Course Description

"Every word uttered on stage is dramaturgy"
-Peter Handke

"Dramaturg (ask me why)"
Slogan on a T-shirt at the 2003 convention of the LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas)

The question "what is a dramaturg?" yields dozens of wildly different responses. Through an examination of the art, craft, and study of dramaturgy, we will attempt to build answers for this vexing question, and, even more importantly, we will seek to discover who dramaturgs are, how they work, and what they do. In this conference, we will study the large number of things that make up the art of dramaturgy: translation and adaptation, new play development, production dramaturgy, in-depth research, literary management, season selection, and artistic collaboration, among others. We will also study established dramaturgs, their writings, and how they work in the theatre. This conference will combine theoretical and practical approaches, collaborative work and individual research. Through participation in this conference, you will acquire a "toolbox" of practical and analytical skills that can be applied in various dramaturgical modes, from criticism to production. The course focuses on three distinct perspectives that represent the dramaturg as the nexus of the academic and the practical in theatre:

  • Structural dramaturgy: studying an overview of historical backgrounds and critical theories that will facilitate a generative close reading of a play from a theatre (as opposed to literary) perspective.
  • Production dramaturgy: looking at the dramaturg's role in the collaborative process, discussing methods and strategies for historical research, offering an introduction to adaptation and translation.
  • Institutional dramaturgy: season planning, script evaluation, audience engagement, community outreach.


This conference will prepare you to work as dramaturg on departmental productions, and give you a solid foundation in how to do research and writing in the field of theatre. This conference will develop your skills in research and collaboration, teach you about the structure of American theatre production, introduce you to new plays, playwrights, and dramaturgs. This conference will introduce you to the history of the profession of dramaturgy, and where it stands today. In practice this conference will offer you skills in working as a dramaturg and thinking as a dramaturg. A dramaturgical approach will supplement all areas of theatre production, and is in every way the very definition of the liberal arts.