Introduction to Drama Mr. Jeffery Boggan
What is Drama? • Drama is a type of literature that is primarily written to be performed for an audience. When reading a play, it is important to keep certain features of drama in mind. Some of these features relate to drama as literature; others reflect its character as a performance.
History… • Greek Drama 500-400 B.C. • Medieval: The Middle Ages 1200-1500 AD • Elizabethan & Jacobean 1500-1642 • Restoration & 18th Cent. Drama 1660-1800 • Romantic Era 1800-1880 • Modern Era 1850-Present
Types of Drama - Tragedy • Tragedy: A play in which the main character experiences disaster, but faces this downfall in such a way as to attain heroic stature. • Even though Tragedies are “gloomy” they are triumphant, because they inspire exaltation at the greatness human beings can attain even in defeat.
Comedy • Comedy closes with a peaceful resolution of the main conflict. • High Comedy: The humor arises from subtle characterization, social satire, and sophisticated wit. • Low Comedy: Emphasizes absurd dialogue, bawdy jokes, visual gags, and physical humor.
Types of Comedy • Romantic Comedy: The main characters are lovers, and the plot tends to follow the pattern of “boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again.” • Satiric Comedy: Uses humor to ridicule foolish ideas or customs with the purpose of improving society. • Comedy of Manners: Satirizes the vices and follies of the upper class.*
Additional Forms of Drama • Farce: Relies on exaggeration, absurdity, and slapstick • Straight Drama or Drama: Deals with serious subjects, but do not always end in disaster.
Elements of Drama • External Conflict: Pits a character against nature or fate, society, or another character • Internal conflict: Between opposing forces within a character. • Protagonist: The central character of the play and often undergoes radical changes as the action progresses. • Antagonist: The character who opposes the main character
Foil: A minor character whose traits contrast sharply with those of the protagonist • Dialogue: Conversations between characters • Monologue: A long speech spoken by a single character to himself or herself, or to the audience • Soliloquy: A monologue in which a character speaks his or her private thoughts aloud and appears to be unaware of the audience.
Aside: a short speech or comment delivered by a character to the audience, but unheard by the other characters who are present.
Conventions of Drama • Cast of Characters: listed in the beginning of the play, before the action starts. • Act: a major division of a play • Scenes: Major division of an act • Stage Directions: a dramatist’s instructions for performing a play.