Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy

Dramaturgical Change in the Past Twenty Years
September 15, 2011, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Dramaturgy, MFA, NYC Theatre, Script Development | Tags: ,

by Anne Hamilton

The use of new technologies has greatly impacted the field of dramaturgy since I began practicing in 1991.

Imagine this: No email, No internet, No cell phones. No sharing of files. You have to do your research in person, in the library. You have to buy your New York Times every day to read the reviews. You have to wait for each theatre’s season brochures in the mail, or go to the theatre in person to pick up materials. Each script is slogged around in your backpack. Each meeting is made in person or by phone. You use a pay phone to check your messages on your home phone. And schedules are distributed on paper. Wow.

There is no electronic system to post your materials on. You can’t do send your thesis proposal to your advisor and get line by line comments in your inbox. You can’t dramaturg a script from miles or continents away. There is no Skype. No Facebook. And no iPhone.


What has remained the same? The thrill of the chase – for instance, finding the answer to that esoteric question from your director, or checking a fact for a playwright. There is the same search for knowledge and experience that makes a good dramaturg want to always become a better one. You still need to be in the room when the piece of theatre is going on, and to meet other artists backstage and in the lobby. And perhaps, most important, there is still a sense of hope and expectation when a new script lies in front of you and you’re about to turn that first page.

Dramaturgy is still a hunt, a quest and a thrill. I don’t think that will ever change.

This post also appears on Poor Lessing’s Theatre Almanack (http://poorlessingsalmanack.


1 Comment so far
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I couldn’t agree more. The chase is thrilling, like that of a detective. But unlike a detective chase, the dramaturg’s chase is an artistic one, and there is always a place for an artist in the society.

Comment by Walter Chon

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