Dramaturgy – Dramaturg – Dramaturging : Zitat des Monats

“The term ‘dramaturgy’ can be very widely applied and though our focus is on theatre practice we have (…) since extended our discussion of dramaturgy in relation to downs, cross art-form work, new media and architecture.


Though the words are linked, dramaturgy can be separated from the ‘dramaturg’: while the term ‘dramaturgy’ applies to the general composition of the work, the ‘dramaturg’ is a specific, professional role.

The ‘dramaturgy’ of the play or performance could also be described as its ‘composition’, ‘structure’ or ‘fabric’. Me and the term ‘dramaturgy’ is used to describe an activity – ‘doing dramaturgy’, or even, in Lynn Thomson’s North American variation, ‘dramaturging’ (Thomson 2006:4) — this activity concerns an engagement with the work’s composition. ‘Doing dramaturgy’ usually implies a discussion of compositional strategies and effects; for instance, those students undertaking non-vocational courses in ‘dramaturgy’ are likely to be engaged in some form of performance analyses. The world ‘Dramaturging’, ‘shaping the dramaturgy’ or ‘dramaturgical work’ may all imply an engagement with the actual practical process of structuring the work, combined with the reflective analyses that companies such a process. Peter Reder suggests that ‘dramaturgy temporalizes events, the process that leads to a structure that orders sense and bonus enables encoding/decoding of meaning, yet importantly, he stresses that the artwork’s meaning does not precede this pudding into process: ‘Dramaturgy is visualising and embodying by performing the structure itself; it emancipates itself from an idea on paper by placing the idea into time and space, giving it a body. (Reder 2010). Tim Etchells, who similarly considers dramaturgy as a ‘positioning of information’ that is ‘not just temporal but also physical’, draws attention to the internal dynamics, the ‘ontological tension’ between elements, and the affective tangles and loops that complicate performance (2009:72-3). Dramaturgical work is, as Reder suggests, ‘an art form, not a science’, far form being formulaic (2010).

It is clear that there can be composition, performance analyses and even performance making, without the necessary involvement of the dramaturg. We can therefore discuss the term ‘dramaturgy’ in isolation from the professional role of the dramaturg. If we do not make this distinction, we seem to be saying that works with our dramaturgs have inadequate or even non-existent dramaturgies: this would clearly be a ludicrous claim. Indeed, it is impossible for a play to be entirely without a dramaturgy, any more than it can be without structure or compositional strategy.

On the other hand, the professional dramaturg specialises in an understanding of dramaturgy and is able to bring analytical and compositional skills to assist in all aspects of the theatre making process. The role has its traditions, histories and it’s practices, as well as its ongoing debates and developments.”

Etchells, Tim (2010), ‚Doing Time‘, Performance Research, 14.3, pp. 71-80

Reder, Peter (2010), ‚Ten Altered Notes on Dramaturgy‘, Maska, 16, 131-2, pp. 36-9

Thomson, Peter (2006), ‚Brech’s Lives‘, in Peter Thomson and Glendyr Sacks (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 22-39



Cathy turner & synne behrndt: dramaturgy and performance. 2nd edition. London&New York 2017, 4-5


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