jan 2018.
The crazy thing about this is that it’s the dramaturg’s job to find out what the dramaturg’s job should be on each creative production. Why? Because, thankfully, art isn’t standardized so that it becomes a production assembly line. While there are clear “creative” roles, often in collaboration (as you learned in the camps) you have to “deskill” and “reskill” depending on how to achieve some of the goals you’re set out for yourself. A dramaturg has to have that ability to change and change again to understand how to address certain gaps. Often they become a temporary expert because they go out an learn how to convey criticism, encouragement or the proper questions to allow their artist collaborators a fresh perspective. So yes, you are absolutely right, the dramaturgy has to keep moving in order to keep shifting perspectives and look at work with fresh eyes.