A strategic instrument to create meaning
Corporate dramaturgy refers to an interdisciplinary approach in the analysis, description, and strategic development processes of organizational communication. The concept combines elements from organizational and management theory as well as theater theory.
To our clients, we are communication consultants or creative directors, sometimes they call us designers or editors too. All of that is correct, and we are proud of all those titles, but they never completely cover what we find ourselves doing on any project.
And what we find ourselves doing is fusing our expertise in communications with our background in theatre and film. “Corporate Dramaturgy” describes our approach to our work, whether we create an immersive multi-sensory experience or coach individuals and teams for their next big presentation. We don't always use it explicitly or even mention it to our clients, but we are fascinated by it nonetheless.
Dramaturgy is everywhere
In theater, the term dramaturgy means to examine the dramatic composition (the book, play, or musical notation) and to accompany and facilitate the concrete transformation of the underlying text into a performance or staged event.
Dramaturgy is about the through-line between the author or composer, the creative team, the performers, all the way to the audience. The dramaturg understands and anticipates how meaning is created at every stage of the communications process.
Of course, theatrical elements can not only be found in the artistic field; they shape all areas of life. Every meeting, presentation, zoom call is staged to some degree. Corporate Dramaturgy doesn't simply use theatre as a metaphor for business, but understands theatre-making as a process, requiring storytelling skills but - crucially - excellent creative collaboration skills.
In an increasingly complex economic environment companies have sought to foster a collaborative culture, paired with a more transparent communication style not only internally, but with their customers.
Companies strive to be authentic in their communication, to act in line with their values and principles, guided by a purpose their people and customers can subscribe to. What they do and how they do it needs to be meaningful. Small and large companies will find the same challenge: defining the strategy is the easy part; finding ways to change and establish a culture around these ideals, is much harder. How to make something meaningful, in both words and actions? And how to stay consistent?
This is where dramaturgy can provide a helpful new toolset. Dramaturgy allows communicators to challenge conventions and avoid empty clichés, to truly re-invent how messages are created and communicated.
Dramaturgy’s superpower: Engagement
In an organisational context, meaning is created by a complex interaction of individuals and their unique contribution. The whole company – cast, creative team, and technical staff – creates meaning for its audience.
Dramatic concepts are fundamental to successfully engage an audience because they do more than convey information and facts - the persuade, compel, move, delight, and surprise.
A theatrical performance at its core engages not despite, but exactly because the audience is aware of the artificiality of the moment. Dramaturgs facilitate the creation of meaning by involving everybody - including the audience's imagination - in creating something truthful and convincing.
When we watch a story unfold on stage or screen, we suspend our disbelief to spend time with others in an imagined reality that might or might not represent a potential or desired future. Either way, we come away slightly changed, maybe even moved.
We think there are opportunities for these moments to happen everywhere and at any time: in big auditoriums, tiny meeting rooms, on a podium, or on skype. Authentic, memorable and moving communications. What could be more precious to organisations today?