Because I had limited time, and I knew that Cristina and the actors would be reading the play backwards and forwards, I decided to focus my dramaturgical efforts on providing history and background for them. Basically, I wanted to give them all kinds of extra "ingredients" that they could mix into their performances however they wanted.
I got really into it. Sacher-Masoch and his wife Wanda (yes, pronounced "Vanda") were some interesting folks, let's just say that. I delved into some of the theories about masochism, which is still very poorly understood. I also did a little art historical research (Sacher-Masoch was obsessed with paintings of women in fur), and I followed up the references to Goethe, which permeate both Sacher-Masoch's novel and Ives' play.
When I was done I delivered 50 pages of rough dramaturgical notes and my copy of Faust to Cristina, telling her that it needed to be on Thomas's bookshelf in the show (you can see it there, on the bottom) - not only because both Severin and Thomas make Faustian bargains, but also because Thomas is a snob and he's going to make sure that all those "stupid actresses" know that he can read Faust and Venus in Furs in the original, thank you very much.
Then came the fun part: I went to the show last Friday and got to see what Cristina, Jordan, and Deanna had done with all my notes.
What I got was a surprise! When I read Ives' play as a dramaturge, I was doing it with my "Germanist" lenses on - and, well, I think it's fair to say that there's not normally much occasion to look for humor in German literature. When I came to the performance as an audience member, though, I found myself at a play that was not only smart and full of all sorts of clever allusions, but also really, really, really funny. My husband and I had big grins on our faces the whole time! It was a great evening and a wonderful reward for all my hard work.
I hope you enjoy the show as much as I did!
P.S. When you come to the show, you can read some of what I learned in the dramaturgical insert that's included in everyone's program. I hope you find it interesting! And, for those who perhaps have a masochistic streak, Cristina's posted my full 50 pages of notes here for you to take a look through.