Pragmatic dramaturgy: Text as context as text

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Abstract

This essay attempts to theorize the decades-long practice of German and other dramaturgs, a practice that is rarely acknowledged by theatre research. It maintains that the dramaturgical interpretation of the specific play in the process of preparing it for stage realization is subject to 'applied dramaturgy'. Dramaturgy in this sense is predominantly 'circumstantial' rather than play-oriented, accounting mainly for the contextual performance conditions, either extra-textual, extra-theatrical or both. Through concrete and partly personal examples drawn largely from the field of production dramaturgy, the article suggests that extrinsic parameters such as the management of the theatre; the definition of the theatrical institution; its implied spectators; the reality conventions within which it operates; its human artistic, technical, spatial and financial resources; its marketing methods; and so on might be no less important to academic play and performance analysis than they are for practical theatre purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
JournalTheatre Research International
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

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