A dramaturg is a library with a soul. She knows words, literature, grammar, writing, style, research, history and media (and if she doesn’t know any of these things, she knows how to find them), but she makes sure they have life, a reason for being there. She doesn’t just collect information from her hours of reading and writing; she soaks it in and discovers its purpose.
According to the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas:
“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.”
I’ve been particularly inspired by the following video as an example of the kinds of questions a dramaturg poses to a director and group of actors:
Artistic statement: I am a passionate believer in layers. It isn’t elitist privilege reserved for those with a certain degree of means or education; everyone should be able to appreciate and enjoy it. Art needs be accesable and broadly understandable while still retaining a sense of depth and profoundness. It should challenge conventionality; sometimes that means disturbing, embarassing, even terrifying its audience. At the same time, however, it needs to let its audience in. It shouldn’t scare or intimidate so much that they won’t return; rather, it should invite them in, offer something appealing or engaging on while still questioning society and its norms.