Dramaturgical Research



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This summer, I conducted dramaturgical research on the plays Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare for the Houston Shakespeare. Dramaturgical work consists of researching elements of the play, such as historical elements of the play and past productions that the director feels are vital to the actor’s understanding of the play and of the vision for this particular production. In a discussion with the director and the other dramaturg, we came up with a series of research topics that felt important for our productions. For Hamlet, a big topic I was assigned to was the history of women playing the role of Hamlet, as we had an incredible actress taking on the role in our production. Other topics included religion and the supernatural and murder, suicide and death, particularly pertaining to Elizabethan experiences with these topics and how that is evident in the text. For The Comedy of Errors, my topics included expectations of Elizabethan marriages and the mythology of witches and mermaids in the Elizabethan era. To better understand these topics, I first consulted well-respected editions of the full Shakespeare text, such as the Arden, Oxford, and Folger editions, and read the footnotes and references pages to find reliable scholarly articles to consult. I also consulted essays and articles written for and about other productions of the plays to understand what the topics meant in context. Dramaturgical research is essential in building a cohesive world within the play while remaining true to the original intent of the play. Further, our productions had a relatively short rehearsal period. Cohesive and relevant dramaturgical research helped the actors understand the production without having to rely on researching on their own, making this research an essential part of the early rehearsal process.