Dramaturgy is one of the most confusing and misunderstood areas of theatre. Its roots lie in Ancient Greece, yet it was not until the 1760s in Germany did theatre have its first working dramaturg. Bertolt Brecht brought dramaturgy into the 20th century by employing multiple dramaturgs on his works in the 1920s and 30s, yet dramaturgy did not emerge in the American theatre until the 1970s, and with a very different focus.
The role of a dramaturg differs by era, place, and production. Does dramaturgy involve playwriting or script editing? Does a dramaturg assist new playwrights, research historical works, or do both? Is a dramaturg a literary manager, literary consultant, or neither? Is a dramaturg a theatre critic or translator of foreign plays? What is a production dramaturg and how does this differ from other types of dramaturgs? Is a dramaturg a second director or a mediator between the director and the cast? Does dramaturgy occur in the planning, development or production phase of the theatre-making process? Can a dramaturg assist with a devised theatre piece that does not have a script?
Is it dramaturg or dramaturge? Is it a soft or hard ‘g’? Is dramaturgy a noun or verb? Read on and you will discover dramaturgy is one of the most exciting areas of theatre and the lack of clarity around what a dramaturg does, is actually part of its beauty. – Justin Cash
Excellent article from the Educational Theatre Association detailing a dramaturg’s tasks.
Useful list of duties for a dramaturg in a university theatre department.
Excellent series of academic articles by dramaturgs in the peer-reviewed journal Sound Stage Screen discussing the multi-faceted and ever-changing nature of the role of the dramaturg in contemporary theatre.
Explanation of the difference between new play dramaturgy and production dramaturgy in the theatre.
A dramaturge is usually a writer, critic, or scholar who advises a theatre on literary points, as well as editing classic texts and perhaps translating foreign plays.
Useful article about the different facets of the job, written by an experienced dramaturg.
Set of practical examples of how a dramaturg can assist various theatre makers including writers, directors and producers.
Interview with a young dramaturg discussing career pathways and daily duties.
Checklist of the modern dramaturg’s duties plus a historical overview of the role.
…few theatrical terms are more fluidly evocative or problematic than “dramaturgy.” The range of possible definitions of the term is practically as broad as the number of its practitioners is great…
Bruce Barton | Navigating Turbulence: The Dramaturg in Physical Theatre
Interview with a dramaturg employed by Disney Theatrical on daily tasks with a huge company.
University student’s perspectives on the role of the dramaturg.
Excellent article about the nature of dramaturgy in Polish theatre today, a place where its dictionary definition is “playwright”.
Excellent introduction to The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy offering an account of historical beginnings in the field, the use of the word in our modern vernacular, and its multiple meanings in contemporary theatre.
One of the fundamental characteristics of what we today call “new dramaturgy” is precisely the choice of a process-oriented method of working; the meaning, the intentions, the form and the substance of a play arise during the working process.
Marianne Van Kerkhoven | On Dramaturgy
Article highlighting the common thread in all dramaturgical work: research.
The role of the theatre dramaturg from an industry and employment perspective, including the necessary skills for this career path.
Now archived set of tasks for a dramaturg. Written some time ago, but still a useful list.
Article discussing the necessary skills for a theatre dramaturg.
Excellent article interviewing several Australian dramaturgs about their job and duties they perform on a daily basis.
Article about the mysterious role of the dramaturg in contemporary theatre, with practical advice about the job and the various duties it may entail.
Thus, originally, dramatourgos simply meant someone who was able to arrange various dramatic actions in a meaningful and comprehensive order. To this day, in many modern languages, including French, Spanish, and Polish, the word dramaturg also can mean playwright, adding to the confusion as the two roles continue to be conflated.
The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy | Magda Romanska (Ed.)
Concise summary of the various duties commonly undertaken by a dramaturg.
Academic article about the complex place of the dramaturg in contemporary theatre and dance-theatre.
Article highlighting the dramaturg as a potential career path for university theatre majors.
Useful checklist of the expectations of the production dramaturg and tasks from a university theatre department. Good starting point for students.
Production dramaturges tend to work on plays that have been previously produced, often, but not always, historical plays or plays set in a time or place less than familiar to those working on it.…In new play dramaturgy, a dramaturge’s role is to help a playwright or group of theatre creators identify and address the gaps between what they want their play to communicate to an audience and what the play actually communicates.
Andrea Romaldi | Playwriting Program Director | National Theatre School of Canada
Academic feature about The Dramaturgies Project established in Melbourne back in 2001. Some fascinating viewpoints about the different roles of the dramaturg over the years in different parts of the world – from midwife to curator and everything in between.
Interview with two working young dramaturgs. Includes how the dramaturg can assist with less traditional devised or physical theatre pieces, plus translations etc.
Practical advice on how actors can properly utilise the skills of the dramaturg in productions.