Adventures in Dramaturgy: Lessing & Consequences — dramaturgy , Gotthold Ephraim Lessing — AAPEX

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adventures in Dramaturgy: Lessing & Consequences

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Dramaturgy. Strange word.

For over 30 years, people have been asking me what dramaturgy is and what a dramaturg does. Every now and then, I think I have an answer, but mostly I find I am just as baffled as everyone else. What I do know is that dramaturgy has become a major force in the American theatre over the past three decades and it would be nice if the American public could get comfortable with this word and familiar with the role that it plays in the evolution of our national drama and in forging the history of our times.

In order to grasp "dramaturgy" you have to be up for a short course in theatre/literary history; you have to check out Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

Lessing is the dude to whom we tend to attribute the establishment of the field of dramaturgy.

In his day - the middle of the 18th century, more or less - France dominated European culture, especially when it came to theatre. This got on Lessing's nerves, so he suggested that the Germans come up with their own take on things, and to demonstrate what he meant, he wrote some plays in the "german" style (which actually didn't exist until he wrote those plays.) His best play is a little tragedy called EMILIA GALOTTI.

Lessing is my hero.

In contemporary parlance, Lessing's annoyance with France has it's parallel with the American obsession with NYC and Broadway. But "when I'm dancing on Peachtree Street, I'm still dancing on my Broadway feet." That's all I'm saying.

For anyone who is interested in finding out more about dramaturgs and dramaturgy, there is a very fine organization, the LMDA, which has more information on their website.

Jaz Dorsey
AAPEX Dramaturg
The Nashville Dramaturgy Project

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