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The Structure of What Changes

Dark, then light. That’s dramaturgy.

So says the Dutch dramaturg Hildegaard de Vuyst, for whom dramaturgy is characterised by rhythm. To “time”, I would add “space”: the relationship between time and space being at the core of what makes a production work. But as de Vuyst so evocatively suggests, it is when something changes that we sit up and take notice.

Dramaturgy in production encompasses everything that might produce contrast: from scene length and how many characters there are on stage at any given time, to how much those characters affect one another and how they relate to the space. Dramaturgy describes the relationship of each element to the whole. Dramaturgy is structure; the structure of what changes. And once all the decisions that make up that production are in place, it becomes the scaffold that makes performance possible.

Zoëe Svendsen

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