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Presentation on theme: "ROUTINE, CONFLICT, STATUS GAMES Literary Kinds: Drama (I)"— Presentation transcript:


2 Drama basis: our human instinct to play, to imitate “There seem to be two causes that give rise to poetry in general, and they are both natural. The impulse to imitate is inherent in man from his childhood; he is distinguished among the animals by being the most imitative of them, and he takes the first steps of his education by imitating. Every one's enjoyment of imitation is also inborn. What happens with works of art demonstrates this.” Aristotle, Poetics iv. tr. L.J. Potts (Cambridge 1959)

3 DRAMA IS NOT PRIMARILY A LITERARY ART Shakespeare in translation (even adaptation) a good production even if you do not speak the language MEDIUM: the theatre immediacy of action group effort for a group audience multimedial form of presentation succession and simultaneity: sequentiality & juxtaposition

4 Drama and theatre Greek 'theory': of viewing, not doing — from Gk theoreo 'behold' THEATRE: another mode of contemplation — from Gk theaomai 'behold' the feeling of belonging to society - people with similar problems, conventions, belief, behaviour

5 Theatre presentation of conflicts in extremis & problem solving patterns identification, catharsis (Gk 'purgation') - social healing function 'Tragedy through pity and fear effects a purgation of such emotions‘ (Aristotle, Poetics. Ch VI) identification - deception - dramatic surprise: repeatable because of the richnesss of context

6 Levels of awareness in the dramatic figures and the audience 'willing suspension of disbelief ' (Coleridge, Biographia Literaria. Chapter XIV) - stories are often familiar (Gk drama, new productions, seeing sg again) 'alienation effect' (A-effect, Verfremdungseffekt, Bertolt Brecht) dramatic irony: when the internal and external communication systems interfere with each other (superior awareness of audience)

7 Aspects of a play: Plot imitation of life, of action + probability, credibility events are not dramatic in themselves presenting the story: succession, concentration, segmentation, composition story: purely chronologically arranged succession of events & occurrences plot: already contains important structural elements: e.g., the presentation of time - order of scenes vs order of events in story fictional time vs actual performance time

8 Aspects of a play (continued) action: the intentionally chosen transition from one situation to the next event: condition for story are met, but not for action: no intention to change the situatio CHARACTER - types and individuals DIALOGUE - dramatic speech situations

9 Astonishment and suspense stories as routines: kissing the frog, killing dragon *break the routine just established: Little Red Riding Hood, (breaking routine on large scale: Shrek) *keep action onstage: messenger in Greek drama: the effect unity of plot + time and place (Aristotle) 3 unities of action, time & place (French Neoclassical critics) Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (– Dr Johnson, 1765) *revolve around conflict – otherwise you cancel story -

10 Astonishment and suspense cont. *revolve around conflict – otherwise you cancel story - e.g., Hamlet's quest for truth and revenge NOTA BENE: Hitchcock: secret of suspense lay not in what is withheld from an audience but in what the audience thought it knew

11 Conflict opposition between a character and some other force - protagonist and antagonist (Othello-Iago) - protagonist and society (Moliere's Misanthrope) - protagonists and external forces, e.g., Fate in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex - opposition of forces within character (inner conflict) - opposition of ideas, values, ways of life, as objectified in the conflicts

12 Status sg characters DO: the status PLAYED vs social status difference in the status you play and you think you play (e.g., modesty as arrogance) see-saw principle: kings and their fools: raising your status = lowering the other person's status e.g.: CUSTOMER: 'Ere, there's a cockroach in the loo! BARMAID: Well you'll have to wait till he's finished, won't you? (friends: when you AGREE to play status games together )

13 Status in comedy and tragedy COMEDY: when character is losing status if we do not have sympathy with him/her TRAGEDY: see-saw principle: the ousting of a high-status animal from the pack (persons to be executed: make a 'good end', i.e., play high status)

14 Tragedy and comedy ideas about genre often made to conform with social ideas: tragedy: concerned with kings & princes see as fit entertainment for kings & princes (who are capable of suffering it in life, who have further to fall than other man, which will affect many others) => significant tragic action comedy: even the harshest misfortunes of commoners

15 Roots of drama preservation of pagan rites, prehistoric vegetation rituals England: sword dances, mummers' plays (Christmastide) Greek tragedy: from rites associated with death comedy: from celebration of fertility

16 Playing tragedy special high-status style in English for playing tragedy: no fast movements, no fidgeting, nothing trivial or repetitive; vs 'normal consciousness' (tensing muscles, shifting position, scratching, sighing, yawning - see audiences when 'the spell is broken')

17 Status games SPACE - status is territorial: man on a bench - beach scenes - view master-servant scenes: place belongs to master PLAY: displays and reverses the status between the characters; status transactions in conflict

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