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ELEMENTS OF DRAMA / ONE ACT PLAY

A Report Presented to: Prof. Rosario Dumagpi Division of Professional Education University of the Philippines Visayas

Submitted by: Ma. Luisa P. Alba M Ed. ESL- II August 14, 2010
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DRAMA WHAT IS DRAMA? Drama is a literary composition to be acted by players on a stage before an audience. Its successful portrayal depends on the cooperation that must exist among writers, actors, producers and audiences in accepting the limitations and the conventions of the stage. Since the turn of the twentieth century, modern drama has become the greatest form of mass entertainment in the western world. Experimentation and innovation are basic to this centurys dramatist. Through movies and television, everyone has experienced the excitement and emotional involvement that gives the drama its important place in our lives today. The drama is difficult to read because it is meant to be seen, not read. It demands much imagination and attention on the part of the reader to enable him to hear the tones and see the actions of the actors against an imaginary background. The reader has only the dialogue form which to visualize the costumes, the situation, the facial expressions, and the movements of the actors.

The drama is also difficult to write because the playwright must be aware of the interests and opinions of the actors and producer as well as his audience. He must also recognize the limitation of the stage and work within the many conventions and restrictions it imposes on the actions of his characters and the locations of his settings. ELEMENTS OF THE DRAMA A. Setting B. Plot and Plot structures C. Characters and Characterization D. Conflict E. Theme F. Suspense and Atmosphere

The literary elements of the drama include setting, plot, characters and theme. Essential to the effective presentation of these elements are conflict, structure, suspense and atmosphere. Each of these elements are inherent in any narrative composition, but drama adds extra elements of stage direction, lighting effects, and the visual presence of the actors, the set and costumes.

A. Setting The setting of a drama presented on stage must be adapted to the limitations of the stage area. The playwright must confine his locations to scenes that can be constructed on the stage and limited to as a few changes as possible. The actions must be physically restricted on the stage, and depend on dialogue, lighting, and sound effects to carry the actions and events that cannot be presented visually. It is this physical confinement that makes writing plays more difficult than any other narrative form.

B. Plot
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The plot of the drama, although limited in its physical actions and changes of location or scene, is similar to that of the novel or short story. It must have the same characteristics of development and structuring, and depend on conflict, suspense and mood to carry the action forward.
1. Technical Divisions Acts and scenes are the divisions of a play. Shakespeares

plays are mainly five acts in length, with many changes of scene with each act. However, the modern theatre audience is accustomed to sitting for only two to three hours to watch a play. This means the average modern play must be limited to three acts, which also has the benefit of keeping set changes minimum. A few modern plays run longer and have five or six acts.

2. Structure of the play: The technical development or structuring of the action in a

drama is similar to that of a novel:

A preliminary exposition opens up the play, presenting background information and any necessary explanation of the situation. It introduces the characters.

The moment of inciting force follows the preliminary exposition in which the conflict is presented and the main action begins.

The rising action then develops through a series of incidents and minor crises which lead up to the climax or the turning point of the struggle when the action turns against the protagonist.

The falling action follows the climax as the conflict works itself out either for or against the protagonist.

The denoument presents the final outcomes of the struggle, sometimes referred to as the catastrophe which is the end of the struggle, but it is necessarily a tragic ending.

Diagram of the Six-Fold structure of Drama


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3. Developing the Action

Preliminary Exposition: The beginning must be clear, brief, and interesting. Every detail must have a purpose: characters are introduced in their roles, background information is given, the mood and tone are established, the time and place are given, and any necessary hints at the outcome or suggestion of theme that will give understanding to the plot is provided.

Complications: The complications which keep the plot moving forward must have some basis in real life. They develop through series of crises that move in waves of heightened emotion, all moving upwards to a peak of crisis or climax where the action reverses from the previous rising action and the events go for or against the protagonist towards a final outcome. The falling action, like the rising action, moves in waves of emotional crises. The denoument should be natural in its outcome, inevitable in its solutions, unless it is a surprise ending, and realistic in its purpose.

Suspense: Suspense in situations which rouse our concern for the welfare of the characters can be created in many ways in a play. It can be accomplished through a series of crises and a major crisis or climax, foreshadowing, surprise or use of the unexpected, withholding information, disguise, and the intervention of chance or fate.
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Dramatic Emphasis: Emphasis is maintained by demonstrating every point to the audience. Every scene or conversation between characters must have a purpose; dialogue must not wander away from the major concerns of the plot nor must it be directed towards superfluous or unrelated detail. Exits and entrances must be managed with purpose and be properly timed to gain dramatic emphasis, while maintaining a naturalness that does not destroy the continuity of events. Artistic economy must be observed at all times, permitting no waste of movements, words, or events to obtain an overall unit and emphasis of purpose.

Prologue and Epilogue: A prologue is generally given by an actor before the play begins. Its purpose is to present an explanatory poem or speech that introduces information that is needed to start the play. An epilogue is a speech made by an actor after the play is over. It may be used by the playwright to reveal what happened afterwards or to point out the lesson of the play. In this way he is able to convey the meaning behind his play and its outcomes which could not be done naturally within the plot.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere and mood of the drama is created by the set, the lighting, the furnishings, the music or sound effects, the opening dialogue, the facial expressions and gestures of the actors, and the growing tension of the plot.

Stage Directions and Their Value: As plays are intended to be seen, not read, everything in them, must be seen or heard. All information, emotions, attitudes, and reactions must be presented through speech and action. This means that stage direction must succeed in reaching the audience through effective use of speech, action, furnishing, lighting, exits, entrances, and sound effects. Stage directions must determine the actors movements, choice of costumes, as well as the behaviour of characters and interpretations of their speeches.

C. Characters and Characterization Characters in a play are portrayed by actors who speak the dialogue and carry out the action of the play. Sometimes characters may be merely instruments in the plot; at other times, they have control of the action.

All characters must appear natural so that their motivations and reactions as well as their exits and entrances seem realistic to the audience. Some dramatists introduce a wider range of characters into their plays than other authors. Shakespeare has the widest, most developed range of any playwright.

Characters are developed through their dialogue and their actions. Their dialogue carries the plot and theme of the play and must be adapted to their individual characters. If dialogue is unrealistic, it must still reveal their character.

Characters must be strongly drawn, consistent and believable. Sudden changes in character, inappropriate gestures, wrong dialogue, mistimed facial expressions or smiles when the mood is sad or hostile must be avoided if the play is to be consistent in its portrayal and effective emotionally and intellectually for the audience.

D. Conflict Drama is created by conflict. It usually involves opposing forces, sometimes external and physical, sometimes internal and psychological. There may be a clash of wills in a conflict of purposes, or there may be a mental or emotional conflict within on person.

E. Theme Theme in a drama is similar in its aspects to those of the short story or novel.
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ARISTOTLES SIX ELEMENTS OF DRAMA

1. Action or plot 2. Character 3. Thought 4. Language 5. Song and Dance 6. Spectacle or Visual Excess

Action or plot For Aristotle, a plays action is of the utmost importance. By the term unity of action, he means that the best drama, particularly tragedies, are limitations of an action that is unified and complete. In this instance, unified means that all the scenes in the play are linked together by probability and necessity. That is to say, unlike the historian or journalist who reports events that may be the result of accident or anomaly, the skillful tragedian introduces only those incidents that follow probably or logically from those that precede them. Different plots or actions demand different kinds of characters thought, and language, but all of these elements of drama, originate in a plays action. This action is constructed in a play, which in turn provides the blueprint for performance or the script.

Character - Aristotle believed that dramatic action was so significant that a tragedy cannot exist without a plot, but it can without characters, citing epic poems of his age as
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examples. Nevertheless, the history of drama since Aristotle often appears to suggest just the opposite: that the most influential plays are so influential precisely because they create unique characters or personalities.

Though and Language - Language in drama is generally communicated in one of the three forms: dialogue, monologue (including asides or direct addresses to the audience), and soliloquies. Dialogues like that in Andrs Mother, frequently accomplishes several things at once: It reveals something about the characters speaking; it usually reveals something about his /her attitude towards the characters with whom he or she is speaking and about the topics they are discussing; it may aid in advancing the plot, either by providing necessary exposition of the past or foreshadowing of the future; it may contribute for the or rhythm of the play; it may help orient the audience to the fictive space in which the action occurs; it may imply a larger, meaning, in topic, or issue the play will develop as the action progress.

Spectacle- When Aristotle denigrated the visual adornment of the dramatic persons as the least artistic element or tragic drama, he seemingly was referring to excess: to violence on stage and lavish visual displays. But in fact, drama in performance appeals to both the eye and the ear. This also means the visual elements of the production of a play; the scenery, costumes, and special effects in a production.

TYPES OF DRAMA

A. Historical B. Tragedy C. Comedy D. Social Criticism E. One Act Play

A. HISTORICAL DRAMA:

1. The Medieval Mystery play dealt with stories of the bible and its characters. Gods enactments were dramatized for the congregations who were unable to read or understand the Latin Services. 2. The medieval Miracle Play dramatized the lives of the saints. 3. Chronicle Plays, like the Miracle plays, dealt with the lives of the saints. 4. Masques originally were adaptations of pagan ceremonies in which the actors, wearing masks paraded through the streets and moved in and out of houses, dancing silently and then moving on. Masques became rather elaborate productions during the Elizabethan period. Costume, dancing and singing were more important than the action. Usually allegorical, the actors personified religious, political, satirical or moral qualities.

B. TRAGEDY Is drama which involves the ruin of the leading character(s). Examples are Shakespeares tragedies, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello. Modern tragedy includes Death of a Salesman.

1. Classical Tragedy- as defined by Aristotle is designed to arouse the

emotions of pity and fear and thus to produce in the audience a catharsis of these emotions (relieving of emotional tension). Classical tragedy requires a protagonist to make a choice that is the result of tragic flaw. His choice is an error in judgement which he makes out of excessive pride, ambition or overconfidence; hubris. In doing so, he rises above his place in the natural order of men and gods and takes the life of another human being. His actions bring calamity to all concerned. In Greek tragedy the nemesis or punishment for such hubris was retribution equal to or greater than the offense. In classical tragedy nemesis demands
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the death of the hero in the final scene and generally all those who were implicated in his crime.

2. Elizabethan Tragedy- also has a protagonist who is a tragic hero who

falls victim to a tragic flaw in his character. Pride and ambition lead him to break a moral code or to ignore divine warnings for which he is punished by death. Shakespeares Macbeth, for example, conspires with his wife to kill Banquo so they may usurp the throne Nemesis for such an immoral crime is death for them both, she by illness, resulting from her guilt and ensuing insanity, and Macbeth in battle at the hands of Macduff whose family Macbeth also murdered.

3. Romantic Tragedy- Requires a greater development of character and

theme of plot. Allows for humour and the grotesque. Elizabethan tragedies are mainly romantic tragedies.

4. Modern Tragedy- combines all forms of tragedy and uses plays from each

of the previous centuries. Shakespearean plays continue to find large audiences; and modern tragedies, based on the same Greek and Shakespearean use of the tragic hero with his tragic flaw have become classics of the twentieth century.

C. Comedy is drama which involves real but temporary difficulties of the leading

characters. The ending is happy in that the conflict is resolved to the advantage of the protagonist(s). There are several types of comedy:
1. Farce is comedy which depends wholly on laughable situations. It

involves ridiculous or hilarious complications. The antics of the Three Stooges are farce.

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2. Fantastic Comedy deals with impossible situation in terms of ordinary

human nature. An example is Peter Pan.


3. Comedy of Manners treats of polite society satirically and superficially.

Oscar Wildes Lady Windermeres Fan or James Barries Admirable Creighton are good examples.
4. Tragi-comedy is drama which does not involve death or disaster but

which verges on tragedy or bitter satire. Serious in theme and plot, tragiccomedy seems to be leading to catastrophe, but an unexpected turn of events leads to a happy conclusion. Shakespeares Merchant of Venice uses this to present this infamous Shylock.
5. Melodrama depends on exciting scenes, overly dramatic characters and

situation, and highly charged emotional reactions, while paying little attention to human values or reality. It aims at emotional thrills, but not laughter.
6. Burlesque depends on laughable or exaggerated imitations of well known

characters or events. D. Drama of Social Criticism This category includes plays in which social, economic or political problems and themes are portrayed. Many modern plays on stage, screen, and television fall into this category. One-Act Plays Is similar to a short story in its limitations. There is a complete drama within one act. It is brief, condensed, and single in effect. One situation or episode is presented, permitting no minor plots or side actions that may distract attention for the single purpose and effect being developed. Characters are few in number, quickly introduced, and very limited in character development. Dialogue and plot must carry the action forward smoothly and quickly.

ONE ACT PLAY


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A one-act play is a play that has only one act, as distinct from plays that occur over several acts. One-act plays may consist of one or more scenes. In recent years the 10-minute play known as "flash drama" has emerged as a popular sub-genre of the one-act play, especially in writing competitions. The origin of the one-act play may be traced to the very beginning of drama: in ancient Greece, Cyclops, a satyr play by Euripides, is an early example. Like all drama, one act plays are made up of the same elements that are necessary for short stories : Theme, Plot, Character, and dialogue.

Theme The one-act needs to have a theme or thought just as a full-length does. What is the play about? Revenge? Self-discovery? Whatever your choice, it needs to be clear in your mind what your theme is. In a full-length play, all characters, plots, and subplots need to point to and support the theme. The one-act is not much different, except the subplots will likely be absent. Plot This is much different in the one-act than in the full-length. For a full-length play, the plot is the series and sequence of events that lead the hero (and the audience) on the journey. In a one-act play there is really only time for one significant event. This is the determining place for the hero, where all is won or lost. Events that lead up to this must be incorporated into the script without the benefit of the audience seeing them. And any events that follow must be inferred or understood by the audience that they will occur.

Character There is really only enough time in this to get to know one character well -- the hero. In the short time that the one-act play is going, it is the hero's event that the audience is experiencing; again, there isn't time for more than that. Some characteristics of the supporting

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characters, including the antagonist, will need to be portrayed for the story to move forward, but it is the character of the protagonist that is vital to the story line. Dialogue Economy is the key here. Each line must be crafted carefully to focus on the theme, the incident, and the character of the protagonist. The dialogue need not be terse, but must be concise and full of meaning. Any lines that do not point to the focus of the play should be carefully considered whether they are needed.

Dramatic Analysis and Construction of the One-Act- Play

1. The Theme of the On-Act play 2. The Technic of the one act play a. The characters in the one act play b. The plot of the one act play 1. The beginning of the one act play 2. The middle of the play 3. The end of the play A. Dialogue of the play

THE INTERPRETATION OF DRAMA Interpretation is a series of intellectual and analytical mental acts that lead to a conclusion about the plays meaning and significance. We can isolate four aspects of interpretation that we perform almost automatically. 1. Observe details of speech, setting, and action.
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2. Connect these details into patterns; we relate them so they begin to make sense to us. 3. Draw inferences ----educated guess or hypotheses----- based on these connections. 4. Formulate from our inferences a consistent and coherent interpretation of the play. In reading (or viewing ) any play, it is important to distinguish between our experience of a play and our interpretation of it. Our experience concerns our direct apprehension of the ongoing performance either on stage or in our minds eye; interpretation concerns our comprehension of the work after we have finished reading or seeing it performed. Our experience of a play involves our emotions and subjective impressions of the plays dramatic action. Our interpretation of a play involves our ideas and thought about the meaning of that action. Our experience of a play is private, personal, and subjective: we discover how it entertains, moves, pleases, frustrates, or otherwise affects us. In interpreting a play, we try to discover what it might mean for others as well. We ask ourselves not so much: How do I respond to the speech and actions of the characters? but instead What do their speech and actions signify: what do they mean?

THE EVALUATION OF DRAMA What do we mean by the values displayed in a play? Generally speaking, we mean such things as cultural attitudes, moral dispositions, religious beliefs, and social norms. In considering such values as they emerge from our reading of any play, we should be careful to distinguish between the attitudes and dispositions of individual characters and those of the play (those of the author). We should also be aware of how our social and perspectives may differ in important ways from the social norms and cultural attitudes of earlier times. To acknowledge how our individual way of responding to a play is influenced by gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as religious and cultural identity, is important in assessing its worth both for ourselves and for others. Since the values a plays characters display typically constitute an important focus of dramatic interest, our perception of the characters values will affect to a considerable degree, or own experience, interpretation, and evaluation of the overall work.
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Further complicating our evaluation of a play is the extent to which we appreciate and enjoy its literary and theatrical artistry. For example, we may admire the way playwrights structure plots, largely by dangling before us a series of temporarily unanswered questions. We may find merit in portrayals of characters or the symbolic use of costume and setting. We may be affected by the language of the play, both on long speeches and in briefer exchanges of dialogue. We may derive aesthetic pleasure from these and many other exhibitions of stagecraft. And the enjoyment we derive, coupled with our assessment of what we understand as the playwrights central values or controlling idea, constitute the basis for our evaluation. So the evaluation of any play is tied to our interpretation of it. But our interpretation is affected by our perception of the moral and cultural values it exhibits. In identifying the plays central concerns and in deciding which values are endorsed by the playwright, we shift back and forth between interpretation and evaluation. We do not first interpret the play and then evaluate it. We perform the two acts together. We evaluate and interpret a play, moreover, in conjunction with a subjective and immediate response to our experience of it. We can say, then, that each aspect of reading (experience, interpretation, and evaluation) affects the other, and the three aspects of reading drama taken together define or reading of any play. In the planning of a production there are several important steps. 1. Selection of the play 2. Casting of characters 3. The assignment and responsibilities 4. The preparation of the prompt book 5. Schedule of rehearsals. The play selected should be one in which everyone will enjoy working. A play having not more than five or six characters is usually most satisfactory, since larger groups find it difficult to schedule rehearsals; moreover, a small stage is inadequate for the movement of many people. The characterizations should be stimulating to all members of the cast and, if possible, should offer parts which are quite different from those played previously.
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As soon as you have decided upon your play you will need to order additional copies from the publisher. While awaiting the arrival of these you will have an opportunity to plan all the details of the production. All production duties should be assigned to and agreed upon by a director, stage manager, prop manager, costume manager, sound and music manager, make-up manager, and business or publicity manager

Prompt book- is one of the important techniques to be learned from the project. It is important because the production of a play is not a haphazard affair, but rather the result of organized planning, effective leadership, and coordinated responsibilities, without which there is chaos. The prompt book for a major production is compiled and kept by the director. It is a working handbook of all of the details connected with the play. Director A. Supervise the preparation of the prompt book, which will contain 1. Cast of characters and staging responsibilities. 2. Interpretation of the playtheme, mood, major conflict, climax 3. Style of production 4. Ground plan 5. Breakdown of the play 6. Rehearsal schedule 7. Prop plot 8. Costume plot 9. Make-up plots 10. Cue sheets for curtain , sound music, lights 11. Complete script with movement and business
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12. Publicity management 13. Record of other details 14. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of entire cast B. Supervise rehearsals
1. Conduct reading rehearsal, in which the play and character

relationships are discussed and agreed upon. 2. Study the principles of movement and design; be responsible for unity, tempo and projection. II. Stage Manager A. Draw the ground plan and make set sketch or model set if needed. B. Set up the stage for rehearsals and production. C. Supervise all backstage activity during rehearsals and production. D. Hold the prompt book during the rehearsals. E. Be familiar with the movement and business of each character so that you can take an actors play during the rehearsal. F. Make the cue sheet for curtain.

III. Prop Manager A. Prepare for the set the prop plot, which lists all necessary props on stage and in the wings when necessary props on stage and in the wings when the curtain rises. B. Prepare the personal prop chat, which lists by character all props carried or handles by the actors. C. Supervise all the collection of necessary props and safe return of all borrowed items.
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D. Supervise props used during rehearsals and productions.

IV. Costume Manager A. Prepare the costume plot, do any necessary research on period costumes, and draw costumes sketches for each character. B. Coordinate the costume ensembles as to color and style. C. Supervise the collection of costume articles, the making and pressing of costumes, and the safe return of all borrowed items. D. Supervise the costume wardrobes during the dress rehearsals and production. Establish and maintain clean, orderly dressing rooms

V. Sound and Music Manager A. Supervise the collection of sound-effect equipment. B. Supervise the selection and collection of music effects: 1. Music to establish mood. 2. Music required in the script. C. Make the cue sheets for sound and music effects. D. Operate the sound and music effects during the rehearsals and production. E. Be responsible for the safe return of all borrowed items.

VI. Make-up Manager A. Design the make-up charts for each actor, specifying the exact materials used. B. Acquire the necessary make-up materials. C. Supervise the application of make-up.
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D. Be responsible for the cleanliness of the make-up room and for returning make-up supplies. VII. Publicity Manager A. Organize the development of publicity as to kind, amount, and tme. B. Make the posters and programs. C. See that royalty is paid, if this is required. D. Make necessary preparations if other cases or guests are to be invited. E. Provide ushers, a host for invited guests, and an announcer for the production.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Barnes,G and Sutcliffe, M.J.(1954) On Stage, Everyone. New York: MacMillan Company DiYanni, R. (1994) Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. Kalaidjian, W.et.all ( 2004) Understanding Literature: An understanding to reading and Writing. Houghton Mifflin Company Kolin, P. ( 1998). Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance. CT: Greenwood Pulishing Group Aristotles Six Elements of Drama (n.d.) Retrieved last August 8,2010 from http://www.kyshakes.org/Resources/Aristotle.html Contemporary One Act Plays (n.d) Retrieved August 8,2010 from http://books.google.com.ph/book
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One Act Play (n.d) Retrieved last August 8,2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-act_play Whats in a One Act Play (n.d.) Retrieved last August 8,2010 from http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/playwriting/72788/1#ixzz0ufadW0I2

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