Drama is a literary composition involving conflict, action crisis and atmosphere designed to be acted by players on a stage before an audience. This definition may be applied to motion picture drama as well as to the traditional stage.
Apply these questions to a recent movie you have seen or a radio or television drama,
- What did the leading character want?
- What stood in his way? (People - environment- personality, etc,)
- What was the high point of tension or the crisis? (This is where the leading character must make a crucial decision that will effect the outcome of the play.)
- Are the characters true to life or are they types or caricatures?
- How is the character revealed?
- What is the driving force of each leading character?
- If a character changes, are the causes convincing and true to life?
- Are the sets appropriate?
- Are they attractive?
- Are they authentic?
Critical standards useful for drama, novel, motion pictures:
- What is the chief emphasis (ideas, character, atmosphere)?
- What was the purpose? (entertainment, humor, excitement)?
- Is it realistic or romantic?
- Does it show life as it really is or distort life?
- Does it present any problem of human relationship?
- Does it glamorize life and present an artificial happy ending?
Types of Drama:
- Tragedy -- In general, tragedy involves the ruin of the leading characters. To the Greeks, it meant the destruction of some noble person through fate, To the Elizabethans, it meant in the first place death and in the second place the destruction of some noble person through a flaw in his character. Today it may not involve death so much as a dismal life, Modern tragedy often shows the tragedy not of the strong and noble but of the weak and mean,
- Comedy -- is lighter drama in which the leading characters overcome the difficulties which temporarily beset them
- Problem Play -- Drama of social criticism discusses social, economic, or political problems by means of a play.
- Farce -- When comedy involves ridiculous or hilarious complications without regard for human values, it becomes farce.
- Comedy of Manners -- Comedy which wittily portrays fashionable life.
- Fantasy -- A play sometimes, but not always, in comic spirit in which the author gives free reign to his fantasy, allowing things to happen without regard to reality.
- Melodrama -- Like farce, melodrama pays almost no attention to human values, but its object is to give a thrill instead of a laugh. Often good entertainment, never any literary value.
Types of Drama of Historical Interest:
- Medieval mystery plays -- dealt with Bible stories and allegorical mysteries.
- Chronicle plays -- dealt directly with historical scenes and characters.
- Masques -- were slight plays involving much singing and dancing and costuming. They were usually allegorical.
Drama is the most dependent of art forms -- director, actors, scene and costume designers must interpret before the audience does.
The Place of the Actor
- The player should respect his play, his part, his fellow players, and his audience.
- He should have imagination enough to create character for us instead of merely exploiting his own personality.
- He should have a technical equipment in his 'voice, facial expression, bodily poise, gesture, and by-play that enables him to project the character as he conceives it.
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More Literary Terms
1. Allusion - an indirect reference by casually mentioning something that is generally familiar (In literature we find many allusions to mythology, the Bible, history, etc.)
2. Aside - Lines whispered to the audience or to another character on stage (not meant to be heard by all the characters on stage)
3. Catastrophe - the final event in a drama (a death in a tragedy or a marriage in a comedy)
4. Comedy - A light play with a happy ending
5. Comic Relief - A bit of humor injected into a serious play to relieve the heavy tension of tragic events
6. Crisis or Climax - the turning point in the plot (This occurs when events develop either for or against the main character and a crucial decision must be made.)
7. Dramatic Irony - occurs when the audience knows something that the character on stage is not aware.
8. Foreshadow - Lines that give a hint or clue to future events (It doesn't tell the future but hints at it.)
9. Irony -
- A method of expression in which the ordinary meaning of the word is opposite to the thought in the speaker's mind
- Events contrary to what would be naturally expected
10. Metaphor - an implied comparison between two different things; identifying a person or object as the thing to which it is being compared.
Example: 'It is the East and Juliet is the sun.' - 'tossed on the sea of life'
11. Metonymy - a figure of speech whereby the name of a thing is substituted for the attribute which it suggests. Example: The pen (power of literature or the written word) is mightier than the sword (force).
12. Nemesis - agent of retribution (the person who punishes)
13. Personification - giving the quality of life to inanimate things
14. Poetic Justice - The operation of justice in a play with fair distribution of rewards for good deeds and punishment for wrong doing
15. Simile - an expressed comparison between two different things using 'like' or 'as' - Example: 'eyes twinkle like stars' - 'as loud as the roaring sea'
16. Soliloquy - A single character on stage thinking out loud (a way of letting the audience know what is in the character's mind)
17. Tragedy - A serious play having an unhappy ending
18. Tragic Flaw - A character trait that leads one to his/her own downfall or destruction
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