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Annelis Kuhlmann

Towards a spectatorial approach to drama analysis

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The concept of dramaturgy has in recent years been expanded to include a wide range of new fields that rarely concern the analysis of the drama text itself, but rather the facilitation of creative processes. Dramaturgy has become a buzzword – but the drama is in danger of disappearing from the field. This article seeks to investigate dramaturgy as an analytical practice. In particular, we wish to examine how drama analysis, in a historical perspective, relates to the concept of theatre, that is, to theatricality and performativity. It is our contention that the drama text includes a constituting performative factor that involves a co-performance by both actors and spectators.
This entails a break with, as Hans-Thies Lehmann expressed it in his study Postdramatic Theatre, the idea that ‘Theatre and drama have existed, and still exist, in a relationship of tension-ridden contradictions.’ The article provides an analytical, historical investigation of methodological approaches to the drama analysis as study field and examines how drama analysis came to be regarded as a literary discipline that rarely considers aspects of performance and the material, scenic context for which the play was written, thus becoming regarded as being distinct from theatre and performance studies. This approach, which has its roots in nineteenth century dramaturgy, effectively eliminated the spectator from its perspective in favour of a character and plot centred dramaturgy. It is the authors’ assertion that the drama text and theatrical performance should nevertheless be regarded as intrinsically interconnected and that the spectator must be “re-inserted” in the drama text. The authors explore how we might re-think the field of dramaturgy and drama analysis by emphasizing the corporeal, spatial, performative and cognitive aspects of the drama text together with a minding of the historical and scenic context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Theatre Studies
Pages (from-to)22-39
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Theories on / of Dramaturgy

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