What is Dramaturgy?

Over the past three decades, the role of the dramaturg and literary manager has expanded in the United States and Canada alongside the increasing importance of contemporary playwriting. Working in theatres and playwrights' organizations, in colleges and universities, and on a project-by-project basis, dramaturgs contextualize the world of a play; establish connections among the text, actors, and audience; offer opportunities for playwrights; generate projects and programs; and create conversations about plays in their communities.

In the ecology of theatre-making, dramaturgs and literary managers forge a critical link between artists and institutions, and institutions and their communities. They work with their other artistic collaborators to hone their vision, focus their goals and find outlets for their creative work on new and classical plays and dance pieces.

Dramaturgs and literary managers serve the field as experts on our dramatic past and as advocates for writers of today and the important work of the future.  Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) connects dramaturgs and literary managers together with their director, writer, actor, academic and student colleagues in ways that impact the culture and landscape of theatre in North America and, more recently, abroad.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Help develop the mission
Help plan the season
Help look for scripts

NEW PLAYS
Solicit scripts from writers and agents
Read and evaluate new scripts
Track and file those scripts
Write kindly letters to writers whose script we won’t be producing
Negotiate with agents
Prepare adaptations and translations
Commission new work
Organize the in-house play reading program
Organize the new play reading program for subscribers
Help bring new plays into full production
Support those writers whose vision captures our minds and hearts

PRODUCTION DRAMATURGY
Locate drafts and versions
Collate, cut, track, edit, rewrite, construct, and arrange
Secure permissions to use copyrighted material
Find songs, pictures, stories, videos
Help the designer do the research
Help the director do casting
Help the marketeers and developers
Seek and present pathways into the world of the play
Gather and arrange images, sounds, and ideas for rehearsal
Explore and present: the world of the play
the author of the play,
the script’s production history,
the relevant criticism
Conceive the forms of the script as a script
Conceive the forms of the play as it grows
Stay on course when all goes well
Maintain the calm when all goes ill
(as it will)
Create the lobby display
Love the work