Gotthold Lessing

Dramaturge

[dram-uh-turj, drah-muh-]
A dramaturge or dramaturg is a position within a theatre that deals mainly with research and development. It has gained its modern-day function through the innovations of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a playwright and theatre practitioner who worked in Germany in the 18th century.

The dramaturg's contribution was to categorize and discuss the various types and kinds of plays, their interconnectedness and their styles.

The responsibilities of dramaturg vary from one theater company to the next, but they typically include the hiring of actors, the development of a season of plays with a sense of the coherence among them, the assistance with and editing of new plays by resident or guest playwrights, the creation of programs or accompanying educational services, and even helping the director with rehearsals, and serving as elucidator of history or spokesperson for deceased or otherwise absent playwrights.

In the United Kingdom, dramaturgs function similarly although they are more often, themselves, also playwrights. In the USA, where this position was until recently relatively uncommon, it has enjoyed a recent growth, particularly in theater companies that focus on developing new plays.

The dramaturg will often conduct research into the historical and social conditions, specific locations, time periods, and/or theatrical styles of plays chosen by the company, to assist the playwright, director and/or design team in their production. The dramaturg locates and translates worthy scripts from other languages, writes articles and makes media appearances promoting shows and community programs, and helps develop original scripts.

Despite intimate connection with all aspects of play selection, production, and performance, the dramaturg remains independent, keeping a critical eye on the company's creative activities, working to improve and maintain high quality.

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