ENGLISH CREATIVE WRITING 2009 Drama 9 May tutor Dr. Jack shu.
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ENGLISH CREATIVE WRITING 2009 Drama 9 May tutor Dr. Jack shu
Elements of Drama Action, Conflict, Tension and Context Character/Actor and Characterisation
Dramatic action Through action—what the characters do and achieve throughout the whole story (driven by super-objectives), e.g. Mr. Bean (tries to) pass the examination Scene/Unit action(s)—what the characters do in individual scene/unit of an episode (driven by objectives), e.g. Mr. Bean looks at the answer paper, blows up the paper, etc
The protagonist’s predicament (the character’s struggles/conflicts) Drama is a representation of the will of man in conflict with the mysterious powers or natural forces which limit and belittle us; it is one of us thrown upon the stage, there to struggle
Cont’d against fatality, against social law, against one of his fellow-mortals, against himself, if need be, against the interests, the prejudices, the folly, the malevolence of those who surround him. --Ferdinand Brunetiere (1914)
Predicament/Struggle/Conflict There are 3 types of conflicts: “Human” vs Self Physiological Psychological “Human” vs “Human” Individual Group “Human” vs Nature Supernatural Natural
Tension The tension of the Task, ie dramatic action The tension of the Relationship The tension of the Mystery, usually related to some supernatural forces or strange things deliberately unexplained --adapted from John O’Toole Tension is the felt force resulting from a conflict.
Tension and human relationship An interest in the way that people relate to each other is a particular feature of modern drama, just as in modern communications studies there is an interest in what is called ‘inter-personal’ communications. This is all partly a result of the developing science of psychology that was in its infancy when Ibsen wrote his first naturalistic play in the late nineteenth century…
Cont’d (living drama vs dramatic life) Modern playwrights are operating in a world that generally attempts to explain people’s behaviour in rational, scientific terms and that sees individuals as needing to succeed in their personal relationships in order to achieve a sense of well- being and social adjustment. Social order and personal happiness are threatened by tensions between individuals or groups; tensions force us into playing different roles, adapting our behaviour to suit a situation, while tensions themselves may also become obsessive fears. --Kenneth Pickering
Character Wants What are the super-objectives of the main characters? What do the main character want to happen in the scenes they appear in? Are there conflicts or tensions between what different characters want? Do the main characters wants significantly change or create contradictions?
Character Moral stance How do culture, morality and upbringing shape the main characters’ behaviours? How does the main characters moral stance encourage, justify or constrain the fulfilment of their wants?
Character/Actor What does the personality of an actor affect the presentation of a character? (e.g. Rowen Atkinson, Stephen Chow, etc) What is the effect of casting on a character’s meaning? Theatrical sign systems: e.g. white beard could mean old age (iconically) or wise (symbolically); a pair of big eyes with thick eyebrows could give a funny/fierce character (iconically) or could draw audience’s attention (deictically)
Themes in Frankenstein Companionship Revenge Sacrifice Fame Love Self-understanding Death
Tasks Task 1 Choose a theme, create a piece of 5-min drama in groups of 4-6. Not more than 3 scenes. Task 2 Show the piece; give feedback. Task 3 Improve the piece and rehearse. Task 4 Show the piece again; give feedback. Task 5 Write down the lines and submit in-class.