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School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies

TH 326 Dramaturgy


Module Convenor: Dr Susan Haedicke (




“To find the form that accommodates the mess;

that is the task of the artist now.”

Samuel Beckett


“But meaning is not the end of art;

experience and impact of experience are.”

Bernard Beckerman, Dynamics of Drama


“The goal of dramaturgy is to resolve the antipathy between

the intellectual and the practical in theatre,

fusing the two into an organic whole.”

Leon Katz, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Dramaturgy

and Dramatic Criticism at Yale University

and former Production Dramaturg

at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California



Dr. Susan Haedicke

Office: F03

Phone: 02476150611


Class location: Millburn Studio

Class times: Tuesday, 2-5pm

Office Hours: Monday 12-1:30pm




Nina: Your play’s hard to act, there are no living people in it.

Treplev: Living people! We should show life neither as it is nor as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams.

Nina: There’s not much action, it’s just a lot of speeches. I think a play really needs a love interest. (Chekhov, The Seagull)


Chekhov’s characters poignantly argue about key aspects of dramaturgy: form and content. Dramaturgy can be seen as a tool for recognizing or creating the shape of a story through a range of theatrical languages, including but not limited to words, movement, sound, site, imagery, multi-media and fire. This shaping, molding or crafting gives the work its form (or structure) and content.


In this practice-based module in dramaturgy, we will interrogate the connection between the script (in the broadest sense of the term) and the live performance(s), and we will explore different methods of performance analysis of both written plays and non-text-based performance forms that result in various possible interpretations and page-to-stage approaches. The module also looks at the historical precedents of dramaturgy and examines the role of the dramaturg in the contemporary theatre. Students will learn what a dramaturg does, including play analysis, creative research, adaptation, devising, and new play development primarily through practice, but also through reading the ideas and insights of professional dramaturges and from visits from professional dramaturgs. In addition, students will create a range of short projects using writing, research, art, and imagination.




By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of dramatic structure and style
  • use dramaturgical tools of performance analysis and creative research
  • conduct background research (written and visual) on the world of the play or performance text
  • create adaptations for performance from a different genre, art form or historical event
  • demonstrate an understanding of the role of the dramaturg in the contemporary theatre




Please be sure to do the reading by the day it is listed on the syllabus. Except for the plays and Hutcheon, Theory of Adaptation, the readings are available online or on three-day reserve.


Please be sure to read all the plays for the portfolio/program project (listed on p. 6) by Week 10 (autumn). There are copies available in the library and Kate has a few copies of each play that you can borrow.