DRAMA OVERVIEW

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					 DRAMA OVERVIEW

 MORE THAN ANY OTHER LITERARY

 FORM, DRAMA IS A VISUAL & COL-

 LABORATIVE MEDIUM, DESIGNED

 TO BE PERFORMED BY ACTORS IN

 FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE.
DRAMA OVERVIEW


 GENERALLY SPEAKING, DRAMA IS


 MORE DOMINATED BY DIALOGUE


 THAN ARE FICTION & POETRY.
 DRAMA OVERVIEW

 A PLAY (THE COMMON TERM FOR A
 DRAMATIC COMPOSITION) ALSO HAS
 A NUMBER OF DISTINGUISHING CON-
 VENTIONAL ELEMENTS (DIVISION IN-
 TO ACTS & SCENES, STAGE DIREC-
 TIONS, A LIST OF CHARACTERS, AND
 OTHERS).
ORIGINS OF DRAMA

 WESTERN DRAMA ORIGINATED IN

 ANCIENT GREECE. THE WORD

 DRAMA ITSELF COMES FROM THE

 GREEK DRAN—MEANING TO DO,

 TO ACT.
 GREEK DRAMA (cont.)


 FOR SEVERAL CENTURIES BEGINNING

 AROUND 530 B.C.E., PLAYWRIGHTS

 COMPETED DURING RELIGIOUS FES-

 TIVALS RELATING TO DIONYSUS,

 GOD OF WINE & FERTILITY.
 GREEK DRAMA (cont.)


 PLAYS CAME TO BE PERFORMED IN

 LARGE OUTDOOR AMPHITHEATERS.

 (THE WORD THEATER COMES FROM

 THE GREEK WORDS FOR “SEEING

 PLACE.”)
GREEK DRAMA (cont.)


 ACTORS WORE STYLIZED MASKS


 THAT SYMBOLIZED THEIR CHARAC-


 TERISTICS.
 GREEK DRAMA (cont.)

 ANOTHER CONVENTION OF GREEK

 DRAMA WAS THE CHORUS, WHICH
 DANCED & SANG BETWEEN SCENES IN
 THE ORCHESTRA (THE ROUND AREA
 AT THE FOOT OF THE AMPHITHEA-
 TER).
 GREEK DRAMA (cont.)

 THE CHORUS REPRESENTED THE

 VALUES OF THE COMMUNITY, AND

 ITS SCENE-ENDING ODES PROVIDED

 COMMENTARY ON THE PLAY AND

 CLUES TO WHAT WAS TO COME.
 GREEK DRAMA (cont.)

 ANOTHER CONVENTION WAS THE

 DEUS EX MACHINA (“GOD FROM
 THE MACHINE”)—AN ELABORATE
 MECHANISM FOR LOWERING ACTORS
 PLAYING THE ROLES OF GODS ONTO
 THE STAGE.
 GREEK DRAMA (cont.)


 THE MOST IMPORTANT GREEK PLAY-

 WRIGHT WAS SOPHOCLES, AUTHOR

 OF OEDIPUS REX, CONSIDERED BY

 MANY TO BE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL

 DRAMA EVER WRITTEN.
 ROMAN DRAMA
 THOUGH ROMAN DRAMA BASICALLY
 ADAPTED THE CONVENTIONS OF
 GREEK DRAMA, THE PLAYWRIGHT
 SENECA (1ST CENTURY C.E.) HAD A BIG
 INFLUENCE ON THE DEVELOPMENT
 OF THE 5-ACT PLAY & THE REVENGE
 TRAGEDIES (E.G., HAMLET) OF ELIZA-
 BETHAN ENGLAND.
 MEDIEVAL DRAMA

 DURING THE MIDDLE AGES (500-1350)
 THE CLASSICAL TRADITION WAS LOST,
 AND PLAYS BECAME VEHICLES FOR
 RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION. THE TWO
 MOST COMMON TYPES OF PLAYS
 WERE MIRACLE PLAYS & MORALI-
 TY PLAYS.
 MEDIEVAL DRAMA (cont.)

 MIRACLE PLAYS DRAMATIZED BIBLE


 STORIES OR THE LIFE & MARTYRDOM


 OF A SAINT.
 MEDIEVAL DRAMA (cont.)

 MORALITY PLAYS (SUCH AS THE 15TH-
 CENTURY EVERYMAN) DRAMATIZED
 ALLEGORIES OF THE CHRISTIAN SOUL
 IN QUEST OF SALVATION & EMPLOYED
 PERSONIFIED ABSTRACTIONS SUCH
 AS SHAME, LUST, MERCY, ETC. AS
 CHARACTERS.
 ELIZABETHAN DRAMA

 AFTER ITS BIRTH IN ANCIENT GREECE,

 DRAMA’S NEXT GREAT PERIOD OF

 DEVELOPMENT WAS IN ENGLAND DUR-

 ING THE REIGNS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH

 (1558-1603) & KING JAMES I (1603-1625).
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)

 EXEMPLIFIED BY THE PLAYS OF WM.

 SHAKESPEARE, DEALING LARGELY

 W/ THE ACTIONS, INTRIGUES, & RO-

 MANCES OF KINGS, QUEENS, & OTHER

 HIGHBORN CHARACTERS.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)

 AS IN GREEK DRAMA, NO WOMEN

 WERE ALLOWED ON THE STAGE.

 PLAYS OFTEN BLENDED ACTION,

 HUMOR, & VIOLENCE W/ POETRY &

 PHILOSOPHICAL INSIGHTS.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)


 EARLY PLAYS WERE PERFORMED IN


 INNYARDS & OPEN SPACES BETWEEN


 BUILDINGS.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)


 THEATERS WERE CIRCULAR & ONLY

 PARTLY ROOFED, WITH THE AUDI-

 ENCE ON THE SIDES AS WELL AS IN

 FRONT OF THE RAISED STAGE.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)


 THEATERS HELD UP TO 2500 PEOPLE

 IN AN INTIMATE SETTING, INCLUDING

 500-800 GROUNDLINGS (COMMON-

 ERS WHO STOOD IN THE “PIT” AT THE

 FOOT OF THE STAGE).
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)


  THOUGH SCENERY & PROPS WERE


  LIMITED, COSTUMES & SOUND EF-


  FECTS WERE QUITE ELABORATE.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)

 STAGES INCLUDED A SECOND-LEVEL

 BALCONY, DOORS AT THE BACK FOR
 ENTRANCES & EXITS, A CURTAINED
 ALCOVE, AND A TRAP DOOR IN THE
 STAGE FLOOR FOR THE ENTRANCES &
 EXITS OF SPIRITS.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)

 ONE CONVENTION WAS THE ASIDE:
 COMMENTS DIRECTED ONLY TO THE
 AUDIENCE THAT MAKE THEM PRIVY
 TO A CHARACTER’S THOUGHTS &
 THAT ALLOW THEM TO PERCEIVE
 IRONIES & INTRIGUES UNKNOWN TO
 OTHER CHARACTERS.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)


 ANOTHER CONVENTION WAS THE


 SOLILOQUY (FROM THE LATIN FOR


 “TALKING TO ONESELF”).
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)

 A SOLILOQUY, WHICH IS NOT PART OF

 THE DIALOGUE OF THE PLAY, IS A
 SPEECH DELIVERED BY A LONE ACTOR
 ON THE STAGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF
 REVEALING HIS OR HER THOUGHTS,
 MOTIVES, & INNER NATURE.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)


 PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS SOLI-



 LOQUY IS HAMLET’S “TO BE OR NOT


 TO BE” SPEECH.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)
 IN ELIZABETHAN DRAMA, THE CHOR-
 US OF GREEK DRAMA EVOLVED INTO
 A PERSON WHO SOMETIMES SPOKE
 THE PROLOGUE & EPILOGUE OF A
 PLAY, PROVIDING AUTHORIAL COM-
 MENTARY AS WELL AS EXPOSITION
 REGARDING THE SUBJECT, TIME, SET-
 TING, ETC. OF THE PLAY.
ELIZABETHAN DRAMA (cont.)

 SOME PLAYS HAVE WHAT IS CALLED

 A CHORAL CHARACTER (E.G., THE

 FOOL IN KING LEAR) WHO STANDS

 APART FROM & COMMENTS ON THE

 ACTION OF THE PLAY.
MODERN DRAMA


 THE MOST POPULAR FORM OF DRAMA

 IN THE 19TH CENTURY, ESPECIALLY IN

 THE U.S. & ENGLAND, WAS MELO-

 DRAMA.
 MODERN DRAMA (cont.)

 MELODRAMAS ARE LOVE STORIES &

 ACTION-PACKED, INTRIGUE-FILLED

 PLOTS W/ HAPPY ENDINGS & FLAT,

 STEREOTYPED CHARACTERS REPRE-

 SENTING EXTREMES OF GOOD & EVIL.
 MODERN DRAMA (cont.)

 THE LATE 19TH & EARLY 20TH CENTU-

 RIES SAW THE RISE OF REALISM,
 WHICH PRESENTS THE CRISES AND
 CONFLICTS OF ORDINARY PEOPLE’S
 EVERYDAY LIVES (WORK, FAMILY,
 RELATIONSHIPS, ETC.).
 MODERN DRAMA (cont.)

 THE PICTURE-FRAME STAGE BECAME

 THE NORM, OFTEN REPRODUCING

 SETTINGS IN REALISTIC DETAIL.

 SCENERY & PROPS ARE IMPORTANT.
 MODERN DRAMA (cont.)


 FOUR-ACT PLAYS BECAME THE NORM,


 AND CONVENTIONS SUCH AS ASIDES


 & SOLILOQUIES FELL INTO DISUSE.
 MODERN DRAMA (cont.)

 THE 20TH CENTURY ALSO SAW THE

 RISE OF THE THEATER OF THE AB-

 SURD, W/ ITS SEEMINGLY UNINTELL-

 IGIBLE PLOTS & IRRATIONAL BEHAV-

 IOR.
 MODERN DRAMA (cont.)
 IN WAITING FOR GODOT, FOR IN-
 STANCE, TWO TRAMPS AMUSE THEM-
 SELVES W/ AIMLESS CONVERSATION
 & MEANINGLESS ACTIVITY WHILE
 WAITING IN A WASTE PLACE FOR A
 PERSON NAMED GODOT WHO NEVER
 COMES (AND WHO MAY OR MAY NOT
 EXIST).
MAJOR TYPES OF DRAMA

 TRAGEDY FOCUSES ON LIFE’S SOR-
 ROWS & DIFFICULTIES, RECOUNTING
 A SERIES OF IMPORTANT EVENTS IN
 THE LIFE OF A SIGNIFICANT PERSON,
 TREATED W/ SERIOUSNESS & DIGNI-
 TY, AND CULMINATING IN AN UNHAP-
 PY CATASTROPHE.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)


 THE BASIC STRUCTURE & PURPOSE OF


 TRAGEDY WERE FIRST DEFINED IN


 ARISTOTLE’S POETICS.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 ACCORDING TO ARISTOTLE, A TRAG-

 IC HERO IS A GREAT MAN OR WO-
 MAN WHO SUFFERS A REVERSAL OF
 FORTUNE (LIKE OEDIPUS IN OEDIPUS
 REX) B/C OF A WEAKNESS, ERROR IN
 JUDGMENT, OR ACCIDENT.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 ARISTOTLE CALLED THIS ERROR ETC.


 HAMARTIA, WHICH DURING THE

 RENAISSANCE EVOLVED INTO THE

 CONCEPT OF THE TRAGIC FLAW.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)


 ARISTOTLE ALSO SAID THAT WATCH-

 ING THE HERO’S DOWNFALL (THE

 CATASTROPHE) AND SEEING THE

 DRAMA’S RESOLUTION (RESTORA-

 TION OF ORDER), . . .
TRAGEDY (cont.)

. . . THE AUDIENCE EXPERIENCES A
CATHARSIS—I.E., RELIEF FROM THE
TENSIONS OF THE PLAY (A PURGING
OF “PITY AND FEAR”) AND A SENSE OF
HAVING GAINED INSIGHT, ENLIGHT-
ENMENT.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 TRAGIC HEROES AROUSE PITY B/C
 THEY ARE NOT EVIL & B/C THEIR MIS-
 FORTUNE EXCEEDS WHAT THEY DE-
 SERVE; THEY AROUSE FEAR B/C THE
 AUDIENCE RECOGNIZES THEMSELVES
 IN THE HERO & THE POSSIBILITY OF A
 SIMILAR FATE.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 PLAYS FROM ELIZABETHAN TO MOD-

 ERN TIMES HAVE DEVIATED GREATLY

 FROM THE ARISTOTELIAN NORM. FOR

 EXAMPLE, SOMETIMES THE HERO IS

 NOT A GOOD PERSON (MACBETH).
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 ALSO, AFTER THE 18TH CENTURY, TRAG-
 IC HEROES BEGAN TO BE DRAWN FROM
 THE MIDDLE & LOWER CLASSES IN
 WHAT ARE CALLED DOMESTIC TRAG-
 EDIES, THUS LAYING THE FOUNDA-
 TION FOR MODERN DRAMAS LIKE
 DEATH OF A SALESMAN.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 COMIC RELIEF WAS ALSO INTRO-

 DUCED INTO TRAGEDIES, AND THE

 GENRE OF TRAGICOMEDY (ESSENTIAL-

 LY A TRAGEDY W/ A HAPPY ENDING)

 EVOLVED.
 TRAGEDY (cont.)

 SINCE MODERN TRAGEDIES DO NOT

 ALWAYS FOLLOW THE CONVENTIONS
 OF CLASSICAL TRAGEDY, SOME CRIT-
 ICS ARGUE THAT THEY ARE NOT TRUE
 TRAGEDIES & THAT THEIR PROTAGO-
 NISTS NOT TRAGIC HEROES.
 COMEDY

 A COMEDY IS A PLAY OF A LIGHT,

 AMUSING NATURE IN WHICH CHAR-
 ACTERS OVERCOME ADVERSITY TO
 ACHIEVE SUCCESS & A HAPPY END-
 ING, OFTEN IN THE FORM OF MAR-
 RIAGE.
COMEDY (cont.)

 PROBLEMS ARE EITHER NOT VERY

 SERIOUS OR ARE TREATED IN A
 LIGHT-HEARTED MANNER, CONVEY-
 ING THE SENSE THAT NO GREAT DIS-
 ASTER WILL BEFALL THE CHARAC-
 TERS.
 COMEDY (cont.)

 THE DISTINCTION IS OFTEN MADE BE-

 TWEEN LOW COMEDY (WHICH IS
 CRUDE, PHYSICAL, EVEN VIOLENT) &
 HIGH COMEDY (WHICH IS MORE
 THOUGHTFUL & INTELLECTUAL IN ITS
 APPEAL).
 COMEDY (cont.)

 IN ROMANTIC COMEDY, LOVERS

 MUST ENDURE HUMOROUS TRIALS &
 TRIBULATIONS EN ROUTE TO A LIFE
 OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER (A MID-
 SUMMER’S MIGHT DREAM, SLEEP-
 LESS IN SEATTLE).
 COMEDY (cont.)

 A COMEDY OF MANNERS IS A SAT-

 IRICAL PORTRAYAL OF THE CONVEN-

 TIONS & MANNERS OF A SOCIETY,

 USUALLY THE DOMINANT ONE AT THE

 TIME A PLAY IS WRITTEN.
 COMEDY (cont.)

 THE COMEDY OF MANNERS DELIGHTS

 IN THE FAULTS & FOIBLES OF HUMAN-

 ITY, BUT AT THE SAME TIME IS MORE

 REALISTIC & CRITICAL THAN ROMAN-

 TIC COMEDY.
 COMEDY (cont.)

 THE COMEDY OF MANNERS WAS HIGH-

 LY DEVELOPED IN THE LATE 17TH CEN-
 TURY IN WITTY PLAYS THAT EXPOSED
 THE HYPOCRITICAL CONVENTIONS &
 RIDICULOUS ARTIFICIALITIES OF HIGH
 SOCIETY.
 COMEDY (cont.)

 THE COMEDY OF MANNERS EVOLVED

 INTO SATIRIC COMEDY, WHICH
 RIDICULES THE VAIN & FOOLISH,
 TREATING THEM W/ SARCASM &
 MAKING THEM SEEM LUDICROUS &
 REPULSIVE.
 COMEDY (cont.)

 ANOTHER POPULAR FORM OF COM-
 EDY IS FARCE, WHICH PRESENTS
 EXAGGERATED CHARACTER TYPES IN
 IMPROBABLE OR LUDICROUS SITUA-
 TIONS, AND EMPLOYS SEXUAL MIX-
 UPS, BROAD VERBAL HUMOR, & A LOT
 OF ANTIC PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.

				
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