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Knowledge About Language: Drama. Drama: What is it? To understand some of the terms that you are going to be introduced to, you have to know one thing.

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Presentation on theme: "Knowledge About Language: Drama. Drama: What is it? To understand some of the terms that you are going to be introduced to, you have to know one thing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Knowledge About Language: Drama

2 Drama: What is it? To understand some of the terms that you are going to be introduced to, you have to know one thing first of all. Drama (and theatre itself) started a few thousand years ago in around 600BC in Greece. That means that a lot of terms relating to drama are Greek and, amazingly, we still use them to describe ideas and techniques in plays today. Drama came from religious rites that involved drinking a lot of alcohol, then sacrificing animals and (possibly) humans. The tribe from Northern Greece that invented drama, so to speak, also worshipped Dionysus, the God of fertility and procreation. Look those words up and you can probably guess another thing that they did, as well as the activities mentioned above…but enough about that!

3 How did Drama come from all that? If you have been to the theatre nowadays, you will probably be wondering how the activities mentioned overleaf ended up leading to plays and drama being invented. What happened is that worshippers of Dionysus started acting out supposed adventures that the god had experienced, and they also developed chants, music and lyrics over the years as part of their rituals. This all resulted in the birth of drama.

4 DRAMA TERMS – THE BASICS You should already be familiar with these words which apply to drama as well as other types of text like Film or Prose. A dramatist (writer of plays) will always have these elements in his or her play. CONFLICTPLOT CHARACTERISATIONDIALOGUE THEMESETTING Before you move on, your teacher will check that you are secure in your understanding of these basic terms.

5 Stage Directions This is the name given to instructions that are included in dramascripts that tell actors how and where to move, as well as how to deliver lines. Therefore, stage directions are an important part of plays whether you are performing them as an actor or reading the play in class.


7 PROTAGONIST This word is used to describe the main character in the play. Usually, but not always, the audience will sympathise with the protagonist. Often the protagonist is a hero and a character we are meant to admire. On occasion, the protagonist can be flawed and sometimes unlikeable or a criminal, but even if we do not agree with what he or she does, the protagonist is usually the most complex and interesting character in the play and we are meant to empathise with him/her.

8 ANTAGONIST This word is used to describe the main character that opposes the protagonist or hero in a play. Often we are hostile or unsympathetic towards the antagonist.

9 TRAGEDY What do you think this word means? Write down a definition in your jotter.

10 TRAGEDY - DEFINITION Tragedy is used these days to describe a terrible situation or disastrous event. However, it has a very specific meaning in terms of drama. It is used to describe a play in which the main character suffers distress, extreme sorrow or even death. The important idea in a tragic play is that the character’s downfall or ruin is caused by a flaw in his or her character.

11 COMEDY Again, write down a definition of what you think this word means.

12 COMEDY - DEFINITION A play that is a comedy will have a humorous tone. However, it does not necessary have a lot of jokes or laugh out loud moments. It will, however, have a happy ending and usually end in marriage. There will be conflict in comedies. However, while a tragic character’s conflict leads to death, in comedies, the conflicts are resolved in a happy and light-hearted way. Often comedies have two characters who fall in love and overcome various obstacles before getting married in the end.

13 Catharsis This word is used to describe the response of the audience to intense emotional moments in a play. Its original Greek meaning is to purify or make clean. How does watching characters express extreme emotions or suffer tragic events help make the audience clean or more pure? See if you can answer that…spend a few minutes discussing the question with a partner. Then the next slide will help you make sense of it if you have struggled to come up with an answer.

14 Catharsis Good drama helps the viewer identify with the experiences, especially sorrowful ones, of characters in a play. Drama can evoke powerful emotions, and people who watch it and are moved leave the theatre with a greater understanding of life due to what they have seen the characters in the play suffering. It is claimed that a cathartic experience for the audience leads to them releasing their own emotions and leaving the theatre refreshed and feeling a sense of relief. It is also suggested that, by watching characters experience extreme emotion and suffering in play, we can learn lessons that help us to live better lives.

15 HUBRIS Yep – another Greek word. This one is easy to understand. It is used to describe a character acting with excessive pride or self-confidence, in other words being big-headed or over-ambitious. In plays, hubris – like pride in real life – often leads to a fall. Characters that display hubris are usually punished for it and it leads to them suffering in some way.

16 PATHOS Yep – Greek again. This one is also easy to understand. It is used to describe when the audience feels an emotional response (usually pity or sympathy) to a character in a play.

17 CLIMAX This word describes the moment in a play that everything else is building up to. It is usually a scene involving emotion or drama or excitement and is usually at (or near) the end.

18 SOLILOQUY In films or television programmes or novels, when a writer wants to reveal what a character is thinking, it is fairly easy. The director of a film might include a voiceover describing the character’s thoughts. The author of a book can just describe what a character is thinking. In a play if the dramatist wants to let the audience know what is going on inside the head of one of the characters, a soliloquy is used.

19 What is a soliloquy then…? The first time you see a soliloquy in a play, it is rather strange. A character will turn to the audience and start speaking his/her thoughts aloud. However, other characters on stage do not hear what he/she is saying, even if they are standing well within earshot. It is the way that we get to learn what the character’s thoughts.

20 HAMARTIA This is another fancy Greek word that is easy enough to understand. It is used to describe a tragic hero or protagonist’s fatal flaw. In other words, it is the part of their personality that leads to their downfall and, in tragedies, usually this means their death. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist’s hamartia is ambition, which leads to him committing murder to gain the Scottish crown but then he is punished and destroyed by other characters for his crime.

21 Testing Times You will be split into groups of 3-4. Each group is going to be given a dramatic term on a piece of paper. You will have 3 minutes to remember the definition you have been given for the term. Then you will provide your definition to the rest of the class.

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