Page to Stage: Assignment #4: Dramaturgical Research Essay

In this culminating essay assignment you will extend your engagement with the play you evaluated in your “Why This Play Now?” essay by applying skills of textual and thematic analysis and academic research. Your task is to analyze the play’s production history through a particular question that provides a means for assessing its relevance today.

The first stage of your work on the essay will be conducting research using library collections and databases. Through your research, you will create an annotated bibliography that lists at least 10 academic sources and provides a 100-word summary for each source describing how it relates to your claim about the play’s production history. The second stage of your work on the essay will be preparing a draft for peer review and revision. You must bring to bear at least 5 academic sources in the final draft of your essay.

Audience: Scholars interested in the play

Format: Annotated Bibliography: 10 sources with 100-word summaries; MLA Works Cited entries; Essay: 1500 words (5-6 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best essays will focus on a single guiding question that allows you to make a claim about the play’s relevance today. Questions you might consider include: Where/when has the play been performed? Which actors or theater troupes have performed it? How has it been staged or adapted over time? What did critics say about it when it was first performed? How has critical reception of the play changed over time?


Type: Develop an analytical argument using original research that includes both primary and secondary sources

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to engage students in significant library research and to encourage them to practice synthesizing information gathered from various sources. Students apply their emerging understanding of textual features, thematic and performance elements of plays in light of the course’s main guiding question, “how does a written text become a living, shared moment in the performance space?”

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Practice annotating primary and secondary sources and organizing evidence using an outline (like the Performance Review Outline)
  2. Library session focused on identifying and interpreting relevant research sources, including critical analyses, historical and contemporary reviews, and primary sources such as photographs and videos of live performances;
  3. Prepare an annotated bibliography that summarizes the usefulness of sources gathered through library research
  4. Practice in-text citations and formatting entries for a Works Cited page

PagetoStage_Assignment4 (doc)

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