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Previously, we discussed the definition, types, importance and characteristics of drama. So in this very lesson, we will be looking at the elements of drama .
Elements of Drama
Drama as part of literature consists of various elements which are stated and discussed below:
i. Dialogue: Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people. Its chief historical origins as narrative, philosophical or didactic device are to be found in classical Greek and India literature, in particular in the ancient art of rhetoric. While the dialogue was less important in the nineteenth century than it had been in the eighteenth, it was not extinct. The British author W.H. Mallock employed it successfully in his work “The New Republic,” which was explicitly based on Plato’s”Republic” and on the writings of Thomas Love Peacock. But the notion of dialogue reemerged in the cultural mainstream in the work of cultural critics such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Paulo Freire, theologians such as Martin Buber, as an existential palliative to counter atomization and social alienation in mass industrial society.
ii. Action: The process or state of acting or of being active; something done or performed; act; deed. An act that one consciously wills and that maybe characterized by physical or mental activity: a crisis that demands action instead of debate; hoping for constructive action by the landlord. Actions, habitual or usual acts; conduct.
iii. Comic Relief: Comic relief usually means a releasing of emotional or other tension resulting from a comic episode interposed in the midst of serious or tragic elements in a drama. Comic relief often takes the form of a bumbling, wisecracking sidekick of the hero or villian in a work of fiction. A sidekick used for comic relief will usually comment on the absurdity of the hero’s situation and make comments that would be inappropriate for a character who is to be taken seriously. Other characters may use comic relief as a means to irritate others or keep themselves confident.
iv. Soliloquy: A soliloquy is a device often used in drama when a character speaks to himself or herself, relating thoughts and feelings, thereby also sharing them with the audience. Other characters, however, are not aware of what is being said. A soliloquy is distinct from a monologue or an aside: a monologue is a speech where one character addresses other characters; an aside is a (usually short) comment by one character towards the audience.
v. Aside: An aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience. By convention the audience is to realize that the character’s speech is unheard by the other characters on stage. It may be addressed to the audience expressly (in character or out) or represent an unspoken thought. An aside is usually a brief comment, rather than a speech; such as a monologue or soliloquy. Unlike a public announcement, it occurs within the context of the play. An aside is, by convention, a true statement of a character’s thought; a character may be mistaken in an aside, but may not be dishonest.
vi. Suspense: Suspense is a feeling of pleasurable fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from an unpredictable, mysterious and rousing source of entertainment. The term most often refers to an audience’s perceptions in a dramatic work. Suspense is not exclusive to fiction. It may operate whenever there is a perceived suspended drama or a chain of cause is left in doubt, with tension being a primary emotion felt as part of the situation. In the kind of suspense described by film director Alfred Hitchcock, an audience experiences suspense when they expect something bad to happen and have (or believe they have) a superior perspective on events in the drama’s hierarchy of knowledge, yet they are powerless to intervene to prevent it from happening. Films having a lot of suspense in the thriller genre.
vii. Prologue: A prologue from the Greek word pro (before) and logos, word is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Greek prologos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance, more like the meaning of preface. The Importance, therefore, of the prologue in Greek drama was very great; it sometimes almost took the place of a romance, to which, or to an episode in which, the play itself succeeded.
It is believed that the prologue in this form was practically the invention of Euripides, and with him, as has been said, it takes the place of an explanatory first act. This may help to modify the objection which criticism has often brought against the Greek prologue, as an impertinence, a useless growth prefixed to the play, and standing as a barrier between us and our enjoyment of it. The point precisely is that, to an Athenian audience, it was useful and pertinent, as supplying just what they needed to make the succeeding scenes intelligible. But it is difficult to accept the view that Euripides invented the plan of producing a god out of a machine to justify the action of deity upon man, because it is plain that he himself disliked this interference of the supernatural and did not believe in it. He seems, in such a typical prologue as that to the Hippolytus, to be accepting a conventional formula, and employing it, almost perversely, as a medium for his ironic rationalism.
viii. Epilogue: An epilogue or epilog is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature, usually used to bring closure to the work. It is presented from the perspective of within the story; when the author steps in and speaks indirectly to the reader, that is more properly considered an afterword. The opposite is a prologue – a piece of writing at the beginning of a work of literature or drama, usually used to open the story and capture interest.
ix. Conflict: Conflict refers to some form of fiction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Conflict can arise between members of the same group, known as intragroup conflict, or it can occur between members of two or more groups, and involve violence, interpersonal discord, and psychological tension, known as intergroup conflict. Conflict in groups after follows a specific course. Routine group interaction is first disrupted by an initial conflict, often caused by differences of opinion, disagreements between members, or scarcity of resources. At this point, the group is no longer united, and may split into coalitions. This period of conflict escalation in some cases gives way to a conflict resolution stage, after which the group can eventually return to routine group interaction once again.
x. Protagonist: A protagonist from Ancient Greek (protagonistes), meaning “one who plays the first part, chief actor” is the main character, the central or primary personal figure of a literary, theatrical, cinematic or musical narrative, who enters conflict because of the antagonist. The audience is intended to mostly identify with the protagonist. In the theatre of Ancient Greek, three actors played every main dramatic role in a tragedy; the protagonist played the leading role whereas the deuteragonist and the tritagonist played the others.
The terms protagonist and main character are variously explained and depending on the source, may denote different concepts. In fiction, the story of the protagonist can be told from the perspective of a different character ( who may also but not necessarily, be the narrator). An example would be a narrator who relates the fate of several protagonists – perhaps as prominent figures recalled in a biographical perspective.
xi. Antagonist: An antagonist is known as “opponent”, competitor, enemy, rival,” “to contend for a prize,” is a character, group of characters, or institution that represents the opposition against which the protagonist or protagonists must contend. In other words, an antagonist is a person or a group of people who opposes the main character(s).
In the classic style of stories wherein the action consists of a hero fighting a villian enemy, the two can be regarded as protagonist and antagonist, respectively. Of course, some narratives cast the villian the protagonist role, with the opposing hero as the antagonist. The antagonist may also represent a major threat or obstacle to the main character by their very existence, without necessarily deliberately targeting him or her.
Examples in both film and theatre include Sauron, the main antagonist in The Lord of the Rings, who constantly battles the series’ protagonists, and Tybalt, an antagonist in Romeo and Juliet, who sleeps Mercuito and whose later death results in the exiling of one of the play’s protagonists, Romeo. A convention of the antagonist in a story is that their moral choices are less savoury than those of the protagonist. This is often a convention and the reversal of this can be seen in the character Macduff from Macbeth, who is arguably morally correct in his desire to fight the tyrant Macbeth.
xii. Tragic Character: Aristotle shared his view of what makes a tragic hero in his poetics. Aristotle suggests that a hero of a tragedy must evoke in the audience a sense of pity or fear, saying, the change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity.” He establishes the concept that the emotion of pity stems not from a person becoming better but when a person receives undeserved misfortune and fear comes when the misfortune befalls a man like us. This is why Aristotle points out the simple fact that, “The change of fortune should not be from bad to good, but, reversely, from good to bad.” According to Aristotle a tragic hero ought to be a man whose misfortune comes to him, not through vice or depravity but some error of judgement. For example King Oedipus kills his father from impulse and married his mother out of ignorance.
Aristotle contests that the tragic hero has to be a man “who is not eminently good and just, whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty.” He is not making the hero entirely good in which he can do no wrong but rather has the hero committing an injury or a great wrong leading to his misfortune. Aristotle is not contradicting himself saying that the hero has to be virtuous. He still has to be – to some degree – good. Aristotle adds another qualification to that of being virtuous but not entirely good when he says, “He must be one who is highly renewed and prosperous.” He goes on to give examples such as Oedipus and Thyestes.
xiii. Comic Character: A comic hero is a fictional trait in movies or narrative work which displays at least a negligible level of personal charm or worth of personality which takes to win the audience’s basic approval and support. Examples of comic heroes include Superman, Spiderman and Batman.
xiv. Prompter: The prompter in an opera house gives the singers and the opening words of each phrase a few seconds early. Prompts are mouthed silently or hurled lyrically in a half-voice, audible (hopefully) only on stage. ( This is in contrast to the prompt in a spoken-drama theater who aids actors who have forgotten their words or lines.)
xv. Stage: In theatre or performance arts, the stage (sometimes referred to as the deck in stagecraft) is a designated space for the performance of productions. The stage serves as a space for actors or performers and a focal point ( the screen in cinema theaters) for the members of the audience. As an architectural feature, the stage may consist of a platform (often raised) or series of platforms. In some cases, these may be temporary or adjustable but in theaters and other buildings devoted to such productions, the stage is often a permanent feature.
There are several types of stages that vary as to the use and the relation of the audience to them. The most common form found in the West is the proscenium stage. In this type, the audience is located on one side of the stage with the remaining sides hidden and used by the performers and technicians. Thrust stages may be similar to proscenium stages but with a platform or performance area that extends into the audience space so that the audience is located on three sides. In theatre in the round, the audience is located on all four sides of the stage. The fourth types of stage incorporates created and found stages which maybe constructed specifically for a performance or may involve a space that is adapted as a stage.
xvi. Props: A property, commonly shortened to prop (plural: props), is an object used on stage or screen by actors during performance or screen production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes and electrical equipment. Consumable food items appearing in the production are also considered property.
xvii. Denouncement: The denouncement refers to the resolution of the complications of a plot in a work of fiction, generally done in a final chapter or section (often in the epilogue). The denouncement generally follows the climax, except in mystery novels, in which the denouncement and the climax may occur at the same time.
xviii. Climax: In literature the word climax is used to describe the most intense and exciting part of a story. In most instances the term climax in literature also brings in mind the decisive moment in a novel or story.
xix. Anti-climax: It is the sudden transition in discourse from a significant idea to a trivial or ludicrous idea; also: an instance of this transition: an event, period or outcome that is strikingly less important or dramatic than expected.
xx. Dramatic Irony: Dramatic irony, in literature, a plot device in which the audience’s or reader’s knowledge of events or individuals surpasses that of the characters. The words and actions of the characters therefore take on a different meaning for the audience or reader than they have for the play’s characters. This may happen when, for example, a character reacts in an inappropriate or foolish way or when a character lacks self-awareness and thus acts under false assumptions.
xxi. Hubris: Hubris means extreme pride or self-confidence. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. The adjectival form of the noun hubris is “hubristic”.
xxii. Cast: A cast is a mechanism that converts value from one data type to another data type. Casts allow you to make comparisons between values of different data types or substitute a value of one data type for a value of another data type. Dynamic server supports casts in the following types of expressions.
xxiii. The Producer: Film producers prepare and then supervise the making of a film before presenting the product to a financing entity or a film distributor. They might be employed by a production company or be independent, yet either way they help the creative people as well as the accounting personnel. The average Hollywood film made in 2013 had just over 10 producers credit (3.2 producers, 4.4 executive producers, 1.2 co-producers, 0.8 associate producers and 0.5 other types of producer).
xxiv. The Director: A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. Generally, a film director controls a film’s artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of film making.
xxv. Tragic Flaw: A tragic Flaw is a literary term that refers to a personality traits of a main character that leads to his or her downfall. In other words, a character with a tragic Flaw is in need of some kind of attitude adjustment. The term usually comes up when you are studying a tragedy – that is, a piece of literature in which the main character ends up dead or otherwise defeated. In this kind of story, the main character is sometimes also called the tragic hero.
xxvi. Complication: A plot complication is something that puts a halt in the progression of the plot. Some examples are natural disasters, financial problems or a death.
xxvii. Resolution: The resolution usually comes at the end of the story. The resolution will usually occur after the climax of the story. The resolution is where the overall conflict of the story is being resolved.
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