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THEA457 The Working Dramaturg

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An overview of the key practices of the dramaturg, including editing of play-scripts, communicating with playwright, director and community, and the selection, development, research and analysis of plays for production.

THEA 457 The Working Dramaturg is a widely applicable paper, complementing any focus within the Theatre Studies degree and beyond. Dramaturgy is the study of dramatic structure, storytelling, and communication, and can be applied to virtually any vocation. This paper also teaches specific, specialist skills to prepare students to function as an industry dramaturg. A career as a dramaturg (a professional, often working for major theatre companies, who deals with the selection, research and development of plays and opera for production, as well as serving as a script-editor and creative industry and community liaison) is particularly desirable and apt for not only Theatre Studies graduates, but also in disciplines such as English and Media, Film, and Communication. The dramaturg’s role combines expertise in historical research, excellent oral and written communication together with creative practice skills. Dramaturgy courses are increasingly offered in international Theatre and Performance Studies programmes, but no other universities in Aotearoa offer an equivalent paper with the same ‘industry’ focus as this one.

Paper title The Working Dramaturg
Paper code THEA457
Subject Theatre Studies
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,174.57
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,762.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,897.81

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Prerequisite
72 300-level THEA points
Notes
May not be credited with THEA 421 taught in 2018 and 2020
Contact

Amanda Faye Martin – amanda.martin@otago.ac.nz
Dr Suzanne Little – suzanne.little@otago.ac.nz

Teaching staff

Amanda Faye Martin – Playwriting Teaching Fellow

Paper Structure

The first half of the semester focuses on the role of the dramaturg as a researcher, editor, new play developer, and creative liaison/consultant. Lectures and readings address script analysis and feedback strategies, research for productions, adaptation, and the dramaturg’s role in education. Students also read a number of both historical and modern plays from mostly New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom, expanding their understanding of play structure (both traditional and alternative) and global trends.

The second half of the semester gives the students the opportunity to work in a practical setting, in particular by being paired with playwriting students from THEA 341/441 (Advanced Writing for the Stage and Screen). Directors from THEA451 will direct staged readings of the plays from the collaboration. Dramaturgs are assessed on their ability to provide constructive feedback to the playwrights in written notes. They also facilitate readings of the playwrights’ work, in conjunction with the 300- and 400-level directing students. Each dramaturgy student is also required to research a topic and give a presentation to the class: dramaturgs are often educators, so an ability to communicate clearly research and ideas is crucial. Devised theatre is explored towards the end of the semester, giving students a toolkit and practical experience for dramaturging work that is created collaboratively.

Throughout the paper, students also submit assessments that apply lectures and readings to their chosen ‘Casebook’ play. During the first two weeks of the semester, each student chooses a play to continually investigate through various exercises as their research, analysis, and creative abilities accumulate.

There are two lectures/practical classes per week (each two hours), some of which are used for meetings with playwrights, devising, and student lectures, but most are lectures and discussions.

Textbooks

Performing Dramaturgy – Fiona Graham (available in the bookshop, and library)
Plays and other resources will be provided (on Blackboard, with permission from playwrights), or available in the library.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Cultural Understanding, Ethics, Research
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

This course aims to prepare students to become working dramaturgs in several capacities. Students will develop critical reading skills, script evaluation and research techniques, and learn how to interact with playwrights, directors, and other members of an artistic team. This will include the development of devising and script-shaping skills. During the course, students will have real-life experience with playwrights and directors, and will continually explore modern trends in theatre worldwide.

Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

  • Read a script critically and provide constructive feedback to playwrights and directors
  • Write an informative script report
  • Prepare production research materials for both directors and actors
  • Develop ideas for an original production/adaptation
  • Educate others on a theatre-related topic
  • Have an introductory knowledge of devised theatre and script shaping (dramaturg as writer) and a deeper knowledge of modern trends in theatre

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Timetable

Semester 1

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
A1 Wednesday 13:00-14:50 9-15, 17-22

Workshop

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
A1 Friday 14:00-15:50 9-14, 17-22