Texts & Technologies

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Theatre and Performance Studies

1 Texts & Technologies CHAPTER 2 – THE PLAY Theatre as Human Action, pg 33-51 The Script - drama is written down, it becomes theatre when its produced - only the script keeps a play alive and allow others to rediscover it - scripts with less stage direction are harder to imagine what past live productions may have been like - drama is not theatre, but we need drama to produce theatre The Elements of Drama - four things needed for theatre… 1 actors 2 script 3 audience 4 performance place - Aristotle, one of the first theatre scholars, outlines the various elements of script (particularly in tragedies) in Poetics… plot, character, theme, dictation, music, and spectacle Plot - plot is more then the story, it includes… 1 how the story is told 2 what happens physically and emotionally to the characters 3 how the playwright unfolds the tale - even if other elements are emphasized over plot, something does happen in most plays - plots can come together through a character making a vital decision, a coincident, physical action, or subtle action - some plays (absurdist) have no story at all yet still have a plot because something happens Character - characters should hold the audience’s interest and capture their attention and emotions - characters can be larger than life, quiet and determined, or “normal” with sincere human qualities - most dramas have fully developed characters with depth rather that one- dimensional ones - most modern plays are about characters first and plot second - the audience should develop empathy with the characters… a connection even if the theatregoer does not directly identify with the character or share their emotions 2 Texts & Technologies Theme - theme is not a moral or lesson, it is the primary idea behind a play - them drives the plot and characters because it is an idea rich with complexity or dilemma - some plays have strong, thought-provoking themes but others just reveal the everyday human condition or explore human nature - a play should be judged oh how the audience can relate to the play… timeless plays have timeless themes Diction - diction is the language or dialogue and how it is presented - in Aristotle’s time, diction included rhyme, rhythm, literary imagery and beauty of the verse - some plays have realistic diction, others employ a highly lyrical language - characters with distinct dictions must fit cohesively in the play - diction is formed by the playwright’s script and actor’s vocal techniques Music - music is found in most plays, whether in the text of in the background to establish a mood - music becomes an extension of people and the story Spectacle - Aristotle thought of spectacle as the visual, and in his day the visual aspects were minimal - spectacle adds richness to a play, but it isn’t the main element (the most effective dramas use it sparingly) Types of Drama - plays traditionally fell into two categories… 1 tragedy (with rare comic relief) 2 comedy (nothing serious) - now most plays don’t stick to one genre, but are a mixture - elements of a tragedy… 1 serious play about a noble protagonist who has a tragic flaw (hamartia) which leads to his downfall and changes fate for his people 2 he must have good qualities, so the audience will have sympathy - tragedies do not require death, just punishment - classic tragedies evoke “pity and fear” from the audience - modern tragedies do not follow these guidelines - comedies, by definition, were meant to deal with social issues rather that politics… they always have a happy ending - the treatment of the theme, exaggerated emotions, and lightness distinguishes the two genres - farce = physical comedy, what characters do is funnier than what they say 3 Texts & Technologies - comedy = witty, funny characters, satirical theme - comedy of manners = making fun of the social conventions of a group of people - satire = mocks society on a broader level, try to make people think - a melodrama is a serious play that doesn’t aspire to the height of tragedy - no simple definition, the range is so wide - tragicomedy is the closet to life, because life is funny and sad - musical is relatively new… started in America… is a mixture of many elements… traditionally a love story… spectacle is important - fantasy is a play that creates its own reality and its own logic - sometimes the audience has to accept made up aspects even when the story is realistic Dramatic Structure - plays are built rather than written because a play is a structure - well-made plays are not as strict as before, but there are still important elements… 1 inciting incident – before the play starts, something has happened in the character’s pasts that affects how they behave and the plot… the audience learns of this incident as the play unfolds 2 point of attack – when the action begins, usually after filler… grad audience’s attention and signify that something is going to happen 3 exposition – talk of the past by the characters… the drama has to be human action rather than talk of human action 4 foreshadowing – hinting at or blatantly telling what is going to happen next… needed to clarify the story or add intrigue 5 complications – complications are necessary for conflict… they thicken the plot and propel the action forward 6 climax – the highest emotional point of the story… the outcome is known 7 conclusion – (aka denouement, resolution) a new order or sense of balance is reached CHAPTER 6 – THE PLAY BUILDERS: THE DESIGNERS Theatre as Human Action, pg 147-189 Theatre Architecture Proscenium Stage - most traditional… “puts actors into a picture frame” - two sections = stage + house (audience) - house is raked, as to not obstruct sight lines - advantages: 1 easy to stage because audience view from only 1 direction 2 plenty of scenery can be used 3 lighting is easy to use…. silhouettes are possible 4 Texts & Technologies 4 curtains are useful - disadvantages: 1 rapport between actors and audience can be diluted by distance 2 it requires scenery and expense - used for perspective Thrust Stage - second most common… “three quarter stage” - regional theatres, off Broadway, Shakespeare - hard to direct because part of the audience is ignored, but the rapport is strong - less scenery, less perspective Arena Stage - theatre-in-the-round - little scenery, audience is close - often square or rectangle - close audience relationship, tough to direct due to sightlines Flexible Space - black box, can be manipulate to form any of the stage types - endless possibilities, useful “space conforms to production” - theatre is not limited to a stage… found space is anoth
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