The Definition of Dramaturgy

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Dramaturgy is often referred to as being a very ‘slippery’ and indefinable word; though there are standard definitions available for us to find, we cannot seem to comprehend these definitions without exceptions arising. For example, the online Oxford English Dictionary defines dramaturgy as either being a ‘dramatic composition; the dramatic art’ or as ‘dramatic or theatrical acting.’ However, words such as ‘composition’ can be highly vague, leaving itself open to broad interpretations and debates via the scholars of drama and theatre studies. Similarly, we are left to question what exactly the role of a dramaturg is, and whether they perform this role alone or share it; as no one has actually established a clear definition of what dramaturgs actually do. Therefore, whilst I can’t propose that I can create a solid definition of what dramaturgy itself is, I shall lie the groundwork for a study into what dramaturgy may be, using an over-arching definition of what, I believe, is itself an actual field of drama and theatre studies. I initially intend to do this by referring to the teachings of such renowned dramaturgs as Adam Versényi and Gotthold Lessing. Dramaturgy also works as a form of analysis which explores the relationship between spectator, performer and even playwright; changing our preconceptions of what theatre should and could actually be. It is also important for dramaturgs to consider the social and cultural environment in which they are working, for drama is often a statement on the current society of the time, meaning that social ideas simply cannot be ignored.

In order to fully understand what dramaturgy is and how it works in current society, I feel it is necessary to explore its early roots by taking a historical...

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...rarching definition for ‘dramaturgy’ is that it is a process which uses books, plays, social research and a collection of analytical methods to both inspect and compose a plays which are often best suited to a contemporary culture.

Works Cited

Drama, 4th edition, pp. 97-195. London: Wadsworth Cengage Learning (c2004).

Barnett, S. (1987)"Über die Grenzen": Semiotics and Subjectivity in Lessing's Hamburgische Dramaturgie, pp. 407-419. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford. Stable URL:

Kant, I. (1784) What Is Enlightenment? Stable URL:

Kindelan, N. (1996) Shadows of Realism: Dramaturgy and the Theories and Practices of Modernism. Westport, Conn.; London: Praeger.

Marinis, M. (1987) Dramaturgy of the Spectator. The MIT Press. Stable URL:

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