Acts of Dramaturgy (Book)

The Shakespeare Trilogy

Acts of Dramaturgy brings together three playtexts – The Beginning, The Middle and The End- in dialogue with essays from a range of contributors that reflect on their poetics, themes and concerns in relation to dramaturgy. Weaving together different modes of writing, The Trilogy reflects on the politics of dramaturgy, authorship, adaptation, text and performance in contemporary theatre. The manuscript is as much a reflection on the entanglements of processes, lineages and relations that have shaped the work and its reception, as it is an exploration of ways of reflecting and being with practice now.

Category: Performing Arts
Series: Playtext


Based on a recent touring project, the book explores a series of playtexts and essays that contextualise the themes and approaches of the work, serve as provocations for the Acts of Dramaturgy the work entailed, juxtapose new writing and performance writing, and problematise the notion of playtexts. This particular playtext title investigates the role of the dramaturg in contemporary performance, by analysing three performances inspired by the work of William Shakespeare. Taking as their starting point a stage direction or a moment in the narrative that is not the main focus, the playtexts recontextualises, deconstructs and disorientates the classic text within a landscape that is more polarised, free from the text and inherently and explicitly aware of its own theatricality. The work negotiates the ever-shifting relationship between the text and its performance, the performer(s) and their audience, whilst acknowledging that Shakespeare often employed a play-within-a-play as a device, what we now call a meta-theatrical mode of representation.

Michael Pinchbeck is a writer, live artist and theatre maker based in Nottingham, UK.


Act One: Shedding

  1. The Prologue: So Here We Are at the Beginning – Nicki Hobday
  2. The Foreword: The Time When Anything Could Happen – Maddy Costa
  3. The Prelude: The (Play)text Is the Set – Catherine Love

Act Two: Picking

  1. On Weaving: Acts of (Auto)dramaturgy – Michael Pinchbeck
  2. The Table Is Set… – Andy Smith
  3. The Playtext of The Beginning (2012) – Michael Pinchbeck

Act Three: Raveling

  1. The Interval – Michael Pinchbeck and Tony Pinchbeck
  2. ‘Something In Between’: Liminality, Ageing and The Middle – Mick Mangan
  3. The Playtext of The Middle (2013) – Michael Pinchbeck

Act Four: Battening

  1. Bear Necessity: The Means to The End – James Hudson
  2. And in The End… – Dani Abulhawa
  3. The Playtext of The End (2011) – Michael Pinchbeck

Act Five: Taking up

  1. The Sum of Its Parts: Memories of The Trilogy from an Inside/Outside Eye – Ollie Smith
  2. Endings Are Not Always Completed with a Full Stop – Rhiannon Jones
  3. The Epilogue: It’s Time to Call It a Day – Michael Pinchbeck
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