What is a dramaturg?

New York Theater

A dramaturg is a murderer in “Icarus,” the episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” in which everybody thinks Cynthia Nixon playing a Julie Taymor-like figure was the perpetrator.  A dramaturg is a handsome man who lives in a very expensive New York apartment but who hurts the now-scarfless Debra Messing’s feelings in “The Dramaturg,” the latest episode of “Smash.” “Dramaturgs are like dentists,” he tells her.  “No one wants to see them but you’re glad you went once the pain wears off.”

But what is a dramaturg on stage rather than on the small screen? Script-doctor (rather than script dentist), program-writer, literary manager, historical consultant, mediator, play developer…in other words, it depends.

In Dramaturgy 101 in the Educational Theatre Association, Amy Steele writes:

Some dramaturgs say they are literary and historical consultants who work with directors, designers, and actors to make an artistic vision a reality. Others reply that…

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