Towards a Spectatorial Approach to Drama Analysis


  • Ulla Kallenbach
  • Annelis Kuhlmann Aarhus University



Dramaturgy, Drama analysis, Performativity, The implied spectator, Scenic writing


In recent years, the concept of dramaturgy has been expanded to include a wide range of new fields that rarely concern the analysis of the drama text itself, but rather the facilitation of creative processes. This article investigates dramaturgy as an analytical practice. The article provides an analytical, historical investigation of methodological approaches to drama analysis. The aim is to examine how drama analysis came to be regarded as a literary discipline that rarely considers aspects of performance and the material, scenic context for which the play was written. The study of drama thus became regarded as being distinct from theatre and performance studies. This approach, which has its roots in nineteenth century dramaturgy, effectively eliminated the spectator from its perspective in favour of a character and plot centred dramaturgy. It is the authors’ assertion that the drama text and theatrical performance should, nevertheless, be regarded as intrinsically interconnected and that the spectator must be “re-inserted” in the analysis of the written drama. The authors explore how we might re-think the field of dramaturgy as drama analysis by emphasizing the corporeal, spatial, performative, and cognitive aspects of the drama text together with an emphasis on the historical and scenic context.

Author Biographies

Ulla Kallenbach

Ulla Kallenbach, PhD, is a researcher of imagination and dramaturgy. Her research has two main perspectives: 1) a philosophic perspective informed by the history of ideas and 2) a scenic perspective exploring the performativity of the text and the point of view of the spectator. Her monograph, The Theatre of Imagining – A Cultural History of Imagination in the Mind and on the Stage was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. Other publications include stage/page/play: Interdisciplinary approaches to theatre and theatricality (edited with Anna Lawaetz, 2016). She is steering committee member of the Centre for Historical Performance Practice (CHiPP), Aarhus University.

Annelis Kuhlmann, Aarhus University

Annelis Kuhlmann, Associate Professor, PhD in Dramaturgy, Aarhus University, Denmark. Her dissertation Constantin Stanislavsky’s Theatre Concepts (1997) is based on studies in the Stanislavsky Archives in Moscow. Her current research has focus on The Paradox of the Theatre Director. She has published extensively on the work of Odin Teatret, lately with Dr Adam Ledger in vol 5 of The Great European Stage Directors (2018). She is president of Centre for Theatre Laboratory Studies (CTLS) as well as for Centre for Historical Performance Practice (CHiPP). Co-editing with Ulla an upcoming book on Dramaturgy (Aarhus University Press).


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How to Cite

Kallenbach, U., & Kuhlmann, A. (2019). Towards a Spectatorial Approach to Drama Analysis. Nordic Theatre Studies, 30(2), 22–39.



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