1.Theme: The ability to say what the circumstances allow and what is appropriate to them (the central idea that emerges from the dramatic action of the play) THEME IS NEVER A MESSAGE OR A STATEMENT IMPOSED UPON THE ACTION BY THE PLAYWRIGHT
2.Plot: The arrangement (structure) of the incidents in a story WHO IS DOING WHAT TO WHOM WHERE, WHEN AND WHY?
ELEMENTS OF PLOT A. Point of Attack: The point of time in the play when the dramatic action begins B. Exposition: Incidents or events from the past or happenings outside of the play of which the audience must be aware of in order to comprehend characters and plot
ELEMENTS OF PLOT C. Preparation: The earlier “planting” of certain information, so that a particular character or scene will be believable D. Conflict: An internal struggle within one person or between two or more characters; THE HEART OF THE PLOT
ELEMENTS OF PLOT E. Complications: The introduction of a fact or character already in the play that grows out of the conflict and delays the climax F. Crisis: The protagonist has to make a major decision that is also a key turning point in the dramatic action.
ELEMENTS OF PLOT G. Dramatic Question or Problem: The suspense question related to the fate of the central character’s major goal. H. Climax: The highest emotional peak in a play.
ELEMENTS OF PLOT I. Resolution: The point after the climax, during which any remaining questions are answered
3. Characters: The agents of the incidents A. Central Characters: These are characters around whom the dramatic action revolves or who have the dominant objective in the play B. Opposing Characters: These are characters who provide the basic obstacles by blocking the central character’s objective C. Contributing Characters: These are characters who line up with other characters
4. Music: Any music that may appear in the play 5. Dialogue: The diction of the play. Simply, it is what the character says and how he or she says it, be it street language, poetry or slang 6. Spectacle: The embellishments of a play. All the visual elements: scenery, costumes, lighting, movement, gestures, and other elements.
Aristotle’s Two Major Production Styles STAGE AS A PICTURE These are attempts to create a realistic picture or illusion of life as though you were peeking through a fourth wall STAGE AS A PLATFORM Presents life on stage rather than represents a picture. State is a stage, no pretense of realism
A. Tragedy: Themes are serious in depth and worthiness; the central character (hero) struggles to overcome overpowering obstacles but instead is overcome by them, resulting in death B. Drama: Themes are serious in nature; but unlike tragedy, the central character in overcoming obstacles does not die at the end of the play
C. Melodrama: Themes are exaggerated in their seriousness; the central characters overcome villains in sensational plots usually crowded with action and conflict D. Comedy: A humorous play with light or serious themes whose central characters succeed in overcoming all obstacles (High Comedy, Serious Comedy, Satire, Farce, Situation Comedy & Low Comedy)
E. Fantasy: A serious or humorous play in which “unreal” characters with human traits overcome obstacles in a land of make-believe F. Allegory: A play serious or humorous, often written in a poetic or fairy-tale style feature abstract characters
DON’T GET TRAPPED BY DEFINITIONS OR TERMS - WRITE YOUR PLAY AND LET OTHERS TELL YOU WHAT THEY THINK IT IS.
G. One-Act: One Sitting - One Setting - One Sighting Should impress upon its audience one basic idea or theme explored as fully as possible within a short time span Should have only ONE single dramatic action Should have only a FEW characters Should NOT contain long “talky” speeches Should use only ONE set
SHOW VS. TELL The essential difference is that a story TELLS what took place, while a play SHOWS what is actually taking place (The stage shows what we see in our minds on the page) DRAMATIC CLOCK On the stage there is a built in urgency, a “dramatic clock” of sorts, which helps to coalesce elements of conflict, crisis, and suspense to heighten the emotional response of the audience
PAST VS. PRESENT TENSE The action of the play takes place in a “perpetual present time.” On the stage it is always “now.” UNITY OF ACTION, TIME AND PLACE The incidents of the play occur in a unifying way that will make sense to an audience member
1. GET AN IDEA: Ideas come in two forms - Personal Experience & Imagined Experience
1. DON’T OVERLOAD THE INCIDENTS IN A PLOT 2. DON’T USE A NARRATOR OR CENTRAL CHARACTER TO TELL EVENTS - WHEN THE EVENTS CAN BE DRAMATIZED 3. DO NOT CRAM AN IDEA DOWN THE AUDIENCE’S THROAT - YOU DON’T NEED TO BE A PHILOSOPHER OR SAINT YOUR ONLY REQUIREMENT IS ART
1. KEEP A JOURNAL FOR IDEAS & NOTES 2. WRITE A BUNCH AT ONE TIME 3. NOTHING IS TRULY ORIGINAL – DON’T STRESS ABOUT COPYING OR FOLLOWING ANOTHER PLOT 4. PLOT OUT FIRST – THEN WRITE DIALOGUE 5. VOICE IT FOR PARTICULAR PEOPLE