Dramaturgy in Two Senses: Towards a Theory and Some Working Principles of New-Play Dramaturgy

Art Borreca


Towards a Theory of New-Play Dramaturgy

To work as a dramaturg on new plays, it helps to be a little of each of the following: theatre artist, critic, scholar of modern drama, therapist, conflict mediator, organizational consultant. Traditional definitions of dramaturgy take one of these roles and qualify it, calling the dramaturg, for instance, a "critic inside the process" or a "director behind the firing lines." While such designations are insufficient for the dramaturg who works on classical productions, they may nonetheless capture the nature of his main function on a project. For example, the dramaturg might serve primarily as a scholarly expert or resource, as an observer and critic of the rehearsal process, or as a textual or translation consultant. In contrast, while the new-play dramaturg might primarily give feedback on the rehearsal process, or consult with the playwright while he is writing, this sort of dramaturg tends to serve at least two or more functions--artistic, critical, organizational, therapeutic, and others.

This is so because the dramatic text and its maker--as well as the performance of the work--demand equal attention from the new-play dramaturg. If the writer is involved at all in the "workshopping" or production of his play, rehearsals will tend to structure themselves around not only the development of the play but also the creative and psychological processes that the writer is going through. These processes may not be the focus of rehearsals, but a writer's process can set their general tone and structure. Moreover, many new-play programs, at both the pro-

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