The role of the dramaturg…

The role of the Dramaturg?

What actually is a Dramaturg? The dramaturg has many different jobs or roles, the role within the company is usually dependant on the nature of the organisation. A production within an organisation involves a network of people working together.

The dramaturg is sometimes used as the productions mediator, otherwise described as the ‘go-between’ or the communicator between the members within the organisation/company. The dramaturgy will often liaise between:

  • The production and the public
  • Artistic director and producer
  • Actor and director

…to unsure the smooth running of the production and to make sure all members of the company are on the same wave-length with regards to the final vision for the production.

“You have to be the integrator and the communicator and you have to mediate between all these parties” (Henrik Adler 2005, p.20 cited in Turner and Behrndt 2008, p.161)

As well as taking on the role as the ‘spokesperson’ of the team, the dramaturg may also have other varying roles with regards to the framing of the production. Their time may be concerned with finding ways of articulating and shaping the decision making within the rehearsal space. This job in particular may sound quite similar to the work of the director, especially when considering the rehearsal process, however when the the role of the dramaturg is viewed as a more a collaborator, the dramaturg and the director work in close collaboration anyway. It is known that occasionally some directors find this daunting and their presence viewed as threatening, but for other directors the dramaturgs input is welcome.

The dramaturg is involved with many others key areas when building a production. They contribute to the understanding of the motives and style or the production, they provide support, feedback and are also sometimes in charge of the research and facilitation of the piece. Some dramaturgs provide a great amount of input into the general decision making, development and architecture of the work. In some cases a strong element of the artistic investment is personal to the dramaturgs work.

A big question that is said to be a bit of a mystery when considering the dramaturgs work…What specifically is personally their own work? When you take the nature of their work and their role into account, in some cases its hard to pin-point exactly which ideas/input does the dramaturg actually claim. Due to this, in some cases the dramaturgs input can almost go unrecognised as it is very difficult to claim ownership upon any single element of the performance as being distinctly their own.

Anne Bogart, director of New York based SITI states

“I think with dramaturgs there is usually this really bizarre question of ownership or something, a director has ownership of staging, a actor has ownership of the acting…well, in the best case, usually in a new play the role of the dramaturg is not to have ownership. But if you look at American Silents, there is a huge amount of ownership and its called ownership of archival materials and of structural ideas. (Coleman and Wolff 1998, p. 27: ctied in Turner and Behrndt 2008, p. 164)

This statement, as one example, suggests that perhaps dramaturgs do get the recognition they deserve, but credited under a different name.


  • Turner, Cathy and Synne K, Behrndt (2008) dramaturgy and performance, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Written by Amie.

Woyzeck Character Development

On this part of the blog I will be describing the process that I have gone through to get my version of the character Woyzeck. Starting from my first initial ideas about how I could play the character, how those have developed and how I aim to develop them further.

At first when the play Woyzeck was described to me (before reading it), I had the idea that the character Woyzeck would have the characteristics of a twitchy nervous mental patient (similar to the kind Brad Pitt plays in Twelve Monkeys film) and having such character traits as fast head twitches and jolts, big wide eyes and lots of fidgeting. I had this first initial idea because the description of the character that was given to me described him as mentally unstable and somewhat scary.

After the first read through I understood more what Woyzeck had to go through, for instance; his wife cheats on him and doctors doing experiments on him. This gave me a much clearer idea of what Woyzeck would be like. I think he would be less likely to twitch and fidget, as this would show a sort of deranged person, but more likely to stand and stare off into space on a regular basis and loose all concentration.


Woyzeck (shaving scene)

I found this recording of a contemporised performance of Woyzeck. I think this is a great example of how NOT to do it. (Despite the terrible acting) I think that the Woyzeck tries to jump from being funny to being scared and jumpy, which does not work at all. It’s clear from this performance that the script is a very delicate thing. Also it’s clear that the audience perception is delicate if the actor’s intentions are not clear. Jumping from trying to be funny to trying to gain sympathy from the audience is not going to work. It plays too much with the audience and leaves them unaware of whether they should be laughing at or feeling sorry for Woyzeck.

I noticed after watching this Youtube video of how that theatre company tried to perform Woyzeck, that the character Woyzeck is fragile. Fragile in the sense of the audience interpretations of him, if it’s not made clear Woyzeck’s emotion then it will mess the whole performance up. I from this point made it my mission to ensure that the audience’s interpretation of Woyzeck is that he is being destroyed from the outside in. as hard as it is for me to not make things funny or to might light out of situations, I didn’t want to make Woyzeck funny. I’ve grown to truly understand the torture that Woyzeck is feeling and the only laughing the audience would be doing towards Woyzeck would be awkward laughing, because are not sure about how else to act.

Past Productions and soundscapes……

In our production we have decided to focus on the main character Woyzeck and centralize the audiences experience to reflect his inner thoughts and fears, even his decent into insanity. I felt that the sound of the production should also fit into this edict, this however seems to be different to traditional and even modern performances of Woyzeck in the sense of audio.

In the Howard Gilman Opera House Oct 15/17/18 2008  there was a production of Woyzeck that featured the musical styling’s of Nick Cave;

This production had a different feel because although quite melancholy it focused the audio in a more broad manner, focusing on the actions of the play and having a well balanced production score, instead of the almost Artaudian way of pulling the audience into a mode of catharsis to sympathise with Woyzecks character which this production hopes to achieve. Because it focuses on the entertainment of the audience as much as telling the story the music was more lively due to the way the instruments were played. Even the use of conventional instruments is differing from our production.

This clip shows Nick Cave’s performance for Woyzeck:

In a further production Of Woyzeck held from November 18, 2000 featuring Tom Waits we find yet another take on the audio for Buchners unfinished play.

This production found a closer view to what ours will be performing because this production has a wide range spanning from again distorted melancholy music to slow instrumental soundscapes filled with many long drones that bring an unnerving presence to the piece that makes each action seem that much more terrifying from a third person perspective. Like this production the music reflected the anguish and the “feel” of Woyzeck to help tell the story of how he is seeing the world.

This clip shows extracts just like the link above:

What If…

Further to the comments left on my earlier post on the great poem If, I’ve been doing some thinking.

 As our piece is to be performed in a promenade style I think it would be a great idea to have certain words and phrases from the poem stuck up around the building as we perform. If we couple this with the idea of weaving in certain words and lines of the poem into the play text, I think this would work on a level that would affect the audience on a subconscious level – they may not even notice the words on the walls.

 Prime example, at least for Dramaturgy and selfishly for me, would be in the shaving scene where we talk about time being wasted. The Captain could utter ‘Fill the unforgiving minute’.

 Any thoughts?