Dramaturgy is the art of drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

tic composition and the representation
Representation (arts)
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...

 of the main elements of drama on the stage. Dramaturgy is a distinct practice separate from play writing and directing, although a single individual may perform any combination of the three. Some dramatists combine writing and dramaturgy when creating a drama. Others work with a specialist, called a dramaturg, to adapt a work for the stage.

Dramaturgy may also be defined, more broadly, as shaping a story into a form that may be acted. Dramaturgy gives the work or the performance a structure
Dramatic structure
Dramatic structure is the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film. Many scholars have analyzed dramatic structure, beginning with Aristotle in his Poetics...


History of Dramaturgy

The term "dramaturgy" was created by the German dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature...

. From 1767-1770 he wrote and published a series of criticisms entitled the Hamburg Dramaturgy (Hamburgische Dramaturgie). These works analyzed, criticized and theorized the German theatre, and make Lessing the father of modern Dramaturgy.

Another important work to the Western theatre tradition work is the Poetics by Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 (written around 335 BC). In this work Aristotle analyses tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

. He considers Oedipus Rex (c. 429 BC) as the quintessential dramatic work. He analyses the relations between character
Character (arts)
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

, action, and speech. He gives examples of what he considers to be good plots and examines the reactions the plays provoke in the audience. Many of his "rules" are often associated with "Aristotelian drama", where deus ex machina
Deus ex machina
A deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.-Linguistic considerations:...

 is a weakness and where the action is structured economically. Many key concepts of drama, such as anagnorisis
Anagnorisis is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery. Anagnorisis originally meant recognition in its Greek context, not only of a person but also of what that person stood for...

 and catharsis
Catharsis or katharsis is a Greek word meaning "cleansing" or "purging". It is derived from the verb καθαίρειν, kathairein, "to purify, purge," and it is related to the adjective καθαρός, katharos, "pure or clean."-Dramatic uses:...

, are discussed in the Poetics. In the last century Aristotle's analysis has formed the basis for numerous TV and film-writing guides. The Poetics is the earliest surviving Western work of dramatic theory
Dramatic theory
Dramatic theory is a term used for works that attempt to form theories about theatre and drama. Examples of ancient dramatic theory include Aristotle's Poetics from Ancient Greece and Bharata Muni's Natyasastra from ancient India.- External links :...

. Probably the earliest non-Western dramaturgic work is the Indian Sanskrit "Natayasatra" ('The Art of Theatre') written about 100 AD which describes the elements, forms and narrative elements of the major ten types of ancient Indian dance dramas.

Practice of Dramaturgy

Dramaturgy is a comprehensive exploration of the context in which the play resides. The dramaturg is the resident expert on the physical, social, political, and economic milieus in which the action
takes place, the psychological underpinnings of the characters, the various metaphorical expressions in the play of thematic concerns; as well as on the technical consideration of the play as a piece of writing: structure, rhythm, flow, even individual word choices.

Institutional dramaturgs may participate in many phases of play production including casting of the play, offering inhouse criticism of productions-in-progress, and informing the director, the cast and the audience about a play’s past history and its current importance.In America, this type of dramaturgy is sometimes known as Production Dramaturgy. Institutional or Production dramaturgs may make files of materials about a play's history or social context, prepare program notes, lead post-production
discussions, write study guides for schools and groups. These actions can assist a director in
integrating textual and acting criticism, performance theory, and historical research into a
production before it opens.

Dramaturgy can also be referred to dance and performing arts in general. Some example are: Heidi Gilpin, who translates ideas--linguistic, mathematical or scientific--into an understanding that offers a common ground that facilitate INTERACTION between her and world-famous choreographer Forsythe.
Andre Lepecki is present throughout the entire rehearsal process and offers feedback to Meg Stuart outside the studio, playing the part of the witness in the creative process. Hildegard De Vuyst is the first SPECTATOR, strengthening and developing moments of material. Bojana Cvejic, the dramaturg of Xavier Le Roy, sees herself as someone that creates conditions for the work, therefore a facilitator of the process.


Since dramaturgy is defined in a general way and the function of a dramaturg may vary from production to production, the US copyright issues have very vague borders.

In 2006, there was debate based on the question of the extent to which a dramaturg owns a production, such as the case of Larson and Thomson. Lynn Thomson, Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson was an American composer and playwright noted for the serious social issues of multiculturalism, addiction, and homophobia explored in his work. Typical examples of his use of these themes are found in his works, Rent and tick, tick... BOOM!...

's dramaturg on the musical Rent
Rent (musical)
Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème...

, claimed that she was a co-author of the work and that she never assigned, licensed or otherwise transferred her rights. She asked that the court declare her a co-author of Rent and grant her 16% of the author's share of the royalties. Although she made her claim only after the show became a big hit, the case is not without precedent, for 15% of the royalties of Angels in America
Angels in America
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is the 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning play in two parts by American playwright Tony Kushner. It has been made into both a television miniseries and an opera by Peter Eötvös.-Characters:...

go to the author's dramaturg. On June 19, 1998 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the original court's ruling that Thompson was not entitled to be credited with co-authorship of Rent and that she was not entitled to royalties. The case was ultimately settled out of court with Thomson receiving an undisclosed sum after she threatened to remove her material from the production. http://www.allbusiness.com/services/amusement-recreation-services/4583852-1.html


  • Castagno, Paul. "Varieties of Monologic Strategy: the Dramaturgy of Len Jenkin and Mac Wellman," New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. IX, No. 34 (May 1993) pp. 134-146. Cambridge University Press.
  • Castagno, Paul. "Informing the New Dramaturgy: Critical Theory to Creative Process," Theatre Topics Vol 3: no. 1 (March 1993) pp. 29-42. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Castagno, Paul. New Playwriting Strategies: A Language Based Approach to Playwriting. New York, London: Routledge (2001).

External links

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