Research Musings: Dramaturgy is difficult

Today was a classic example of my English literature brain clashing with my drama brain in an epic battle for dominance. I’m supposed to be writing a short essay for my next supervision meeting on the dramaturgical structure of The Changeling. Dramaturgy, by nature, involves using a play’s construction to make comments about how it might present in performance or, in the case of a particular production, commenting on the performance text as related to the scripted text. It’s therefore rather difficult to avoid the slippery slope that leads to close reading the text without attention to the performative possibilities it offers. 

This happened to me today: there I was, merrily writing about editorial differences in scene assignments and lineation, and I got to over 2000 words before I realised that I had yet to say anything at all about how this might apply to a performance of the play. In fact, I hadn’t even considered how it might apply. 

Fortunately, I didn’t have to ditch everything I’d written–I just had to assume a twentieth or twenty-first century, cast, creative team, and audience in order to make comments on the overarching structure of the play relevant to performance: actors working from cue scripts and without a director probably weren’t concerned about or even aware of the fact that the turning point, a crucial scene for De Flores and Beatrice-Joanna, falls smack in the centre of the play, for example. 

Hopefully it all comes together…wish me luck! 


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