Dramaturgical Theory

Dr Erving Goffman came up with the dramaturgical theory of society, which symbolized life interactions with theater terms - Dramaturgical Theory introduction. This theory used theater language to describe ways we interact to maintain social order. Goffman stated that life can be referred to as a play with morals. According to this theory, we all are actors/actresses; therefore, we must all have scripts, costumes, and sets. An essential to this theory is the difference between front stage and back stage.

Of course, we all know what the difference to these to when speaking of a literal theater production. The front stage would be where the performance takes place in front of an audience. The back stage, behind the curtain, would be when the actors/actresses can be themselves without worrying about getting judged by the audience. Similarly, in life the front stage would be what people want us to see and backstage would be when people selectively choose to only tell certain people certain things.

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Backstage would be when there is no acting and when your true feelings show; however, most people never see this. I have performed in many plays at my high school, so I have a good understanding of the difference in front and back stage. For example, one of the times that I thought I had switched over my microphone after going behind the curtain, I really had not. So I start talking about how I missed a whole section because I was distracted by screaming kids. I was going on and on until I realized the entire audience was listening.

It was quite embarrassing to say the least. I also exhibit front and back stages in my regular everyday life. For example, when I’m around an entire crowd of people and I’m upset about something, I act like everything is fine instead of explaining to everyone about what is wrong. This shows an example of front stage because I pretend and only allow the audience to know so much. However, when around just my friends, I will tell them exactly how I feel and that would be an example of being back stage because I am no longer hiding my emotions.

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