Dramaturge is a position in the theater which gained its modern-day function through the innovations of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a playwright and theater practitioner who worked in Germany in the 18th century.
The dramaturge's contribution was to categorize and discuss the various types and kinds of plays, their interconnectedness and their styles. Enhanced by a tradition of generous support for theater as part of German cultural identity, which gave nearly every city a fully staffed theater supported by public funds, the position of dramaturge includes the hiring of actors and the development of a season of plays with a sense of the connectedness between them, the assistance 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, serving as elucidator of history or spokesperson for absent (deceased) playwrights.
In Britain dramaturges function similarly although they are more often, themselves, also playwrights. In the USA, where this position was until recently relatively unknown, it has enjoyed a recent growth particularly in cutting edge theaters with an emphasis on developing new plays within the theater.