Introduction to Drama

January 18, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Introduction to Drama

Drama Combines aspects of all three Literary Genres 

Literature   

Poetry 

Drama can be fictional or factual It can also be commercial or literary Drama shares many of the common literary elements like plot, setting, characterization, and dialog Many plays are written in verse (for example, “Oedipus Rex” and “Othello”)

Drama 

Its unique characteristic is that it is written to be performed

Three Major Characteristics of Drama 

1. It has a direct, immediate impact  Advantages:  Simultaneous

impressions occur  Performance can be more expressive than a reader’s imagination  Disadvantages:  Limited

to one viewpoint—objective (dramatic)  Writers try to overcome this by using the soliloquy and the aside to accomplish what the omniscient viewpoint achieves in the short story genre

2. Drama effectively commands the spectator’s attention  Advantage:

The playwright’s power extends beyond words alone  Disadvantage: The materials one can use on stage are limited

3. The experience of watching a play is communal  Advantage:

Impact is intensified.  Disadvantages: There is a need for brevity, swift movement of plot, and intermissions

Plays are meant to be seen. However, there are justifications for reading a play     

It is better to know some masterpieces by reading them than never to know them at all Reading allows fuller use of the imagination It allows one to study at leisure It allows for review It permits one to see the original intent of the author without intervention by a director

Historical Moves 

In this class, we will cover five plays spanning five periods  Greek

Drama (5th Century B.C.)  Elizabethan Drama (1500-1600)  20th Century American drama (1916)  20th Century Modern Realistic Drama (1949)  Theatre of the Absurd (1959)

The History of Western Drama is Rooted in Ancient Greece

A Greek theatre on Mount Parnassus above Delphi

Greek Theatre    Ancient Greek theatre developed as part of religious festivals A “choric hymn” called the dithyramb was composed in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility The hymn was sung by a chorus of 50 men Over time, Thespis, the first actor, added dialog between one actor and the chorus

Thespis     

Added the first actor to interact with the dithyramb chorus Called the actor the “protagonist” Is said to have performed in Athens in 534 B.C. The term “thespian,” (having to do with drama or theater) comes from his name. When the Dionysian festivals changed to drama competitions, Thespis was the first winner

Golden Age of Greece (480 - 338 BC)

Featured 3 great tragic dramatists:  Aeschylus (525-456 BC)  Sophocles (496-405 BC)  Euripedes (480-407 BC)

Aeschylus (around 484 B.C.)    

Sophocles  

Changed the dithyramb into drama Added a second actor Added props and scenery Reduced the chorus from 50 to 15 Added a third actor Changed the focus from interactions between humans and the gods to interactions between humans

Euripides Reflects modern attitudes  Writes about all real people, not just royalty  Plays have a realistic flavor 

Physical Conventions of Greek Theatre Semi-circular tiers of seats hollowed out of the hillside  Seated up to 17,000 spectators  Orchestra 

 60

ft. in diameter with altar at center  Place where the chorus performed

Performances occurred in daylight  Chorus of 15 

 Sang

and danced in response to the actors

Chorus 

Forerunner of our divisions of plays into acts and scenes

Function in telling story: converses with main character(s)  sometimes comments on the action  offers words of warning, advice  voices reactions of spectators 

Actors     

Maximum of 3 with speaking roles Could double, triple their roles All male Wore masks Wore buskins 

Elevator boots to increase stature

Other Characteristics of Greek Drama: Some unhappy endings  Few or no horrible scenes on stage  Female roles played by men  Simple stage props  Religious in origin and spirit  Romantic love not important  Employed Aristotle’s classical unities 

Aristotle’s Rules and Purpose for Ancient Drama 

Classical Unities  Unity

of time (action must occur within 24 hours)  Unity of place (action takes place in one location)  Unity of action (single plot) 

Catharsis  Socially

acceptable purging of emotions such as anger, fear, or grief

Two Main Types of Greek Drama with sub-genres 

Tragedy  Melodrama

Comedy  Farce

Characteristics of Greek Tragedy  Displays

human greatness  Emphasizes human freedom  Exposes the nobility of man  Presents challenges to the vision of human possibility  Adheres to Aristotle’s classical unities

Characteristics of the Tragic Hero  Overpowering 


Usually named in the play’s title

 Judged

by moral standards  Isolated  Lofty and noble  Has a tragic flaw


   

A sub-genre of Tragedy Attempts to arouse feelings of fear and pity Uses crude means Oversimplified conflict

Emphasis on plot  Good triumphs over evil  Happy ending  Usually escapist 

Characteristics of Comedy  Emphasizes

commonness of the

group  Protagonist tends to be a type  Protagonist is judged by social standards  Plots are less likely to have organic unity  Usually happy ending


A sub-genre of Comedy  Aims at explosive laughter  Crude means  Violent, usually physical conflicts 

Emphasis on plot, improbable situations, coincidence  Coarse wit, practical jokes, physical action  Usually escapist 

This ends the introductory discussion of drama

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