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What is drama?
The word drama comes from the Greek word for
“action.” Drama is written to be performed by actors
and watched by an audience.
Two Types of Drama
 shows the downfall or death
 usually shows a conflict
of a tragic hero, or main
character. In ancient Greek
plays, the hero was a good
person brought down by a
tragic flaw, or defect in
character. In a modern plays,
the hero can be an normal
person destroyed by an evil in
 emphasizes human greatness.
between a young hero and an
older authority. Typical
comedies involve confusion,
jokes, and a happy ending.
 stresses human weaknesses.
History of Drama
Greek Theatre
Shakespearian Theatre
 5th century B.C.
 Late 16th century A.D.
= large
plays were both
comedies and
Greek plays were
primarily tragedies
Small indoor
theater =
small audience
Modern Drama Evolved
Differences: Shakespearian and modern-day drama
1. Language: Shakespeare made use of elaborate, almost
vague sentences. 'thee' and "thou" are now replaced with
2. Plot: Shakespearian dramas had a linear plot. We have a
double-parallel kind of plot(where 2 or more stories run
concurrently). Also, Shakespeare didn't make any use of
flashback, while modern-day drama does.
3. Shakespearian dramas are often tragi-comedies. Modernday drama comes in a wide variety of genres (farce,
melodrama, comedy, tragi-comedy, tragedy)
What is a
A play is a form of
storytelling in which
actors make the
characters come alive
through speech and
action. Plays usually
incorporate music as
How is a play written?
 The author of a play is called a playwright.
Everything a playwright writes must appear onstage.
 A play in written form is called a script.
 The playwright must write the dialogue, or what the
characters say to each other in conversation, as well as
the stage directions, which tells how the play is to be
Consists of two types
of writing
The dialogue that the
characters speak
The stage directions
that tell the actors how
to move and speak,
describing the sets and
Can be presented in
two ways
As literature, the text
of the play itself
As performance, the
production of the play
in a theater
The Role of the Audience
Every performance is different,
even if the same actors perform
the same play many times.
Performances are influenced by
the audience. When you are a
member of an audience, the
experience is different than when
you watch or read a play alone. The
response of the audience will also
affect your own personal response.
For example, you may laugh louder
when the rest of the audience is
laughing, too.
 Dialogue is what the characters say, and it is used to
reveal their personalities. The name of the character
who is to speak is listed usually in bold at the start of a
line, followed by a colon. Every time the speaker
changes, a new line is started. Dialogue is necessary in
order to develop conflict and advance the plot.
Staging a play
 Drama is more than just the words on a page. The
production of a play involves directing the way the
characters move, what they wear, the lighting, and the
 Staging is the practice of putting on the play. Some of
the details of staging may be included in the stage
directions, however, the director and the producer take
what the playwright has described and bring it to life
with their own ideas.
 Sets are the scenery, backdrops, and furniture that
create the setting. A production may have different
sets for different scenes. For example, some scenes may
take place outside in the street, while others may take
place in a character’s living room. Some scenes may
take place during the day, while others may take place
at night.
 Props are things like books, telephones, dishes, and
other items that actors use onstage during the
performance to support the action.
Stage directions
 Stage directions are notes in the script usually written in
italics and enclosed in parentheses or brackets. They
usually describe where and when a scene takes place
(setting), how the characters should say their lines, and
how the characters should move onstage. They may
explain the character’s mood or how the character is
 Stage directions may also describe sets, costumes, props,
lighting, and sound effects.
 Stage directions use certain terms to describe the stage.
Look at the following slide and see how.
Audience Faces Stage
Downstage Left
Downstage Center
Downstage Right
Stage Left
Center Stage
Stage Right
Upstage Left
Upstage Center
Upstage Right
A Stage Map for Actors – All Directions Are Given From Actors’ Point of View
 A dramatization is a play that was once a novel, short
story, folk tale, biography, or other type of writing.
Some plays are completely new works. Other plays are
adapted from novels, short stories, or even from
nonfiction. A playwright takes scenes, characters, and
action from an existing work and turns them into a
play, or dramatizes them.
How is a play divided?
 A play is largely divided up into parts, or acts. The
number of acts in a production can range from one to
five, depending on how a writer structures the outline
of the story. The length of time for an act to be
performed can range from 30 to 90 minutes.
 Acts may be further divided into scenes; in classical
theatre each regrouping between entrances and exits
of actors is a scene, while today it describes a quick
change of setting.
Remember- People Produce Plays
 The actors and actresses who perform the play are known
as the cast. The people who build sets, manage lighting,
or work backstage are called the crew.
 The playbill is a guide to the show for the audience. It
credits the cast and crew involved in the production. It
may also contain pictures of the actors, a list of characters,
the acts and scenes in the show, and any musical numbers
if it is a musical. The playbill may also list other shows
each actor has been in.
Going to the Theater
Theater Etiquette
 All of the people involved in the production, both cast
and crew, work very hard to be sure they give a great
performance. It is the job of the audience members to
help the performers give their best performance
possible. The audience can do this by practicing the
rules of theater etiquette, which is how the audience
should behave when watching a play.
Rules of Theater Etiquette
 Be on time to the theater. Turn off cell phones upon arrival.
 Pay attention to announcements that are made before the
show about the rules of the theater you are attending and the
location of the fire exits.
 Remember that the Overture (introductory music) in
Musical Theater is part of the performance, so be quiet when
it begins.
Rules of Theater Etiquette
 Do not take pictures during the performance. It can be very
distracting to the actors and could cause an accident.
 You should use the restroom before the show begins, and not
get out of your seat while the show is being performed.
 You should not eat, chew gum, or drink any beverages while
watching the show. . If you must have a cough drop, or
something of that nature, do not make noise with the
Rules of Theater Etiquette
 Don't speak during the
is still speaking, so only in
an emergency.
 While it is appropriate to
respond to funny,
shocking, or entertaining
moments out loud, you
should respect others
around you and their
enjoyment of the play by
not responding with loud,
inappropriate reactions.
Rules of Theater Etiquette
 If you must leave, exit during intermission. In an
emergency, wait for an appropriate break in the show. It is
rude to get up in the middle of a quiet moment...rude to the
actors and your fellow audience members.
 Do not put your feet up on the seats or balcony and do not
kick the seat in front of you. Don't put or throw anything on
the stage.
When Should You Applaud?
 Stand and applaud if you really thought the show was
great. That is a called a standing ovation, and it honors
the actors who worked so hard to give a great
performance. It is customary to applaud at the end of
songs, and at the curtain call, when the actors come out
to take their final bows. Throughout the show, audience
members may choose to applaud when something
particularly 0utstanding has just been performed. Do not
whistle or scream out to the performers except for a Bravo.
(Whether you are reading drama or watching a
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