Ask Me About: What a dramaturg can do

10247217_10153139455092445_5224759453873456684_n“Remarks like that were embedded in my head and took up precious space that should have been occupied with other things but wasn’t.” – Ray Midge, The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

One of the things I enjoy about dramaturgy (and writing!) is becoming a temporary expert on all kinds of unexpected topics. And once I learn those things, I want to share them! “Ask Me About” is a continuing series of posts about trivia and knowledge I pick up in the course of rehearsals and research.


This is a slightly different (and much more self-aggrandizing, #sorrynotsorry) installment in Ask Me About. Rather than being about facts! and knowledge! that I picked up as a dramaturg, it’s about actions! and events! and stuff! that I did as a dramaturg as part of the production process.

Little Bee at Book-It closed back on May 17, but the process of winding it down took a little bit longer than that. Now that everything’s finished, I thought I’d sit down and make a list of some of the things I did. (Quantifying your achievements looks good on resumes, I am told.) Plus, I wanted to point my readers towards some of the amazing people I worked with and shine a light on their work.

So what did I do during Little Bee? Continue reading

Ask Me About: The Draft

“Remarks like that were embedded in my head and took up precious space that should have been occupied with other things but wasn’t.” – Ray Midge, The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

One of the things I enjoy about dramaturgy (and writing!) is becoming a temporary expert on all kinds of unexpected topics. And once I learn those things, I want to share them! “Ask Me About” is a continuing series of posts about trivia and knowledge I pick up in the course of rehearsals and research.


The actors asked: About the draft in 1969.

More accurately, we were trying to figure out what a young man in 1970 — particularly a military history buff, like Ray Midge — might think about the draft. What were the odds he might get conscripted?

Continue reading

Ask Me About: How do you pronounce Mexico?

“Remarks like that were embedded in my head and took up precious space that should have been occupied with other things but wasn’t.” – Ray Midge, The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

One of the things I enjoy about dramaturgy (and writing!) is becoming a temporary expert on all kinds of unexpected topics. And once I learn those things, I want to share them! “Ask Me About” is a continuing series of posts about trivia and knowledge I pick up in the course of rehearsals and research.


The actor asked: “I know ‘Mexico’ used to be pronounced ‘Meshiko.’ Can you find out anything about when and why that changed?”

¡Claro que sí!

The Nahuatl (Aztec) name Mēxihco pronounced “meSHEE’ko” (/meːˈʃiʔko/). This was transliterated by Spanish explorers as “Mexico” — in Medieval Spanish, the letter “x” represented the “sh” sound.

Aztec Ictapa alphabet.

By the end of the 15th century, the letters “j” and “x” were both used to represent the “zh” sound in Spanish (like the “g” in “genre” or the “si” in “vision”). However, in the 16th century, the usage evolved so that “j” and “x” represented the sound “ch” as in “loch”. (The voiceless velar fricative, if you’re fancy: [x].) So the name of the country was spelled both “Mexico” and “Mejico.”

In the 1700s, the Real Academia Español established that “j” should represent the “ch/[x]” sound, and “x” should represent the “ks” sound (explicar, extraño). Due to the multiple spellings of Mexico/Mejico and other place names (Texas/Tejas, Oaxaca/Oajaca), the letter “x” continued and continues to be used to represent the “ch/[x]” sound in some words in Mexico, even though “x” in Spanish words should be pronounced “ks.”

So the progression went:

meSHEEko
Mezhiko
Mehhiko

The Real Academia Español has the whole evolution of the letter “x” — it’s written in Spanish, but Google Translate will do an okay job translating to English.

Desturnell Mexico.tif