MA specialising in Dramaturgy

Dramaturgy has its roots in ancient Greece. The word first appears in Aristotle. Modern conceptions of Dramaturgy can be traced back to the work of Lessing and then Schiller and Goethe in Germany in the mid to late 18th century. The dramaturgical project was conceived as an attempt to make the theatre a serious and rigorous art form with strong classically established rules of making and it was tied to the nationalist project at the time. In the initial phase of development the dramaturgical project focused on creating a vibrant public discourse around the theatre; developing the notion of the experimental stage – a space for innovation; stressing the relationship between theory and practice. Brecht was the next major contributor to dramaturgy as a modern practice in the middle of the 20th century with his particular stress on context and relating the theatre to the particular political moment. As a result of this history, the dramaturge as professional practitioner was initially established in German theatre and then exported to other continental European contexts. The British theatre did not develop the role of the dramaturge within its production process although dramaturgy programmes were established at postgraduate level in the USA last century and the role of the dramaturge was established there in regional theatres particularly.


In South Africa the role of the dramaturge did not develop as part of the production process. This was probably because (a) our theatres were heavily influenced by the British system of production, and (b) the economics of theatre production in South Africa demanded a streamlined process with less role specialization.  As a result no training for dramaturges has ever been offered in South African higher education institutions. However, it can be argued that despite there being no specialized dramaturges there has always been dramaturgy at work in production processes in South Africa often carried out by directors and/or writers. In fact one could go so far as to argue that without dramaturgy there can be no making of performances.

New developments in dramaturgy internationally have seen the rise of what is now called ‘new dramaturgy’ operating across the whole sphere of the performing arts from theatre to dance, to opera and to other forms of live art. This new dramaturgy is influenced by three factors: a more process based or conscious approach; an intercultural and globalized post-national context; post-dramatic and post-mimetic forms of performance and production. Increasingly performance makers are working outside the confines of the literary script, in interdisciplinary making processes and in contexts that require an understanding of different cultures and traditions. Practices in the field are increasingly moving towards international collaboration, festivals and performance venues play host to artists and groups from across the world, and dramaturges are required to be familiar not only with their own context but to mediate and translate across a broad range of cultural contexts and artistic spheres.

The MA programme  specialising in Dramaturgy seeks to respond to the needs of these dynamic changes and in turn to play a critical role in the educational formation of new dramaturges and performance curators able to operate and to mediate in the spaces between Africa and the rest of the world.


  • In-depth understanding of Dramaturgy as a mode of practice in theatre and performance making.
  • Increased capacity for cultural interpretation and translation, adaptation and mediation within the context of work in experimental small-scale production processes or in international theatre and performance contexts.
  • Understanding of and ability to work in a wide range of international, cross-cultural contexts.
  • A basic understanding of cultural policy issues impacting on dramaturgical work in international contexts.
  • Understanding of archiving for the performing arts and capacity to establish and curate archives.
  • Developed research skills and capacities both for theatre and performance production processes and in academic contexts.
  • Hands on work experience in an existing organisation.



The general rules for Masters Degrees will apply. In addition the following specific rules will apply.

Admission Requirements:

An Honours degree in Drama, or a four-year degree of Honours equivalence, or in the absence of Drama Honours, the candidate shall staisfy the Head of Department that her/his experience/expertise/alternative degree(s) are equivalent.


The closing date for applications is 31 March of the year of first registration. Only in special circusmtances, at the discretion of the Head of Department, will a late application be considered. The applicant shall submit with the application, a portfolio of recent work and research dissertation proposal and will be required to attend an interview with a representative of the department.


Selection is at the discretion of the Head of the Department and will be based on previous academic record, on the interview, the portfolio of work submitted and dissertation proposal and the availability of a suitable supervisor and Master’s group.


In order to qualify for the degree students must complete the following courses:

DOH5002S Dramaturgy Core Course (Semester Abroad Amsterdam) (48 NQF credits)

DRM5023S Dramaturgy Studio (48 NQF credits)

DRM5018W Research Project (96 NQF credits)

And an internship for three months (carries no degree credit and attracts no fees but students will be awarded a PA on successful completion which will be required for graduation)

Period of registration:

The programme would begin in July of each year (semester 1). Students will begin with an orientation at UCT in August and then travel to Amsterdam in September for their first semester along with Amsterdam students. Students will then return to Cape Town with Amsterdam students in February (semester 2) to complete their coursework. The internship and dissertation project will then be completed in the home institution in semesters 3 & 4. Students would then graduate in June of year three.

Note: the exchange semester in Amsterdam (UVA) is an integral part of the programme. Students will not be allowed to register for the programme if they are unable or unwilling to spend the first semester of the programme at UVA.


  • The coursework component and the research project shall each count for 50% of the final mark.
  • In order to pass and qualify for the degree, candidates must obtain 50% in both coursework and examination.
  • The degree shall be conferred with distinction if the candidate has obtained an average of 75% overall for the degree (coursework and research) and has obtained at least 70% in each component individually.
  • The dissertation (research project and written explication) shall be passed with distinction if it receives a mark of 75% or higher.