Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Jen here, talking about dramaturgy.

I'm just throwing these thoughts at the page here, not because I've got any significant news to report, but because dramaturgy is much on my mind at the moment, and I wanted to share some info about it.

For those unfamiliar with the term, dramaturgy is the play-script equivalent of editing in the world of writing novels. A dramaturg is basically an editor who works with a playwright or bookwriter to help them fully realise their own intentions for their work.

A friend of mine quoted this definition at me:

Origin of Dramaturgy
German Dramaturgie, from Greek dramatourgia dramatic composition, fromdramat-, drama + -ourgia -urgy - A dramaturge or dramaturg is a professional position within a theatre or opera company that deals mainly with research and development of plays or operas. Its modern-day function was originated by the innovations of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, an 18th-century German playwright, philosopher, and theorist about theatre.

Wikipedia says various things, including: "Dramaturgy is a distinct practice separate from play writing and directing, although a single individual may perform any combination of the three."

I recently went to a gathering of SDUK, which is a new organisation for Stage Directors in this country. They held an open space for their members, and one of the sessions called was this one: Can directors share authorship with writers?

The short answer (from me, but also going along with the official guidelines from the world of writing) is yes, if they are being writers at the time, and there's a prior agreement that they will be a writer for that part of the process. But if they're being a director or a dramaturg, then the answer is no. (Although there are rare circumstances under which it might be agreed.)

Herein lies some controversy, which I am not going to address right now, but will at some point down the line because I think it's hugely important, not just for us writers / dramaturgs / directors as collaborators, but also - mostly - for the sake of the work we make together.

The Writers Guild of Great Britain has some guidelines on dramaturgy, which exist within this brilliant booklet: Engaging With Theatres

The Dramatists Guild of America also have some guidelines. See the second item down on this page.

Here's the actual PDF.

They also have a great Bill of Rights.

More on this soon, because it's something I think is enormously important.

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