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Dramaturgy

A dramaturge or dramaturg is a theatrical adviser who assists with the production of plays. The role of a dramaturge is often quite complex and varied, with different theatres using their dramaturges in different wants. Someone who wants to become a dramaturge generally has a wide variety of interests ranging from history to marketing, and he or she should generally be prepared for an often demanding and grueling job. This profession is quite ancient, and the word dramaturge actually betrays these ancient roots, as it is derived from the Ancient Greek dramatourgia, or play worker. Many historians of the theatre credit 18th century German theatre with the invention of the modern dramaturge, and most major theatres around the world have at least one dramaturge on staff. One of the major roles of the dramaturge is to ensure the quality of a theatre's productions. To this end, the dramaturge often participates in hiring decisions when actors, directors, and technical staff are under consideration. A dramaturge also performs a great deal of historical research, ensuring, for example, that characters in a 13th century drama are dressed properly, or that the music in a 19th century French farce is appropriate. In many cases, a dramaturge also has an artistic eye, and he or she may help with set decoration and costuming, offering advice and opinions, although he or she will not be directly involved. Dramaturges often work closely with artistic directors to bring their visions to life, and they often have intimate relationships with stage managers and other technical staff who have the ability to accomplish a range of tasks, from finding a live elephant to calming a recalcitrant soprano. Many dramaturges also work with playwrights, adapting their work for various venues, and some also work as translators. When a theatre needs to make substantial cuts or changes to a play, the dramaturge is often responsible for accomplishing this, ensuring that the spirit of the play is kept intact while the content is pruned. It is common for a dramaturge to be very knowledgeable about the history of plays and the theatre, and some like to focus on a particular area of interest, such as Elizabethan plays or classic American musicals. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-dramaturge.html
Dramaturgy involves all aspects of the theatre. It is a study of the wide and various ingredients that define what the theatre is; a kind of astronomical view of all the parts in relation to each other. Regarding a play in development, this study can be applied to a new draft of a script. Together the playwright and the dramaturg might make an inquiry into the workings of the drama, examining how characters relate to each other, what they reveal; when, where, and why. The form a play takes is part of the dramaturgical domain; its design, language and structure. Genre, style and performance are part of this make up. In short: the entire world of a play is its dramaturgy. Identifying the individual parts is dramaturgy at work. Getting a play through to production- to opening night- is the process of dramaturgy, in other words, the realization of the theatrical composition. At the National Arts Centre, the overall responsibilities of the dramaturg include: commissioning playwrights; working with writers from early inception of a play through to production; running play development programmes; workshopping scripts with actors, designers and composers; researching

different editions of texts; editing scripts; choosing material for future seasons; organizing ideas; keeping informed about possible translation projects; travelling to see the work of producing companies and individual artists; staying apprised of what theatre artists are working on across the country; keeping current with writing, performance and design styles internationally; planning the seasons with the Artistic Director; and, perhaps most importantly, reading plays. Identifying the individual aspects of the job is an essential part of how the overall decisions are made regarding the development and presentation of work in English Theatre at the NAC. Plays are selected, directors are hired, actors are cast, designers are chosen, partnerships are forged. This is the step by step method of making a season. It is guided by a broad scope and the ongoing pursuit of what, why, where and how theatre is made worldwide. All of these considerations pertain to how we programmme a season. It is the process of bringing together the theatre art and the audience. The outcome is what determines our identity as a national organization. It is a reciprocal responsibility. The job of the dramaturg is to keep in balance a chicken-and-egg relationship between the leadership role of breaking new ground in the theatre, upholding tradition, and responding to the inventiveness and imagination of the extraordinary theatre artists working around the country. In a national institution, the role of the dramaturg is about keeping a close eye on the overall representation of theatre art both international and national - that forms the artistic and Canadian identity of the NAC http://nac-cna.ca/en/englishtheatre/development/dramaturgy

The Production Dramaturg This is the most familiar role for a Theatre Dramaturg. If a production team choose to mount a preexisting play script, whether a translation of a foreign text or a classic English language piece, they can employ a Production Dramaturg to become responsible for the Dramaturgy of the text. Put simply, the main role of a Dramaturg is to become the playwrights representative in the production. Thats to say, it is the job of the Dramaturg to know as much about the play, its language and the context surrounding its creation as the original playwright did. After exhaustive research, and having undertaken a full literary breakdown of the text, the Dramaturg provides the production team with expert feedback on the creation and world of the play script; a valuable resource from which they can draw as much or as little as they like. And rather than simply presenting their research in a large book (although a central bible is generally compiled as part of the process), the Dramaturg is present from inception right through to the end of rehearsals, becoming a truly collaborative part of the team. For example, if there is a question that an actor or director has about the world of the play or a specific line of dialogue, the Dramaturg should be able to answer it with the same authority as the playwright and if they dont know the answer then and there, they will track it down and present it as swiftly as it can be found. My own personal experience of working as a Production Dramaturg is that the process can be extremely creative far more so than it looks on paper. My presence in rehearsals and meetings has sparked new ideas, inspired design choices and influenced the delivery of dialogue. It can be very liberating for the directors, the designers and the actors not to have the weight of the play texts

Dramaturgy on their shoulders. They can also be assured that, by giving the responsibility of it over to one central figure, theyre all receiving and working with the exact same information as each other. Beyond this, a Dramaturg is often employed to make a written and annotated record of the production process, from start to finish ensuring that there is a constant reference point to decisions made earlier on in the process (including noting the blocking in rehearsal). This information is also useful for outreach activities and programme notes, as well as for future directors and production teams. It really is a wide ranging job. The Arts Council in England now recognises, and in some cases encourages, the use of Dramaturgs as part of a theatre production. If you would like to discuss building in Grants for the Arts funding for the use of a Dramaturg for your show, please e-mail me by clicking here or by using the details above. The Dramaturge in New Writing. In recent years, Dramaturges have begun to become more and more associated with new writing. Indeed, this was a big part of my training at Bretton Hall and I have spent a lot of time as a script reader and literary critic in my career so far. Part of what the dramaturge does when working on an established text includes the detailed deconstruction and analysis of the play script. Only by taking the script apart piece by piece and contrasting it with research on the writer, the context and the background of the play, can the dramaturge deliver a full and exhaustive view of the Dramaturgy behind the text itself. These skills and abilities can easily be reversed so that, instead of working out what a long-dead writer may have intended for their work, a dramaturge can be employed in helping a modern writer to develop their own, brand new Dramaturgy. In such cases, the dramaturge is there help a writer with the process of writing their play. The dramaturge becomes a facilitator; helping the writer to develop and distil their thoughts and ideas, providing feedback, researching contexts and language, and being a professional sounding board so that the writer gets exactly what theyre looking for from their script. In my experience, it is a hugely rewarding and liberating journey for both the writer and the dramaturge. Indeed, this is one of my very, very favourite jobs! It involves a clear and constructive relationship between the two parties. The dramaturge is there to support and help the writer, not to write the play for them. It is an active collaboration between two professionals but the writer is, ultimately, in charge of their own work. Think of it like this; a writer has a set of great ideas and they pull them together to create a script. The resulting play, while containing some good work, ends up being unwieldy, bloated and unfocused. The writer, or an agent to the writer (a sponsoring theatre, for example) can then employ a

Dramaturge to aid them in refining the text, helping the writer to clarify their vision, neaten up ideas and present a leaner and healthier script as a result. In some cases, a Dramaturge working on a piece of new writing alongside a playwright is then employed as the Production Dramaturge. The Dramaturge then becomes the modern writers representative within the production. Tim Austin (Professional Freelance Dramaturge)

http://dramaturgtim.wordpress.com/about/

The Process of Dramaturgy: A Handbook, and: The Art of Active Dramaturgy: Transforming Critical Thought into Dramatic Action
By Amanda Giguere