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Text. Context. Meaning.


Playwright-director Steve H. Broadnax III's production depicted the experience of American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. 

For the production, Arushi assisted dramaturg Jeanmarie Higgins with archival work, new play development, the creation of a lobby display, and community outreach. 

At right, Reggie D. White and the cast of "Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland". (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)


Director Jennifer Delac's production of Lerner and Loewe's 1947 musical highlights how we endure suffering, the fallibility of utopia, and the power of community. 

For the production, dramaturg Arushi produced: 

  • A dramaturgy research packet for the cast and production team

  • A cabaret to connect the community with the power of Golden Age musical theatre

  • A program note 

  • A lobby display 

  • A modern songwriting initiative, including the writing of a song and holding of a songwriting workshop

  • A panel, Dramaturgy at Penn State, exploring the discipline and its history at the university

  • A pre-show Ceilidh lobby dance 

  • A dramaturgy website to connect the cast, production team, and audiences with the dramaturgy effort

  • Two post-show talkbacks to enrich audience's experience of the work in this moment in time

(Photo credit: Anthony Jefferson)


Director Mary Rose Valentine's production of Shakespeare's "most perfect comedy", in the words of Dr. Garrett A. Sullivan, integrated the songs of ABBA to make a jukebox musical in the style of Mamma Mia! 

For the production, dramaturg Arushi produced:

  • A program note, as well as a community "gaylist" to celebrate queer identity and expression within the State College area. 


Directors Jeanmarie Higgins and Michele Dunleavy's production of Harold Pinter's 1988 play focuses on the experience of the women waiting in line to see the prison, adding a lengthy prologue to the short play. 

For the production, co-dramaturg Arushi produced: 

  • A dramaturgy research packet, in collaboration with her co-dramaturgs—Mary Rose Valentine and Jonathan P. Eburne—for the cast and production team.

  • A program note, in collaboration with co-dramaturg Jonathan P. Eburne

  • A dramaturgy website, collecting experiences from the cast and production team of the process while working on the production

  • A post-show talkback with artists from the production 


Director Sam Osheroff's avant-garde production of William Shakespeare's classic comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, creates an immersive and chaotic world of fairies, mischief, and magic, in Penn State Centre Stage's Pavilion Theatre, a thrust stage. 

For the production, dramaturg Arushi Grover produced: 


Director Jennifer Delac's production of Jason Robert Brown's heartbreaking depiction of the meeting, marriage, and dissolution of a couple sets the musical, The Last Five Years, during the COVID-19 pandemic, painting a picture of grief, loss, forgiveness, and redemption.

For the production, dramaturgy Arushi Grover produced:

Dramaturgy: Work

What is dramaturgy?

A dramaturg is a member of the artistic or production team on a theatrical production that works with the text, context, and meaning of a production.  A dramaturgy offers analysis of dramatic literature, research to help “transform that inert script into a living piece of theater”, and practical application in connecting the work with a live audience in a time and place (Chemers 3). 

Materially, a dramaturg may offer a production a packet of contextual research (as in cultural, historical, literary, theatrical) to aid the cast and production team’s understanding of the text, a program note, discussion with the director on the dramaturg’s perspective of the evolving piece in rehearsals, and various outreach initiatives to connect the work with its audience (such as lobby displays, outreach events, and pre- and post-show talkbacks.) Philosophically, professional dramaturg Mark Bly says that, “[W]hen pressed for a definition of what it is that I do as a dramaturg, both in a rehearsal hall and in the theater at large, I generally answer ‘I question’” (Chemers 9). Dramaturgs may be seen as straddling the scholarly and practical theatrical worlds. 

Source: Chemers, Michael M. Ghost Light: An Introductory Handbook for Dramaturgy. Carbondale, Southern Illinois UP, 2010.

Dramaturgy: Text
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