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Dramaturgy/Criticism FAQ

Do you get to do dramaturgy at DePaul or is dramaturgy something you just study?

Dramaturgy is definitely something we do here at DePaul. Our classes focus on what you should or could do to help a production grow, helping you organize your thoughts and develop your own way of working. You then have production practices where you will get to work on shows and try your ideas out. The blend of classes and hands-on practice helps you develop your own style and dramaturgical philosophy, build a resume and portfolio, and do a lot more than just learn about dramaturgy.

What does a dramaturg do?

Dramaturgs do a lot more than Xerox, do research, and stay in the library... We get to participate in all aspects of the production—from the design meetings to auditions to rehearsals and performances. We collaborate and discuss the production with everyone involved, build walls of dramaturgy (large idea/research boards), moderate post-show discussions, write study guides, create actor packets, cut plays, curate lobby displays/pre-show entertainment, write dramaturgy notes, and more.

Who teaches dramaturgy?

Everyone who teaches at The Theatre School is a working theatre artist and can talk about the profession and the work they have done. Nothing they tell you is just from a book. It’s really great. The Dramaturgy professors work in new-play development in Chicago and across the country, TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences), and write books and criticism pieces for online magazines like Slate. If you are interested in dramaturgy, you should definitely learn more about Rachel Shteir​, Head of Dramaturgy/Criticism.

What skills will I learn?

The main tasks of a dramaturg are discussing a play with an audience/playwright/production team and providing useful information to expand the play for the designers/actors/director/audience. We do a lot to develop our research, critical thinking, and writing skills through script analysis, studying dramatic theory, and exploring the history of dramatic literature.

What are production practices?

Because The Theatre School is a conservatory, any production you work on here is graded as part of your curriculum. You will always have shows to work on while you're here!

How are the production practices assigned?

Once the season is announced, we choose the plays we'd like to do (seniors have seniority) and then Rachel (head of Dramaturgy/Criticism) helps pair us up with the shows. Rachel works hard to have us work on shows we’re excited about. While you’re here you must do at least one Graduate Showcase and one Chicago Playworks (children's show) production. But know this: you can choose shows based on your interests…so, if you’re really into Theatre for Young Audiences, new plays, classical works, etc. there will be ample opportunity to get involved in that type of work.

What kind of internships will I be doing?

You have a lot of options, but many of us intern in a theatre’s literary management, dramaturgy, or new-play development department. Some of us spend time working with the education departments or editors at publishing houses. There’s a lot of flexibility, just be sure to speak to your advisor before committing to an internship. ​

I'm interested in theatre for young audiences. Does this program offer TYA-related classes and shows?

Yes! We have a great TYA production program called Chicago Playworks. As dramaturgs, we create the educational study guides and run the Ice Cream Social discussion. There are also TYA literature courses (TYA in the United States and International TYA).

I'm interested in new play development. What type of opportunities are there to work with playwrights?

We have a class that helps get us prepared to work with writers, New Play Dramaturgy, and we also have some cool school events like The Wrights of Spring (a festival of new plays written by DePaul playwrights) and the New Playwrights Series, a new play produced as part of our mainstage season each year. We also have a course called New Play Workshop, which you can take as a dramaturg or writer.

Do you graduate with a strong resume and portfolio?

Yes. Because you get to intern at great theatres in Chicago and around the country, work on a number of productions here at The Theatre School, and create your own dramaturgical materials including published program notes, the dramaturgs graduate with great resumes. And every fall we have Portfolio Day, which is when our work from the previous year is reviewed and we get personal letters that help us focus on specific new things for the current year. ​

What kind of job opportunities are there for dramaturgy graduates?

Dramaturgs spend a lot of time writing, analyzing, researching and helping connect ideas together. These skills translate into a lot of cool jobs. Dramaturgy students go on to be literary managers, production dramaturgs, write for magazines, theatre or arts critics, teachers, educational directors, arts administrators, artistic directors, casting directors, directors, playwrights, etc. Some dramaturgs even work as music/dance dramaturgs, develop new plays, or work for NPR… the possibilities are endless! ​

Does the Dramaturgy Department or The Theatre School help Seniors find jobs?

The Theatre School supports graduating seniors in a lot of ways, including a program called Graduate Showcase​. Any Theatre School senior in good standing can choose to participate. Showcase takes place in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. For non-actors, showcase includes a portfolio exhibition and opportunities to connect with regional theatres, production houses, and other arts related organizations. Our Showcase visits have included: Theatre Communications Group, Bret Adams, Ltd. (a theatrical agency), Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theatre, The Dramatists Guild, Sundance Theatre Institute, Disney Theme Parks division and Center Theater Group, among others.

Dramaturgy sounds cool, but I'm also interested in performance and/or design. Are there opportunities to learn about these aspects of production?

YES! At DePaul the dramaturg is involved in design meetings and participates in all aspects of production. As part of the Dramaturgy major, we take literature, design, directing, and performance classes which help make us well-rounded theatre artists able to contribute to all aspects of the production. ​