Katherine Profeta has given two definitions of the word research in Dramaturgy in Motion in the chapter Research. The first definition is “to search again”, or, “the action of retracing steps”(62), and the aim is to organize existing information according to already established means of understanding. That material compiled then becomes ‘research’, the noun.” The second definition is “to search to know; to search with care, method, or reflection”, and as Profit has put it, it is “research as the act of creation”(62). Following this definition, Profeta explains that “the researcher directs human awareness to new ways of looking, thereby creating something that did not previously exist.”(63) In this definition, the noun “research” is the new material that is created rater than compiled.
In the context of theatre and dramaturgy, Profeta states that research is a significant part of a dramaturg’s work, but it is not only dependent on or performed by the the dramaturg. It is a tool that all collaborators in the work may use to prompt conversation. It is “a longer-term creative process to be shared, in which the dramaturg is an active, perhaps even catalyzing participant, but not the sole responsible party.”(70) Profeta also gives examples of when a piece of research can turn into an inspiration and when it cannot. In the example of using the film Maya Deren’s Devine Horsemen as a piece of research for Geography, Profeta suggests that it may have pushed them to consider the ethical dilemmas in their work and adjust the work accordingly.(77) The research on Bruce Nauman’s Wall/Floor Positions for the piece Patton was an example of an external research that catalyzed an idea different from its source, but “which would not have been found without it”(79-80). This is an example of when research becomes inspiration. Using the research she did for How Can You…? as a reference, she introduced the concept of “translation” in research. A piece of research is inspirational only when it is able to translate into “something new or surprising”(82). When a piece of information is too close to the matter at hand, Profeta suggests that it will not inspire the work for it only offers the possibility of quotation or plagiarism.
I find the word research important because, through the text, I see it very different from what I assumed it to be. I understand now researching is not necessary finding information that feeds directly into a work, but rather using external sources to open up possibilities for the work. A piece of research can be either a deep and essential finding that may change the work greatly, or just something that introduces new ideas and provokes discussions. The goal of research, as I understand now, is to search for materials that allow us to create something new.