Amazing Students

Lukas Woodyard

Lukas Woodyard’s life revolves around theatre — specifically in the job of dramaturg. It’s taken him to London and New York City, and he’s worked on several productions at UGA. One of those shows “confirmed what I wanted to do with my life, and I have not turned back.”

Hometown:

Bonaire, GA

High School:

Veterans High School

Degree objective:

AB Theatre, English, and Comparative Literature

Expected graduation:

Spring 2019

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

Recipient of the Martin Holubar Scholarship from the Department of Theatre and Film Studies.

At UGA, all my achievements and highlights involved my activities with the theatre department. I have been highly involved since I first stepped into this department. As a freshman, I was involved in a few productions such as UGA Theatre’s “Mrs. Packard” and Thalian Blackfriars’ “Middletown” and “Good Boys and True.” I became theatre ambassador in the same year as well and began recruiting and guiding new UGA students in the theatre department. It was not until fall semester of my sophomore year that I dove into the world of dramaturgy.

Dramaturgy can be defined as the theory and practice of dramatic composition. I research the background of the play and assist with the director, designers and actors on how to make the script presentable on stage, and I also enhance audience experience by creating lobby displays, notes for the program and moderate pre-show lectures and post-show talkbacks. My first experience was when I became the leading dramaturg for Thalian Blackfriars’ production of “Eclipsed” by Danai Gurira, which just finished its run on Broadway with Lupita Nyong’o. For the dramaturgy, I looked into the First and Second Liberian War and how it affected Liberian society and how the international world viewed and helped Liberia. I lectured the actors, directors and designers on the history and culture of Liberia that I was able to research and pulled in experts to enhance their art.

Following that success, I dramaturged UGA Theatre’s show “The Long Christmas Ride Home” by Paula Vogel. This experience made me decide to pursue dramaturgy as a career. With this show, I lectured the cast and director on Paula Vogel’s work, bunraku, Kabuki, Noh theatre, Japanese printmaking art, and the history surrounding all those listed. I got Paula Vogel — who is one of the leading playwrights in American theatre — to notice and acknowledge the production. I have since dramaturged other UGA Theatre shows such as “The Last Witch” and “Animal Farm” and Thalian Blackfriar’s “And Baby Makes Seven” by Paula Vogel.

This past summer has been the most eventful and exciting time of my life. I was able to study abroad in London with the theatre department under George Contini. For six weeks, I lived in London, saw so many professional theatrical productions and worked for a theatre company. After that experience, I continued my CURO research by traveling to New York City by myself. I took the most important course of my college career in spring of 2017. It is Fran Teague’s dramaturgy course where she taught us the basics to it as well as teach us important research skills such as how to use a database and how to use a library. Our final project for the class is to do research on anything that regards to performance.

I decided to do a dramaturgical look on Paula Vogel’s new play “Indecent” and the history surrounding the play’s source, Sholem Asch’s play “The God of Vengeance.” Vogel’s work fictionalizes and dramatizes Asch’s play from its early rejections to a vice squad arresting the whole cast and crew for the crime of indecency due to the show having the first lesbian kiss on Broadway. My research looks at the familiar aspects that makes this play contemporary to modern day immigrants, especially of Asian, Latin/Hispanic and Middle Eastern descent. I submitted and presented my research at the Women’s Studies Institute’s Symposium and the spring CURO Symposium. Dr. Teague then just told me to go ahead and apply for a CURO grant so I could see the show, which was about to be on Broadway. Thanks to her, I received a CURO summer assistantship. While in New York City, I stayed there for a week, visited some friends, visited the New York Public Library’s Billy Rose theatre collection to get material, and saw Vogel’s Indecent twice! I plan to continue my research under Dr. Fran Teague and George Contini.

Currently, I am working to be an assistant director for UGA Theatre’s production “BFE” by Julia Cho, which will be directed by Dr. Farley Richmond in the spring. This show is very important to me because it is a play about an Asian-American experience, which the theatre world lacks in its portrayal today. I am also the dramaturg and assistant director for professor George Contini’s and the Graduate Acting Ensemble’s devised work that is a collaboration with guest artist Alberto Tibaji. I’m really excited about it! The show is being created by the MFA acting students, and we are using materials such as interviews and free verse poetry from queer people on UGA’s campus, Athens, Brazil and Colombia. It’s a nice cultural crossing on what it’s like to be queer in these places. The show will be presented at the end of this semester.

Perhaps my biggest project now is working with Dr. Emily Sahakian and other professors on making the theatre department more diverse and more inclusive. I am currently trying to start a new student group called the Intersectional Theatre Alliance. ITA’s mission is to create and promote theatre to people who think theatre is not accessible to them. This group is focused on women, queer people, multiculturalism and people with disabilities. It’s extremely important to have these perspectives and bodies in theatre today. I am also using this group as a recruitment tool for our programs here in the department. I want more diversity in our student body.

Current Employment:

Social media manager and content developer for UGA Theatre and the Department of Theatre and Film Studies

Family Ties to UGA:

I actually do not have any family ties to UGA. My family and I are originally from Valparaiso, Indiana.

I chose to attend UGA because…

It was the best option financially due to the HOPE Scholarship. It was also the only school I applied to in Georgia. I also really wanted to double major in theatre and English — though a triple major now — and loved how possible it was to do it at UGA. Perhaps a big selling point for me was the student theatre groups in the theatre department. Unlike my other options, there are several groups such as Next Act and Children’s Theatre Troupe. The group that I wanted to be involved with was Thalian Blackfriars. This group is one of the oldest dramatic groups in the U.S.; it started in 1893. They basically created the theatre scene in Athens and established the theatre department at UGA. Our motto is “theatre with a point.” We produce works that are relevant to now and are edgier than what you usually see on stage. I am happy to be a member of the board as the director of dramaturgy.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

Besides doing theatre, I love to read a book in between classes or hang out with my friends. I honestly do not do much outside of theatre.

When I have free time, I like…

… to sleep. I do not get enough of it due to rehearsals and constantly catching up on reading for classes. Power napping has become my favorite human invention. When I am awake, I spend time with close friends and experience the nightlife of Athens.

The craziest thing I've done is…

… probably saying the word “yes.” It’s the universal rule for improv, but for me, saying “yes” has caused me to do so many crazy things. I would not have gone to London for six weeks, went to New York City by myself to continue a research project, and I would not have started my passion for dramaturgy if I did not say “yes.” Now, I don’t just say that word to anyone, but I have said it so far to people — aka my professors — who said I could do activities like the ones I’ve mentioned. To be more specific, I think the craziest thing I have done is say “yes” to people who believed I could do it. It’s crazy to not only trust and go with what people say you can do, but it is also crazy to believe that you yourself can do those things. It’s great to see how far you can go, and I am currently just saying “yes” until I hit a wall in my life. With all that being said, I am presently learning how to say the word “no.” That is also important too.

My favorite place to study is…

I honestly love to study in my room. It’s quite near the bed where I can take a power-nap for a study break. If I am studying with others, then the ideal study area is the MLC at 2 a.m. That time is the key thing because that’s where stress intermixes with sleep deprivation. You can learn so much during that time. If you want to study in a place with a view — based on Dr. Fran Teague’s recommendation — then go the seventh floor of the library. It has a nice view of the campus.

My favorite professor is…

If I could list the entire faculty and staff of the theatre department, then I would. But my list would be Dr. Fran Teague, Dr. John Patrick Bray and professor George Contini for pushing me to do things I never imagined doing before, Dr. Marla Carlson for making me more interested in theatre history and performance studies, and Dr. Channette Romero for making me love multicultural American literature and postmodernism even more.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

I’ve mentioned her a lot, but I would have to say Paula Vogel. She is my favorite playwright. Since I said her name more than three times, will she appear?

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

Write a play. Or direct something. Maybe start writing poetry. I don’t know. I just want to do something creative and not fail at it.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… open my own theatre. I want to open my own theatre that is a combination of the National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. I want to push for more diversity in theatre, promote and produce newer and edgier works, put on classic plays and adaptions, and most importantly, make the theatre accessible to all. Seeing shows in London and New York City made me realize that theatre is still for the privileged. Theatre is an art for all to be a part of and experience.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

I am obviously really passionate about theatre. I am always working on a show. I am never not working on a show. My other passion is literature, reading it and reading the criticisms around it. When I am not at rehearsal, I am constantly reading and exploring my interests in literary criticism. I love dramatic literature, I love multicultural literature, and I love postmodernism. In pursuing this passion, I would love to get my Ph.D. in either literature or theatre. I haven’t decided because I honestly want to do both. I want to do a CURO on how in multicultural American literature — specifically works written by people of diasporic identities and immigrants — uses postmodernism.

After graduation, I plan to…

… apply to internships or apprenticeships at theatres across the world. I’m looking specifically for literary or dramaturgical work. I would love to do some freelance work for theatres as well. I might go to Japan and teach English. I don’t know yet, but there are a lot of possibilities. I’m doing whatever so I can work up to going to grad school.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… my “Legally Blonde” moment. I’m referring to the moment when Elle Woods — which is emphasized more in the musical version — saw her name on that list and felt self-fulfilled with what she was doing. My moment was dramaturging “The Long Christmas Ride Home.” That show confirmed what I wanted to do with my life, and I have not turned back. I am such a fickle person, but I am so certain that dramaturgy is what I want to do.

Published Sunday,