The Shakespearean Dramaturg: A Job Description

  • Andrew James Hartley


It has been said that good directors don’t need a dramaturg. Part of the agenda of this book is to demonstrate why such an assumption is wrong, but to tackle the question properly we must first decide what a dramaturg is. The roots of modern dramaturgy are largely twentieth century and German, but the jobs done by the dramaturg are considerably older and of more eclectic beginnings.1 Much that today falls under the purview of the dramaturg was once the domain of the actor/manager in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and a case can be made that even as far back as Medieval and ancient Europe there were people who functioned in ways aligning themselves with the modern dramaturg. Most of these jobs might be considered managerial, though I mean that in an artistic and critical sense, not merely organizational or financial. The German model that has begun to establish itself in the United States embodies much of this managerial spirit, and some dramaturgs have become the heads of prominent companies as a result. These dramaturgs focus not just on individual productions, or even seasons, but also on the long-term aesthetic and intellectual purpose of the company. As such these dramaturgs are crucially involved in the commissioning and developing of new plays, and in the large-scale building of an artistically invested community.


Literary Criticism Theatre Practitioner Rehearsal Process Critical Sense Managerial Spirit 
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© Andrew James Hartley 2005

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  • Andrew James Hartley

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