Defining dramaturgy: Taking an inside look at THTR-3330

Last week, students received a campus wide email about a course called Dramaturgy. Both the word and the course are unfamiliar to many, and they need some explanation. After sitting in on a class and talking to students and the professor, I have a much better grasp on the concept.

The class studies the art of dramaturgy by having the students in the class act as dramaturgs. Dramaturgy is not defined by any singular action, but senior Kate Cuellar, who took the class in the past and is now the peer tutor, attempted to describe it.

“A dramaturg is a person involved in production that wears many, many hats. Dramaturgs do a contextualizing of the play for actors, designers and the director. They also read play submissions in theaters where plays are sent. They can give in-house critiques of a play or rehearsal. We are kind of a jack-of-all-trades,” Cuellar said.

Stacey Connelly, associate professor of human communication and theatre, teaches the course. She takes pride in the work her students do and in their involvement with dramatic productions, and she enjoys seeing their behind-the-scenes contributions.

“What I find most rewarding about it is it gets our students totally involved in the productions that we do. They not only get a sense of the production artistically, but why we do theatre and what’s important about doing theatre,” Connelly said.

The students in the course come from different backgrounds and have a variety of reasons for taking the course. Some enjoy theatre and intend to major in it, but others simply stumbled upon something that sounded interesting.

“I had actually never heard of the class before getting the email from Dr. Tynes. I’m a huge literature nerd. I love reading, I love analyzing and I love writing papers about things like this. I also love drama, but have never gotten a chance to get involved in it because my high school did not have a theatre department,” said sophomore Erin Roberson. “Something I could combine two of my passions and get credit for was an opportunity I really wanted to have.”