In the play ROUGH MAGIC by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the protagonist is a dramaturg. On a blind date she starts to describe her job and stops herself saying something like ‘its complicated and doesn’t matter.’ I turned to my friend and started laughing. On almost a daily bases I’m asked what it is exactly that I do. Other people tell me ‘oh, I know what a dramaturg is.’ When I get that response I must admit I start to question them, I want a straightforward answer!
On playwright Adam Symkowicz blog he posted an essay that was printed in the Playwrights Horizon brochure by dramaturg Adam Greenfield. He takes a look at that question that I’m assuming he gets asked as frequently as I. Here is a little of what he has to say:
… At his or her core, a dramaturg seeks to ensure that the stories selected for the stage in a given season are being told as effectively, according to the playwrights’ intents, as possible. The greatest ally, one hopes, of Playwright, Director, and Producer, a dramaturg is a shape-shifter, keeping a watchful eye on how the story lands on an audience. But every play operates according to its own unique system of rules, and every project evolves according to its own unique process, so the dramaturg is forced to be enormously flexible, changing the manner in which he or she works according to the varying dictates of each day. Perhaps this is the reason a dramaturg’s role in the process is so hard to pin down. Any dramaturg will have coined a different metaphor for their role in rehearsals. Depending on the play’s needs, you’re asked to be an atlas, a glossary, a muse, a mediator, an editor, a biographer, an historian, a therapist, a fascist dictator, a court jester, a philosopher, a watchdog. (emphasis mine)
Yeah, that is what I would say. Read the full essay here and maybe you will understand what I do a little bit more.