Essay on The Definition of Dramaturgy

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Dramaturgy is often referred to as being a very ‘slippery’ and indefinable word; though there are standard definitions available for us to find, we cannot seem to comprehend these definitions without exceptions arising. For example, the online Oxford English Dictionary defines dramaturgy as either being a ‘dramatic composition; the dramatic art’ or as ‘dramatic or theatrical acting.’ However, words such as ‘composition’ can be highly vague, leaving itself open to broad interpretations and debates via the scholars of drama and theatre studies. Similarly, we are left to question what exactly the role of a dramaturg is, and whether they perform this role alone or share it; as no one has actually established a clear definition of what…show more content…
However, the Age of Enlightenment was an elite movement which opposed traditional religious norms and values. It aimed at getting people to think for themselves, and for people to use their own creativity and ingenuity instead of merely relying on the words of those with authority and status. In the words of Enlightenment philosopher Emmanuel Kant (1784), ‘Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another’. As a result, dramaturgy acted under the banner of the Enlightenment, freeing theatre from the limitations placed upon it by societies which were entrenched in tradition.

At the forefront of the dramaturgy movement was the 18th century dramaturg, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Though the procedure of creating and analysing dramatic compositions had been present in the world of theatre for many years prior to Lessing’s writings, it was indeed his own work, Hamburgische Dramaturgie, which finally coined the term ‘dramaturgy’; giving it worldwide recognition and opening it up to scholarly discussion. Lessing wanted to use dramaturgy to reshape German theatre. For example, Lessing ‘concentrated on the establishment of a “Bürgerliches Theatre”’, which would introduce a brand new genre of bourgeois tragedy to German theatre (Barnett, 1987, p. 408). However, he also
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