About dramaturgy

The practice of dramaturgy is a way of seeing. It encourages critical thinking, dynamics among perspectives, contemporaneity and contextualisation. It creates global cultural and historical discourse that encourages dialogue not only among artists and creative teams, but also among spectators and art citizens as a whole.

Dramaturgy is also a way of working. It embraces collaboration, communication, understanding, research and analysis, rigour and discipline. A dramaturgical approach to performance making facilitates the pursuit of artistry with craftsmanship and depth.
Historically, dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on stage.

The term was coined by German dramatist and critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in his influential book Hamburg Dramaturgy written during his terms of office as the world’s very first dramaturg at the Hamburg National Theatre. It is a unique practice distinct from the disciplines of playwriting, directing or stage design, which can be defined as an expertise in shaping a story or materials into a form of performance by giving the work a contextual structure or understructure.

About the programme

As the lines continue to blur between contemporary art forms, dramaturgy has become a critical component in contemporary performance making. As artists continue to push the bounds of their artistic process, we need to look into tools and processes that can facilitate their research, production development and performance.

In the last decade there has been an increasing number of publications, conferences and networks on dramaturgy in North America, Europe and more recently also Asia. Over the same period, Hong Kong performing artists have also begun to integrate dramaturgical approaches into their performance making. It is therefore timely to enter into a deeper discussion and investigation of the function of dramaturgy in the practice of performance making. This cross-team effort between dance and theatre at West Kowloon, together with the School of Drama at HKAPA, also signals the increasing need to look at the practice of contemporary performance outside the silos of artistic disciplines.

The programme is aimed at dance and theatre professionals in Hong Kong and the Asian region, including choreographers, stage directors, playwrights, performing arts critics, interdisciplinary professionals, as well as students and graduates of other performing arts disciplines and social sciences.

In 2018, the programme looks at Production Dramaturgy, exploring the process of reading beyond the “text” to formulate discourse, contextualisation and contemporaneity. The schedule features workshops conducted by highly acclaimed international dramaturgs exploring the set of tools relevant to the investigation of production dramaturgy.

In 2019, the programme explores the role of dramaturgy in curating and festival making. How do we make transparent the process of curating thereby revealing the power dynamics between curators, artists and institutions? The workshops will be led by key curatorial figures in contemporary performance curation and thinking. Through an exploratory methodology, participants will get to work on and expand a proposed curatorial platform.

In 2020, the focus of the programme is the practice and work of participating artists and dramaturgs. A selection of participants from the previous two years will be mentored through their own projects in a dramaturgy practicum facilitated by experienced dramaturgs.