The Study of Drama - Modle for Drama Club

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    THE STUDY OF DRAMAby Shaik Husseinudin b Babu Ali

    INTRODUCTION

    The first part of this topic will provide you with a basic understanding of the features

    of this genre. It will also take you on a short historical tour of the evolution ofWestern drama so that you can have a clearer understanding ofhow this genre has

    evolved to be what it is now. In addition to this, you might also find it useful to knowsome of the basic conventions of drama, where you will get to know about the various

    types of Western drama performed around the world.The second part of this topicwill expose you briefly to the various elements in drama and dramatic devices used in

    drama so that you'll be able to analyse drama which will in turn give you a more

    comprehensive understanding of what you watch or read.

    OBJECTIVES

    By theend of this topic, you should be able to:y list and briefly explain the conventions of drama

    y describe briefly thehistory of western drama

    y define and explain the types of drama

    y define and explain theelements in drama

    y define and explain dramatic devices

    TOPIC MIND MAP

    Take a look at the mind-map below. It will give you a clearer understanding of what

    this w

    hole

    topic is all about.

    Introduction to Drama

    y Conventions of Drama

    y Historical Background

    y Types of Drama

    Elements in Dramay Plots & Sub-plots

    y Characters &Relationships

    y Point of View

    y Setting

    Dramatic Devisesy Dramatic Irony

    y Soliloquy &Monologue

    y Comic Relief

    THE STUDY OFDRAMA

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    1. DEFINITION OF DRAMA

    Take a couple of minutes to ask yourself what you understand by the term

    'Drama'. Compare your idea with the two definitions provided below. THINK

    Drama is usually a literary work or story written in dialogue form for the purposeof being performed before an audience by actors on a stage.

    (Morner, K.& Rausch, R. 1998:58)

    Drama is a written script with stage directions, character parts, and divisions into

    acts and scenes that is performed in front of an audience by actors who take on the

    roles of characters and who present the story through dialogue and action.

    (Kirszner, L & Mandell, S. 2004:595)

    Were the definitions similar to your own?

    Please note that these definitions might not be applicable to what is known as 'closet

    drama', which is drama that is written only for the purpose of reading and not forperformance.

    2. CONVENTIONS OF DRAMA

    Brainstorm and list all the things that are needed for the production of a

    Play. THINK

    List of things I

    need to put up a

    Pla .....

    Script

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    Check your list with the list below. Did you manage to identity all of

    them? Below are some of the basic essentials needed in producing a

    play.SELF

    CHECK

    1. A script or a written play.

    2. A theatre or a stage for the performance to take place. Please refer to the

    sections below for a more detailed description of the various types of stages

    that are available.

    3. A director whose main role is to, 'establish the nature of the play, show,entertainment, opera etc. which is to be realised in production' (Banks,

    1985:298). What is important is, 'the director's interpretation of a play andless on the playwright's intentions'.(Cook, 1983:155).

    4. Actors who ideally capable of communicating the message of the play to the

    audience and leave a lasting impression in the minds of the viewers.

    5. The costume designer whose task is to design appropriate costumes

    according to the setting presented.

    6. The master carpenter and his workers, whose job is to design sets for theplay.

    7. The sound operator, whose function is to manage and monitor the sound

    effects or recorded music so that it matches the action on the stage.

    8. The lighting operator, whose duty is to control and manage the relevant

    lighting effects.

    9. The stage manager whose job is to take charge of the stage and the people

    involved and ensure the smooth running of the play.

    10. The producer or the person who provides funding for the production.

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    3. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

    Take a look at the pictures below.

    Have you ever seen them before? What do you think they are? Where do

    you think they come from?

    Read the section on Greek theatre and you will find out.

    THINK

    Figure 1: Stylised masks or Persona

    3.1 GREEK THEATRE

    The origins of western drama can be traced to Ancient Greece where the performance

    of drama was a part of the Spring religious festival. People wrote plays and

    performed them at religious gatherings where the plays had the dual function of acompetition as well as an offering for theentertainment of the gods and the people.

    The plays were performed during the day, at an open-air, semi-circular theatre thatwas built on the slopes ofhills. It would have looked like our modern day sports

    stadiums, but except for the bleachers, seats would have been carved out of the slopes.In the middle of the theatre, there was an area called the orchestra where a 'chorus'or

    a group of men sang and chanted.Behind this place, there was a platform which wasraised a little from the ground where the actors, who were also all men, performed.

    Rolling carts and cranes were used to move characters or to lower and lift things from

    the roof.Behind this platform or stage was a 'skene'which was a building that was used as a

    resting place, exit and entrance for the actors.

    Figure 2

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    In Greek theatre usually dealt with stories based on ancient Greek mythology orcomedies that satirized the religious and social issues of that time. There were only

    about three main characters and the main character or the'protagonist' was the onewho had the most number of dialogue. The other actors had non-speaking roles. The

    actors used stylised masks or'persona'to play various characters.

    Classical greek theatre kept the place, action and time together in a very compact way.This is known as keeping to thethree unities.

    Greek plays were divided into five parts. The first, the prologue or'prolagos'was

    where an actor would give the background information about the story which would

    enable the audience to keep up with the rest of the story. Then, came the second part

    known as 'parados' the chorus would come in to comment or summarise what had

    happen as well as predict what is to come.

    The third part comprised the 'episodia' where the characters came on stage and

    developed the conflict in the play. This part was alternated with choral odes and

    comments called 'stasimon'. The play was ended with an 'exodus'or the last scene

    where the conflicts were resolved.

    Can you think of a traditional local drama that makes use of actors and achorus (traditionally all male) in which the actors present a sketch and the

    chorus comments on the action and summarizes the theme for theaudience?

    THINK

    The answer? It is very popular in Pulau Pinang. It has five letters and

    begins with a B . HINT

    You can access the following website for a more detailed description

    of Greek Drama.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_drama

    WEBSITE

    3.2 ELIZABETHAN THEATRE

    Figure 3

    Do you recognize these people above? Do you know why they werefamous? What do you think was the nature of their relationship?

    Read the section on Elizabethan theatre to find out.YOUR

    IDEA

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    The origins of Elizabethan theatre, which was strongly influenced by Greek andRoman drama traditions, can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries. They

    were usually performed during medieval festivals and they were known as mysteryplays or morality plays. Mystery plays were plays that depicted stories from the bible

    which told the stories of the prophets from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Morality

    plays, on the otherhand, were plays that portrayed an allegory of the Christian way of

    life. They would often deal with the struggles of the common man in his attempts tofight against the forces or influences of good and evil both within him as well as those

    that influencehim from the outside.

    Around the 16th century, the appeal of mystery and morality drama was superceded

    by more popular plays based on non-religious issues such as revenge, war, murder

    and politics.

    What is known as Shakespearean theatrehas its beginnings at the GlobeTheatre in

    England.

    Figure 4: Globe Theatre

    Shakespearean plays were performed by an all male cast, during the daytime, in anopen air yard that could accommodate around 2000 people. It had a large stage that

    extended out into the open air yard and had no curtains. Theextended stage allowedpeople to view the play from three sides. The back area of the stage had a room

    behind that was covered with a curtain that also served as a backdrop. This place was

    used by the actors to disappear behind the main stage and it was also used to arrange

    props for the scenes. The roof of the stage was called 'the heavens'and it had pulleys