Dramaturg  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dot"The play is the thing!" Hamlet shouts in the famous play by William Shakespeare. And you can be sure that any dramaturg would agree with those words.

Dramaturgs are play and screenplay specialists. They can be involved in historical research. They can adapt novels for the stage or screen, translate plays or give directors and actors advice on how to interpret a script.

dotDramaturgs analyze text that will be used to stage a play. They research how the play was interpreted in other productions. They do historical research to make sure costumes, language and sets are appropriate to the period of the play. They are able to answer any questions that may arise from the script.

Dramaturgs analyze the actual text in the play. Is this play a good one? That's what dramaturgs might ask when evaluating and assessing a new play. Dramaturgs sometimes work directly with playwrights, advising them on their progress.

dotDramaturgs can perform a variety of other duties, such as acting as a liaison between the director and the playwright. They might translate scripts, act as the official representative of the theater, write program notes and help with play selection.

Dramaturgs can work in a variety of settings. Some are institutional dramaturgs who work full time at large theaters. Others are university professors who work for a variety of theater productions. Still others work on a freelance basis, moving from project to project.

Full-time dramaturgs generally work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. However, some evening work is required for things like assessing performances.

"In some instances, a dramaturg might not leave until 11 p.m., but it isn't like the life of an actor who spends a lot of time working in the evening," says Geoff Proehl. He is a dramaturg in Tacoma, Washington.

Dramaturgs may use computer databases and visit libraries to compile research information. This isn't a job that requires much physical activity.

At a Glance

Analyze the script and help the director

  • This job can involve historical research
  • You can work in a variety of settings
  • A university theater program is a good place to start