Julia Bumke is a new work dramaturg and nonprofit strategist who is passionate about fostering composers, librettists, and playwrights at all stages of their careers. She collaborates with opera and theater artists to craft singular pieces, bringing them back to their founding intention for their projects as a combination of editor, advocate, and trusted confidante. Her recent and upcoming work includes premieres and workshops with Opera Philadelphia, Curtis Institute of Music, PlayPenn, Oberlin Conservatory, PEAK Performances at Montclair State University, Music-Theatre Group, the American Repertory Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, among others.
Julia also works with clients as a nonprofit strategist, with projects in New York and Philadelphia. She is currently the Development Director for Sō Percussion, an internationally-acclaimed new music ensemble based in Brooklyn. Julia’s recent clients include BalletX, a contemporary ballet company specializing in world premieres; Emma’s Torch, which empowers refugees through culinary education; and Directors Gathering, a service organization for theater directors. She has held positions in development and marketing at The Wilma Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the American Repertory Theater.
Julia received her A.B. from Princeton, and her M.F.A. in Dramaturgy from A.R.T.’s Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard. Her musical background stems from a degree in French horn performance from The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division.
When she’s not creating new work, Julia can usually be found upside down. She teaches yoga and meditation classes at Sanctuary Yoga and Mindfulness, an alignment-driven studio in Philadelphia, where she completed her RYT-200 training with with Kilkenny Tremblay and Andrea Barberio.
I believe in bringing creative artists back to their original intention for a piece: why this project now, and what sparked this curiosity in the first place? As a creator prepares for a world premiere, any number of financial and artistic decisions can compromise this founding impetus. By keeping their intention at the forefront of our conversations, I help artists create rigorous projects that are true to their core reason for being, leading to pieces that are as thorough as they are inventive.
I love working on projects that defy genres and push against form constraints to make something new. I’ve dramaturged everything from an opera with six trumpets, an eight-man chorus, and a tenor who plays both a lighthouse-keeper and the wife who haunts him; to a Yiddish-Cuban opera-musical-drama mash-up; to a project where the lead mezzo-soprano uses AutoTune and a vocoder to explore where humans end and robots begin. I’ve worked in museum galleries, cramped windowless studios, outdoor theaters, and 1,000-seat proscenium opera halls alike. Through them all, I find new work dramaturgy exhilarating because of its sheer lack of a road map. It lets me connect deeply with artists at their most vulnerable moments of creation, getting to the heart of each project and teasing out its singular path to success.