It’s clear that creating a historical movie like Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” takes a lot of research, but did you know that plays based on historical events also require an extensive amount of investigation? In fact, they have a person solely dedicated to researching the historical events for the cast, called a “dramaturg.” The Ohio University School of Theater worked with their own dramaturgs while preparing for the production of “Assassins,” a musical by Steven Sondheim.
lorraine wochna, Subject Librarian for Film, Theatre, English and African American Studies, is one of the dramaturgs for the musical “Assassins” performed at Ohio University. She is collaborating with Sara Swartout, Graduate Playwrighting student. “Assassins” is a musical that delves into the minds of 10 men and women who have assassinated, or attempted to assassinate, Presidents of the United States.
As dramaturgs, lorraine & Sara researched each assassin and the eras from which they came. This research was given to the cast to help them become familiar with their characters and to further understand what drove each person to attempt an assassination.
Sara and lorraine used many library resources while researching for the musical, including:
- Books found through the ALICE catalog.
- Alden Library’s collection of historical newspapers.
- A video collection resource called VAST: Academic Video Online provided to Ohio University faculty, students and staff. For those interested in learning more, a playlist of videos about each assassin is available.
- Co-worker, Nathan Wolfe, who helped with visuals and researching history.
Lorraine also created Pinterest boards (with Nate) about each assassin and each assassin’s era as an additional source of information for anyone wanting to explore the topic further.
“Assassins” will take place at 8 p.m. in the Forum Theater from Nov. 28 – Dec. 8. Don’t forget, because of Arts for Ohio all students get in for FREE!
For more information about the play, the characters and the research visit the dramaturg’s official blog.