Art of Active Dramaturgy

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Focus Item #: 03515
Author(s): Lenora Inez Brown
ISBN-13: 978-1-58510-351-5
Format: Paperback
pp: 230


To purchase a copy of Art of Active Dramaturgy please visit the Hackett Publishing Company website,

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The Art of Dramaturgy is a transformative approach to dramaturgical thinking and collaboration. Each chapter includes ways to approach so-called old plays or set texts (think Shakespeare or Pinter or Parks) and then takes it up a notch to show how to use those skills when working on new plays.


While covering the process of dramaturgy for standard plays, it also features full coverage of dramaturgy in a new play process.


Courses in dramaturgy, taught in departments of theater offering degrees in theater. In many departments the course may yet be well formed, so it could be taught as part of the directing sequence, playwrighting, or script analysis.

About the Author

Lenora Inez Brown is the author of The Art of Active Dramaturgy: Transforming Critical Thought into Dramatic Action. In addition to this text, she has authored numerous articles, essays, and chapters in texts focused on dramaturgy and dramatic criticism. She is a former Head of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at The Theatre School, DePaul University. She has served as a dramaturg at numerous new-play workshops and festivals including The Sundance Theatre Labs 2000 and 2001, South Coast Repertory’s The Pacific Playwrights Festival, The Goodman Theatre’s New Stages Series, The Bonderman Festival at Indiana Repertory Theatre, and New Visions/New Voices at The Kennedy Center. She helped initiate Madison Rep’s new play festival, which included the premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. She was the Director of New Plays at the 1999 Tony Award® regional theatre Crossroad Theatre Company and the cdramaturg for the 1999 Tony® nominated musical It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues. She continues to develop new work with MPAACT in Chicago and other theatre companies focused on new work. She is a past president of Theatre for Young Audience/USA. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama. For more information on Lenora please visit


"This is the first real text, the first real primer for how to be a dramaturg in a variety of settings—from production to new plays. It takes a student from a close reading (really directing that reading) to formulating questions, to meeting with directors, playwrights, designers, to formulating acting packets and finally to opening night. I don't think any other book on the market does such a complete job with such research and in such a great format." —Mark Charney, Clemson University

"In this valuable new book Brown builds upon the practice of existing professional dramaturgs across the United States by clarifying how a dramaturg can play an active role in the development and creation of a production for the stage. Brown’s book demonstrates how at every phase of the production process the dramaturg can play a significant role in transforming “heady ideas” into stage language and action that the other collaborators—directors, playwrights, actors, designers­—can deploy in their creative explorations. The Art of Active Dramaturgy is a useful tool for those at a formative stage as a dramaturg learning a set of skills and for those unfamiliar with the complexity of the dramaturg’s process and her potential impact on the artistic event being created." —Mark Bly, Senior Dramaturg, Alley Theatre

"The Art of Active Dramaturgy serves a truly useful function in introducing newcomers to the work of a dramaturg and offering ways for a student or anyone new to the practice a pathway towards tackling the role with confidence and a strong set of tools. But beyond that, it also takes what is often a murky and abstract set of tasks and outlines them with great clarity and through actionable steps, yet in a way that never simplifies or codifies the mysterious nature of art making. I will recommend this book to students but will also use it in my own practice—in training young emerging dramaturgs who work in our department as interns, but also in refreshing and focusing my own approach to reading new plays and working with playwrights on advancing their work." —Tanya Palmer, Director of New Play Development, Goodman Theatre

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