Dramaturgy Essay Checker

– Jonas, Susan and Proehl, Geoff. Preface to Dramaturgy in American Theatre: A Source Book. Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997.

“If you consult a dictionary, the meaning of the word ‘dramaturgy’ you find there is ‘the craft or the techniques of dramatic composition considered collectively,’ and a ‘dramaturg’ is defined simply as ‘a dramatist or playwright.’ Now we know that a playwright is a ‘maker’ or ‘worker’ of plays, not merely a writer of them (as a shipwright is a maker of ships and a wainwright a maker of wagons). This meaning of ‘playwright’ is reinforced by the Greek work dramaturgy (and its back formation dramaturg), which is made up of the root for “action or doing” (drame) and the suffix for ‘process or working’ (-urgy). Here we may helpfully think of the words ‘metallurgy’ – the working of metal – and ‘thaumaturgy’ – the working of miracles.

– Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005. p. 3.

“Broadly speaking, the dramaturg’s duties are (1) to select and prepare play-texts for performance; (2) to advise directors and actors; and (3) to educate the audience. To fulfill these duties, dramaturgs serve as script readers, translators, theatre historians, play adaptors or even playwrights, directorial assistants or sometimes apprentice directors, critics of works-in-progress and talent scouts.”

– Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005. pp 3–4.

“After selecting a play for production in collaboration with his theatre’s artistic director, the resident dramaturg prepares the text for performance by translating or editing it, researching the play’s production history if it has one, and collaborating with its director on textual interpretation. If a play is new and the playwright is present at rehearsals, the dramaturg discusses cuts, rewrites, and the reordering of scenes with the author. Dramaturgical preparation of a classic need not be entirely different from collaboration on a new play. Research into the production history, textual variants, and sociopolitical background of a classic can increase the accuracy with which a past playwright’s language, stage conventions, and world view are realized onstage, if the director wants his work to be true to the original text. However, an old text can also be turned into a ‘new’ one – that is, invested with a contemporaneity of language (through a new translation or adaptation), a topical ‘concept’ (more on this later) and/or a novel staging.

Dramaturgs assist as well in the casting of the play, and during rehearsals they offer in-house criticism of productions-in-progress for the benefit of cast, director and dramatist. To inform the director, the cast and the audience about a play’s past history and its current importance, dramaturgs assemble ‘protocols’ (or casebooks consisting of written and found materials toward a theatrical production), prepare program notes, lead post-production discussions, write study guides for schools and groups, lecture in the community as well as the academy, and publish scholarly essays and books. Through collaboration with a resident dramaturg/in-house critic, then, the director is able to integrate textual and acting criticism, performance theory, and historical research into a production beforeit opens, instead of simply receiving post-mortems afterwards from journalists and avid theatergoers.

– Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005. p. 4.

“Dramaturgy is a vital idea. Its general definition encompasses almost the whole of theatrical activity, but in the context of what dramaturgs do, dramaturgy is a comprehensive exploration of the context in which the play resides. The dramaturg is the resident expert on the physical, social, political, and economic milieus in which the action takes place, the psychological underpinnings of the characters, the various metaphorical expressions in the play of thematic concerns; as well as on the technical consideration of the play as a piece of writing: structure, rhythm, flow, even individual word choices.

There are different sort of dramaturgs, with varying responsibilities, though few dramaturgs are of a pure type; most overlap categories. The institutional dramaturgs help find and select plays to be produced, while the education dramaturg prepares activities and materials for school group and leads audience discussions.

–  Terry McCabe. Mis-Directing the Play: An Argument Against Contemporary Theatre. p. 64.

Dramaturgy and Liberal Arts

“Although the best means to provide a liberal arts education has always been and should always be a matter for heated debate, the assumption of its value remains an article of faith in higher education. In the main, we continue to agree that the best preparation for all pursuits – personal and professional – is well-rounded education that introduces students to a variety of disciplines and fosters familiarity with a broad canon of ideas and contexts, as well as critical and associative thinking. The foundation we help lay is like an exercise program meant to get the mind in shape for life-long learning. Liberals arts pedagogy teaches curiosity, the delight of learning for its own sake, the ability to recognize and desire to seize the infinite opportunities to pursue knowledge. Our aspiration is to have our students graduate with the realization of how much more there is to know and how capable they are of learning….[The] trend toward specialization is relatively recent in the scheme of theatre history. One need only think of Sophocles, Moliere, and Shakespeare to remember that it was expected that they combine abilities in acting, writing, directing, dramaturgy, producing, and public relations. Even now, unable to find their niche in the extant theater world, artists such as Spalding Grey, John Leguizamo, Anna Deavere Smith, and Claudia Schear have become viable by adding to their performance skills other skills in playwriting, dramaturgy, directing, and producing. These solo performance artists have refined the mainstream by becoming ‘people of the theater.’ Their routes suggest a new feasible model for empowerment through multidisciplinary training, the centerpiece of which is dramaturgy.For the best of reasons and the worst – progressive and financial considerations – interdisciplinary learning is the wave of the future. In this, theater can look to its most ancient traditions to find its path to the forefront. And at the zenith of its already interdisciplinary nature is dramaturgy.”

– Jonas, Susan and Proehl, Geoff. Preface to Dramaturgy in American Theatre: A Source Book. Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997. 

Institutional Dramaturgy

The main role of the institutional dramaturg is to read and evaluate new scripts for possible production. The resident dramaturg works closely with the artistic director (and in many instances, he/she is the artistic director of the theatre) designing the season, and evaluating any potential new scripts as to their suitability for performance in the particular venue.

“John Lahr, not the theatre critic for The New Yorker, reports that his job at the Guthrie in the 1950s and early 1960s was primarily to bring new plays to the theatre and do the program notes. Later, however, when he was literary manager under Jules Irving at Lincoln Venter, he did what he calls the ‘more satisfactory work’ of collaborating with directors in rehearsal, writing lyrics for new songs in some plays, adapting such classics as Moliere’s The Misanthrope, and performing general advisory work, in addition to writing program notes and bringing new plays like Pinter’s Landscape and Silence to the theatre.”

– Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005. p. 5.

“Not only do the plays have to be selected, but they have to be selected to suit the character of the particular company, providing a fair share of good parts for all the principal actors. . . . The working out of the very complex casting rosters in companies that may be playing in two different houses at the same time, while often keeping a road company touring in neighboring, smaller cities, demands great ingenuity in adjusting the repertoire, planning rehearsals for understudies, etc. . . . [In the dramaturgy department also] the repertoire is carefully planned to provide a balanced diet [of classics and new plays, both foreign and domestic] for the requirements of the public of the city served by the theatre in question.”

– Martin Esslin, in Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005. p. 5.

Resident Dramaturg/Literary Manager – Responsibilities:

  1. Perform all duties of the production dramaturg as needed or as outlined in job description.
  2. Serve as Literary Manager if outlined in job description (these two jobs are often combined). The Literary Manager has the following tasks:
    1. Read and report on all scripts submitted by playwrights.
    2. Make recommendations of scripts to the artistic director for production.
    3. If the company has a play development program, the Literary Manager will oversee this program, including workshops, public readings, and any other form of support for the playwright’s process in developing a new script.
    4. Season planning.
  3. Provide supervision of the public assertion as it reflects the theatre’s repertoire and aesthetics, making sure it is within the institution’s goal, vision, and approach.
  4. If the institution has no mission statement, create one that encompasses the direction and voice important to the theatre. Be sure that all productions fulfill the mission statement.
  5. Aid in season planning based on the institution’s goals, visions, and mission statement.
  6. Plan and execute any form of audience outreach necessary. Participate in all post-play discussions.
  7. Write any grants when necessary.
  8. Advise the marketing team.
  9. Work with the education staff        .
  10. Provide input on press releases.

“The responsibilities of dramaturg vary from one theater company to the next, but they typically include the hiring of actors, the development of a season of plays with a sense of the coherence among them, the assistance with and editing of new plays by resident or guest playwrights, the creation of programs or accompanying educational services, and even helping the director with rehearsals, and serving as elucidator of history or spokesperson for deceased or otherwise absent playwrights.”

“The dramaturg locates and translates worthy scripts from other languages, writes articles and makes media appearances promoting shows and community programs, and helps develop original scripts.

Despite intimate connection with all aspects of play selection, production, and performance, the dramaturg remains independent, keeping a critical eye on the company’s creative activities, working to improve and maintain high quality.”

– Wikipedia

Production Dramaturgy

Most large theatres in the U.S. have a resident dramaturg, who works closely with the directors on each production. The role of the production dramaturg is to serve the director with pre-production research on the playwright and the historical context of the story. The dramaturg prepares reading and visual materials for the actors and assists them with any research related to their roles. Sometimes the dramaturg prepares a display with various images that he or she and the director have agreed to share with the actors. During the rehearsal process, drawing on his or her in-depth knowledge of the script, the dramaturg ensures the integrity of the production, providing production notes that help to facilitate the director’s artistic vision. The dramaturg also writes program notes and often leads post-show discussions. The production dramaturg is integral to the artistic process and receives full credit for his or her contribution as a collaborator (program bio, academic credit, etc.). Since the primary role of the dramaturg is to serve the director, the extent of the dramaturg’s responsibilities depends on the individual director’s needs and can vary for each production. The following guidelines outline the typical range of dramaturgical responsibilities.


  1. Dramaturg works closely with the Director and Playwright.
  2. Prepares texts as needed. This includes the following:
    1. Translating as needed.
    2. Revising/ editing scripts as needed.
    3. Adapting non-theatrical text into a script if needed.
  3. Does all research for the production. This can include the following:
    1. Making a vocabulary list, including definitions of any ambiguous phrases, societal/time period references.
    2. Finding character name meanings. If they are historical or real people, researching them as well.
    3. Researching any previous productions of the play, including reviews, criticism, and theory of the performances.
    4. If it is a new play, and the playwright will not be involved in the rehearsal process, compiling a list of questions to ask the playwright either in person or in writing.
    5. Creating a timeline of important events of the time period of the setting of the play, and the time when the play was written (if different).
    6. Compiling images or any other type of appropriate structural analysis for the play.
    7. Writing or finding an appropriate biography of the playwright.
    8. Compiling any sensory media which could help define the world of the play (i.e., photographs, music, smells, artwork)       
  4. Creating packets for the cast and production company including:
    1. All research information.
    2. A reference page (including online references that would be easy for the cast/crew to access).
    3. Custom charts or graphs, which illustrate the progression of action, the activity of individual characters, the events of the play, and any other elements of action for the play.
  5. Preparing and presenting a short but lively presentation for the cast and crew.
  6. Being prepared to answer any and all questions that might arise.

DRAMATURG’S PROTOCOL is “a five-part pre-production study of a play – together with a glossary of the text, for the information of the director and possibly the rest of the company. The parts consist of (a) the historical, cultural, and social background of the play; (b) relevant biographical information concerning the playwright, plus a history of the writing of the play and an assessment of its place in the author’s oeuvre; (c) a critical and production history of the play, including a report on the textual problems (if any) of the original and an assessment of the major translations (if the play was written in a language other than English); (d) a comprehensive critical analysis of the play, including the dramaturg’s suggestions for a directorial-design concept for a new production; and (e) a comprehensive bibliography of materials on the play: editions, essays, articles, reviews, interviews, recordings, films, video tapes, etc.”

– Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005. p. 14.


  1. The Dramaturg attends at least one third of production rehearsals.
    1. Attends the first read-through and as many run-throughs as possible.
  2. Sits next to the Director and is prepared to ask and answer any questions.
  3. Observes the rehearsals, being certain to notice character and world of the play consistency.
  4. Writes and revises program notes.
  5. Plans lobby displays.
  6. Prepares for audience outreach, if necessary.
  7. Takes notes as needed.
  8. Is prepared to answer any and all questions that might arise.


  1. Plans and executes audience talkback sessions.
  2. Is prepared to answer any and all questions that might arise.

American and European Dramaturgy


“In Germany, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Netherlands dramaturgs and literary managers are a lynchpin of mainstream, state-funded theatre, and have been officially employed for well over two centuries. Playreaders, advisers on the repertoire and textural, critical and practical experts working in partnerships with directors and/or writers are accepted as an integral part of theatre-making.”

– Luckhurst, Mary. Dramaturgy: A Revolution in Theatre. Cambridge U. Press, 2006, 1.

“[In Europe], the dramaturg’s position has frequently been a transitional phase of his life in the theatre; a young playwright or critic often served as dramaturg while writing essays and plays less remunerative than script reading and rehearsal watching. Perhaps, then, the dramaturg’s work should be regarded not as an end in itself but as part of a collaborative creation, and a source of training for future play directors, artistic directors, playwrights, and critics.”

– Cardullo, Bert. What is Dramaturgy? New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005, 8.


“Advances in American theory and practice since the 1960 mean that dramaturgy and literary management are now embedded both in subsidized theatre and as recognized disciplines in academic curriculum.”

– Luckhurst, Mary. Dramaturgy: A Revolution in Theatre. Cambridge U. Press, 2006, 1.

“[In America], the profession itself is only as old – or as young – as the regional theatre movement, some thirty years. . . . At first, dramaturgs and literary managers were culled from scholars and critics, but as the profession took root, and the dramaturg became a familiar presence in the rehearsal hall, training programs evolved that groomed professionals in the history, theory, criticism and practice of theatre. . . . Dramaturgs assisted artistic directors in selecting plays for the season, drawing from their extensive knowledge of international plays, and ability to commission or render lively American translations. Directors, who now often had the overwhelming task of mounting four-hour Shakespearean tragedy in three and a half weeks of rehearsal, often working with strangers in an unfamiliar town, now had the support of dramaturgs, who provided research, constructive criticism, and collaboration.”

– Jonas, Susan and Proehl, Geoff. Preface to Dramaturgy in American Theatre: A Source Book. Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997.

Notes on Essay Writing

Analytical Essays

Dramaturgical Essays

Theatre Review

The Essay Writing Process

Assignment Pitfalls


General Note on Essays

All essays share one thing in common: they are written for a purpose. However, essays can be written for different purposes, so they can also have very different features. Considering why you are writing an essay will help you determine how to produce a good essay. You should therefore always consider the reasons why you are being asked to write an essay before you begin developing your arguments.

It might be tempting to think that the only reason you are writing an essay is to get a grade that will enable you to pass your course. However, you are likely to lose many opportunities to advance your learning and communication skills if this is the only reason you can find to write essays. When you are given an assignment topic or question, you are being offered an opportunity to learn more about a particular subject related to the course you are studying. The assignment topics or questions set by your teachers are carefully designed to focus your attention to important elements associated with the study of drama, theatre and performance. A number of elements you will be asked to consider will also require you to develop new ways of thinking about various subjects. Two key areas you will continue to reflect upon throughout the course of your studies are:


The Social Significance of Plays you Study

As historical circumstances and cultural developments influence the writing, production and reception of plays and performances, the social significance of any play is essential to interrogate if you wish to understand all the features of plays you are studying. This type of study may require you to research a range of social and historical concepts, events, developments and phenomena that appear to be extraneous or external to the play itself. For example,

  • You may be asked to investigate the political systems and conflicts during an era in which plays were written and to consider how they impacted upon the creation of a particular style of play. Eg. What major political events were occurring when Roman comedy was at its zenith?
  • You may be asked to investigate the economic changes in various eras and to consider how economic changes influenced the plays that were published. Eg. Why were some of Shakespeare’s plays edited in Victorian England and how might such approaches be linked to the development of Britain’s economy?
  • You may be asked to investigate the era in which plays were produced and to compare material conditions of audiences today to those of audiences in the era in which a play was written. Eg. Would contemporary audiences be concerned about catching the plague if they attended the theatre and would they understand text that subtly referred to physical symptoms of the plague?


The Performance Significance of Plays you Study

Written forms of plays are often recognised as the permanent records of dramas while performances of plays are recognised as ephemeral activities that are difficult to record. While the construction of plays and performances are two separate crafts, the performance of a play is ultimately the only way to test whether or not a play actually works for an audience and the elements of a performance that support a production of a play are essential to consider and distinguish from the play. While practical activities in tutorials enable you to experiment with performance possibilities, the plays you will study have usually already been produced. Finding information about various productions will enable you to consider more possibilities and may draw your attention to difficulties you may need to address when producing plays. This kind of information also prompts you to consider the technical limitations and developments that have influenced the evolution of theatrical performances and why so many differences are evident in productions of the same play in different eras or cultures. Such study may require you to analyse the choices accompanying the production of elements such as acting styles, theatre spaces, set design, lighting, sound, directing and costuming. This kind of study may also require in depth analysis of reviews of performances or consideration of any particular edits or translations of texts used for a production. For example,

  • You may be asked to investigate the influence of electricity on lighting designs for theatres. Eg. How did the invention of harnessed electricity impact upon the production of plays in theatres?
  • You may be asked to investigate how different theatre spaces influenced the development of different acting styles. Eg. Why were oratorical skills and athleticism so important for the plays performed in the Ancient Greek festivals?
  • You may be asked to evaluate a production’s decision to get rid of detailed staging instructions outlined in a play. Eg. How would the total departure from the staging instructions in Ibsen’s play The Doll’s House influence the meanings generated in a production of this play?

Writing Essays:

Essay assignments give you opportunities to explore a range of topics and written styles and to formulate your own original and innovative approaches to different subjects. For example, if your essay question gives you scope to look at a number of different plays, try to avoid common or popular choices and look for ways of offering a view or analysis that is insightful or unusual. Your lecturer has probably read a million essays on Shakespearean comedies or analyses of well-known Australian plays like The Removalist or Blackrock so they will appreciate and respond to original ideas and innovative arguments you are able to develop and defend.

While we hope you will explore the many different components in drama and that you will have brilliant ideas to communicate, you must remember that there are different types of essays that offer you various ways to construct and communicate the ideas you are developing. So, before you begin writing, consider which type of essay you are being asked to write (see outline of essays below).


Websites: Books:

“Foundation Pages” section of The Academy: Literature and Drama Website

Essay Writing Center: essayinfo.com/

Basic Guide to Essay Writing: members.tripod.com/~lklivingston/essay/

Write an Essay: www.write-an-essay.com/

Anderson, Jonathan and Millicent Poole. Thesis and Assignment Writing. Brisbane: John Wiley & Sons, 1994.

Bate, Douglas and Peter Sharpe. Harcourt Brace Writer’s Handbook: For University Students. Sydney: Harcourt Brace, 1996.

Clanchy, John and Brigid Ballard. EssayWriting For Students: A Practical Guide.  Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1991.


Analytical Essays

There is always some degree of analysis involved in essay writing and most assignments develop your abilities to analyse and research. However, when you are asked to provide an analysis of a set play or topic, you are being asked for a particular type of essay. Analysis involved more than a description of a field of study and more than a list of your observations or a survey of observations made by others. Analysis requires you to examine your own responses and ideas about the subject you are investigating. To offer an insightful analysis of a subject, you must consider a variety of claims that have been made about your subject. To find the variety of claims, you MUST conduct research. Research is important because you will only be in a position to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the subject you are investigating when you have located a variety of information and opinions. As it is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of material and the range of resources available for research, students need to remember that they are researching a particular topic that is part of a large field of knowledge. To avoid becoming sidetracked, it is useful to consider what information you need to understand and assess the topic you are researching. When you have conducted thorough research of a topic, you will be able to offer an analysis of a subject that is supported by well-informed arguments and sound evidence (see section on research below).


An analytical essay offers your view.

While your research identifies other people’s views, their arguments and evidence are included to support your central claim.

An analytical essay can often include the following sections in various orders:

  • A summary or outline of the subject you are analysing
  • Your claim about the subject (a position that you have formed in response to your research and reading)
  • An analysis of assumptions that have been or could be made about the subject you are analysing
  • An analysis of any hidden or implied arguments associated with the subject you are analysing
  • An analysis of any contradictions – conflicting statements about the subject you are studying that are different to each other or to the responses you have had
  • An analysis of evidence that supports your claim
  • A summary that explains why your claim is more appealing than others


A sample assignment topic for an analytical essay:

The Medieval Play Everyman is described as a morality play. In a well-argued essay, identify at least three moral virtues included in the play and consider whether these virtues were likely to be developed by people in the era and culture in which the play was produced. Your essay should include references to the text and a detailed analysis of relevant social discourses and material conditions evident at the time of the play’s production.



Dramaturgical essays:

Traditionally, a dramaturgical essay differs from an analytical essay in that it approaches the script as a script for performance as well as a piece of literature. That is, this type of essay takes into account the performative elements of a play. A person writing a dramaturgical essay therefore has to be able to imagine and analyse elements that are used in a production of the play. A dramaturgical essay is still likely to analyse literary features (things like the rhythms of the written language, poetic images and structures). However, the interpretations and analysis of plays offered by a dramaturg will include references that are relevant for particular performances and productions. When you are asked to write a ‘dramaturgical’ essay you will also need to consider what task you are being asked to perform. Since there are many jobs and many types of analysis conducted in a theatre production, you will need to understand the specific aspect of a production you are expected to research, analyse or develop. To do this, you need to understand what is involved in dramaturgy.

Dramaturgy is a word used to collectively describe the arts and techniques used to analyse and produce theatre. Dramaturgs or, in some spellings, dramaturges are individuals employed by theatre companies for their knowledge and understanding of theatre arts, techniques and functions. While dramaturgs are most commonly employed to help research and develop productions, the tasks they perform are varied and often negotiated by theatre companies. Tasks can include:

  • Developing a ‘dramaturgical protocol’ which is a package of information for a production that offers relevant historical, social, performative, political or literary information
  • Providing literary advice to theatrical productions and playwrights (and sometimes film corporations)
  • Analysing, editing, adapting, translating or choosing translations of texts,
  • Offering support and feedback for new work
  • Collaborating with directors, designers and actors
  • Reading and evaluating scripts
  • Researching performance histories
  • Conducting close textual analyses of plays
  • Developing ‘concepts’ for a production
  • Researching, writing and designing theatre programmes
  • Locating promotional material for productions.


As dramaturgy is an evolving field, it is also a good idea to research the various roles and organizations that are associated with this activity before writing your essays (or accepting a contract with a theatre company!)

A sample topic for an assignment that requires a dramaturgical essay:

Queensland Theatre Company is mounting a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. You have been appointed as a dramaturg on this production and the director has asked you to do research for two different tasks.

  • Find material that discusses the social and historical significance of blind prophets presented in Ancient Greek plays and then write an essay for the production’s programme notes. Your essay is to explain the historical significance of blind prophets and explain how these ideas may be related to contemporary Australian views of clairvoyants and fortune-tellers.
  • Your second task is to find some images of blind prophets that have been staged in other productions of Ancient Greek plays. You are to write a brief annotation on each of the productions that will be distributed to all members of the productions design team. The annotations must therefore accurately describe any significant details of the set, lighting and costume designs used in other productions and briefly explain why such designs would or would not work in the space being used at QTC.



Writing a theatre review:

A theatre review evaluates the impact of a production as a whole rather than focusing on one element such as the choice of play, the script, the playwright or any other component involved in mounting a production. Unlike an analysis of literary components of a play, a review offers your evaluation of all the components in a performance and discusses whether the components were used to successfully (or unsuccessfully) convey meaning in a production. Your evaluation will need to consider the successes, failures or tensions within the production and will demonstrate your ability to identify and analyse a number of elements involved in a performance. Some of the components that may be contained in a review include:

  • A brief synopsis of the plot or aims of the production
  • An analysis of how the script was supported or interpreted throughout the production
  • An analysis of the mood or atmosphere established
  • An analysis of the acting styles used by performers and an analysis of any significant performances explaining why they were good, mediocre or bad
  • An analysis of the directorial choices evident
  • An analysis of the set, lighting, sound, costumes and other effects
  • Your personal opinion supported by reasons to justify your opinion


A sample question for a theatre review:

Write a 1000 word review of Queensland Theatre Company’s production of Edward Albee’s play The Goat: Or Who is Sylvia?



Essay writing skills common to all styles of essays


A good place to start is to imagine a PICTURE of your essay structure. A common structure found in most academic essays is the one below.

While getting an overall picture of your argument helps you organise your material, your essay must demonstrate your ability to research appropriately and demonstrate your ability to use and understand a number of analytical and literary skills. You demonstrate these skills when you communicate your ideas effectively through a clear structure, a persuasive argument, a good range of evidence to support your argument (research and referencing) and appropriate expression of your argument and evidence (the language and style you select to convey the ideas being outlined). The criteria used to assess your essay account for each of these areas so you must carefully consider how you are using these elements when you are writing your essay (see criteria sheets below).

Clive. Manual of Style for Essay Writing. St Lucia, Qld: Dept. of History, The University of Queensland, 1999.




Examples of criteria used to assess your essays:

1. Criteria for assessing essay Structure  





High Distinction

Imprecise and vague focus on the problem

Vague focus on the

The problem is defined

The problem is clearly defined.

Concise and accurate statement of

No clear statement
of method

Vague statement
of method

Statement of method presented

Statement of method presented using appropriate terminology

Clear and systematic statement of
method using appropriate terminology

Essay shows little
relevance to topic

Essay relates to
the topic

Essay appropriately
discusses the topic

Essay discusses the topic in an informative way

Essay discusses the topic in an insightful way


2. Criteria for assessing essay Argument  





High Distinction

Much of the evidence inaccurate or

Limited amount of supporting evidence

The evidence is reliable

Accurate presentation of evidence

Accurate presentation of appropriate evidence

Essay rambles and lacks continuity

The focus of the essay is weak

Material presented in
a logical order

Material presented in
a logical order which helps to build an argument

Logical argument that makes solid statements about the topic

Little evidence of originality

Essay covers material on a general level

Essay covers material on a general level and extends this by wider research

Essay presents some new ideas which were not covered in class

Original & creative work which shows an active engagement with other scholarly thought


3. Criteria for assessing essay Research & Referencing  





High Distinction

Inadequate acknowledgement of sources

Refers to general sources

Adequate acknowledgement of academic sources

Good acknowledgement of academic sources

Excellent acknowledgement of scholarly sources

No evidence of Research

Evidence of small
amount of general research

Evidence of research that is relevant to the topic

Evidence of wide research

Evidence of wide scholarly research

Inadequate consultation
of sources

Essay has used a small number of sources

Adequate consultation of sources

Essay relies on a broad range of sources

Excellent choice of scholarly sources

No referencing

Incorrect referencing

Some inaccuracies in

Correct referencing using an accepted citation method

Correct referencing using an accepted citation method


4. Criteria for assessing essay Language & Style





High Distinction

Clumsily written with
much incorrect punctuation

Awkward use of expression

Correct punctuation

Fluent piece of writing

Fluent piece of writing which uses sophisticated language

Much inaccurate usage

Several ungrammatical sentences

Grammatical sentences

Accurate usage of grammar

Grammar used with stylistic flair

Much incorrect spelling

Several incorrectly
spelt words

Mostly correct spelling throughout

Correct spelling throughout

Correct spelling throughout

Chaotic Bibliography

Several errors in
the Bibliography

Occasional error
in the Bibliography

Bibliography appropriately
set out

Bibliography correctly set out using MLA Style


*For good advice on how to improve sentence or paragraph construction have a look at:

Durham, Marsha and Roslyn Petelin. The Professional Writing Guide: Writing Well and Knowing Why. Warriewood, NSW: Business and Professional Publishing, 2001.


The Essay Writing Process

The follow graphic will help to visualise the process that is required when you write an essay:
















Common Assignment Pitfalls:

Under-researched work:

The biggest pitfall for students writing Tertiary Level essays is being under-prepared for the topic. Researching your area thoroughly is an important elementary task. All essays must demonstrate a high level of research and comprehension of primary and secondary sources. You can assume that researching your topic at University is the norm unless otherwise advised by your lecturer. The types of research material that will be most useful to students in the Humanities include books, journal articles, book reviews, newspapers, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, etc.

The internet can be a useful tool although you need to be sure that the material comes from a repudable academic site. Over-reliance on internet sources is not acceptable.

Research Tools:

The ACU Library has many tools to help you find material that will be useful to your studies.

ACU subscribes to many useful databases. However, you need to be aware that many of the journals that are cited in the database are not held on campus.

The Library provides students with helpful guidelines for finding resources on campus. There are Library 'finders' for many disciplines including Drama.


All essays need to follow a standard model of referencing. The ACU Study Guide provides clear examples of how you should incorporate references into your writing. This is essential reading for all subject areas offered at ACU. If the ACU Study Guide does not cover the specific item that you are wanting to include in your essay you can refer to the comprehensive manuals that are located in the Reference Section of the Library. For Drama essays students should use the MLA method of referencing. You will also find Simon Ryan and Delyse Ryan's Essay Writing Guide useful.

Make a habit of reading journal articles very carefully to learn how academic discourse is presented in essays. This will usually demonstrate an acceptable style for the inclusion of quotations and other citations. Look carefully at the way writers discuss the material. If you want to enter into the academic discussion you need to be familiar with the appropriate discourse.


Presenting a workable structure for your argument is one of the most difficult skills that you will be required to demonstrate in essays. You must order your material in a coherent and logical manner. Make sure that everything you say is directly relevant to your topic. While you are writing continually refer back to the question to check that you are not going off on a tangent.

Sweeping Statements:

Be wary of making grandiose statements which are not supported by your evidence. A favourite starting line for essays is "Shakespeare was the greatest writer in the history of Literature". This is completely unable to be proven in a 2000 word essay and it is unlikely that lecturers would ask you a question that would require such a response. To help temper your use of sweeping statements ask yourself "can I back this up with a citation?"—if you can't then leave it out.

Forgetting to Cite Your Sources:

You must always cite your sources. All of your information has to have come from somewhere. Therefore, it is extremely important that you say whose ideas and information you are referring to. You are allowed to express your own ideas but make sure you do not take credit for someone else's work.

Copying someone else's exact words or ideas:

Students should familiarise themselves with ACU's rules regarding plagiarism. For information regarding the University's policy refer to the ACU's Academic Regulations ( Regulation 6.4) and the Academic Honesty Policy(Item 7).

Poorly presented work:

Presentation is an important part of assignment writing. Hand-written work is not acceptable. Student access to computers is available on campus. All work should be typed and include a Cover Sheet.

Spelling and Grammatical Errors:

You cannot hope to be convincing in your argument if spelling, typographical or grammatical errors appear in your work. Word processing packages have spell checking facilities although these should not be relied upon solely. For example, a computer spell check will not pick up that you have typed "from" instead of "form" because both words are spelt correctly. There is no substitute for proof-reading your work. Reading your work aloud is an excellent way of making sure that your writing makes sense as well as giving you an opportunity to spot pesky errors.



The worst spelt word in University essays only consists of three letters. Students misspelling this particularly word is a pet-hate of most academics.

its vs it's

its = possessive

Example: "The dog's bone is buried" could be written as "Its bone is buried"


it's = a contraction of "it is"

Example: "The dog is asleep" could be written as "It's asleep"

Getting Help:

If you are having trouble with your tertiary studies ACU has staff who are here to help you. Ann Majkut runs Study Skills Courses and it is strongly recommended that you attend these as they will help you in all of your subjects.

Assessment Links on this Site:




0 thoughts on “Dramaturgy Essay Checker”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *