Dramaturgy, authorship and the performance of identity
: a history of the dramaturgy profession in the United States of America and the United Kingdom

  • Haslett Rosalind

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis locks into important contemporary questions about the development of the dramaturgy profession and the play-development industry in twentieth/twenty- first century UK theatre. In as much as it is dependent upon physical realities, financial resources, organisational structures and interpersonal relations, theatre- making is a material process. This thesis, therefore, identifies three distinct strands of the UK dramaturgy profession which have been defined by the particular material structures within which they are located. 'Literary management' is a concept associated with a building-based theatre institution, while 'development dramaturgy' is more often the remit of a non-producing organisation with responsibilities to a larger region or catchment area. Yet, if these terms imply particular architectural or geographical scope, the concept of 'production dramaturgy' is more often associated with marking out new creative territories and it potentially signals a repositioning of the playwright in theatre-making process. Indeed the emergence of the dramaturgy profession has been concurrent with a reconceptualisation of the notion of 'authorship' within theatre-making. As such, the dramaturg/playwright relationship is a crucial factor in all three of these strands. Many analyses of the dramaturgy profession have looked to a 'pan-European' history, which flattens the inevitable differences between models emerging from varied national contexts. This thesis seeks to expand upon existing literature by focusing upon UK case studies which are supported by micro-histories of American dramaturgical development. Tracing exchanges between theatrical practices in America and the UK, this work analyses the relationship between dramaturgs and public/private attempts to articulate national identity through theatre. Far from being simply the product of a European tradition, this thesis contends that the dramaturgy profession is closely associated with more recent UK models of theatre-making, which are decentralised and express culturally-hybrid identities, and which have been substantially influenced by the American regional theatre movement.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Ulster
    SupervisorKevin De Ornellas (Supervisor)

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