Responses to ‘Dramaturgy and Performance’

There have been two recent reviews in response to Dramaturgy and Performance, one by Rosalind Haslett (University of Ulster) in Contemporary Theatre Review 19, 2, pp.240-241, 2009 and one by Ara G. Beal (University of Maryland) in Theatre Topics 19, 1, p.110, 2009.

Both reviews are positive in tone, particularly Haslett’s for CTR, however what is particularly interesting to us is what each reviewer singles out as interesting and what they would like to see expanded.

For instance, Haslett writes, ‘their identification of the convergence between the work of the architect regarding the “performance of architecture” and that of the dramaturg on “the architectures of performance” is particularly interesting.’ This is especially great to hear, as it is at the core of our current enquiries. In a more general sense, she praises the way that the book ‘successfully extends the debate beyond the confines of new writing for the theatre’ and ‘does much to open up the debate, interrogating a broad spectrum of contemporary performance forms, including devising, live art and interactive technologies such as Second Life.’ Beal also comments approvingly of our inclusion of ‘dance dramaturgy and multimedia dramaturgy, including video games and virtual space/reality’, yet regrets that we spend so little space on these topics (a regret we also shared at the time of writing). In this, they both echo Jacqueline Bolton’s earlier sense that the book ‘expands horizons’ (in her review for Theatre Research International, 33,3, pp.331-2, 2008), or at least, they acknowledge that we ‘successfully draw attention to some newer practices’ (Beal), but they also confirm our own appreciation that there is further to go.

What we particularly find heartening about both the positive comments and the critical queries in these two reviews (make that three with Bolton’s) is that they suggest that the field really is opening up as we thought and hoped it might be and that there is now eagerness for discussion about the application of dramaturgical thinking and the usefulness of the concept of dramaturgy in a wide range of contexts. The message we really seem to be getting from these reviews is that this is a good start, but there’s a need to press further, expand further, explore further. We look forward to doing so.

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