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dramaturg's notes

what is dramaturgy?

"And I got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time, in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind." —Huck


What is Dramaturgy?



AUDIENCE MEMBER:  What did you, as a dramaturg, actually do for this production?  What appeared on stage that is a result of what you did?

MARK BLY
[Dramaturg]: I can’t point to anything specifically, but if you took a knife to that play, it would bleed me.

~Exchange between an audience member and Mark Bly, senior dramaturg at Houston’s Alley Theatre, on 23 August 2007

The Role of the Dramaturg 

Over the past three decades, the role of the dramaturg and literary manager has expanded in the United States and Canada alongside the increasing importance of contemporary playwriting. Working in theatres and playwrights' organizations, in colleges and universities, and on a project-by-project basis, dramaturgs contextualize the world of a play; establish connections among the text, actors, and audience; offer opportunities for playwrights; generate projects and programs; and create conversations about plays in their communities.

In the ecology of theatre-making, dramaturgs and literary managers forge a critical link between artists and institutions, and institutions and their communities. They work with their other artistic collaborators to hone their vision, focus their goals and find outlets for their creative work on new and classical plays and dance pieces.

Dramaturgs and literary managers serve the field as experts on our dramatic past and as advocates for writers of today and the important work of the future. Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) connects dramaturgs and literary managers together with their director, writer, actor, academic and student colleagues in ways that impact the culture and landscape of theatre in North America and, more recently, abroad.

~Definition given on webpage for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)

Websites that provide further information as well as links to dramaturgical notes from previous KSU productions:

Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas

Dramaturgical Notes for Moby Dick

Dramaturgical Notes for Good Person of Szechuan

Dramaturgical Notes for Everything That Rises Must Converge

Emerson Dramaturgy Student Resources: What is Dramaturgy?