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Drama Literary Terms

By Amanimani Mar 21, 2011 10807 Words
Glossary of Literary terms – Drama

Act-: A lengthy segment of a play, comprising several scenes. A major division in a play. Each act may have one or more scenes. Greek plays were performed as continuous wholes, with interpolated comment from the Chorus. Horace appears to have been the first to insist on a five-act structure. At some stage during the Renaissance the use of five acts become standard practice among French dramatists.     Plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries have natural breaks which can be taken as act divisions. Shakespeare's plays are usually divided into five acts, and these acts are themselves divided into individual numbered scenes. Much of this division is the work of individual editors, rather than being explicit in the original editions of the plays. The playwright Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718) was the first editor to divide Shakespeare’s plays systematically into acts and scenes, and to indicate locations for each scene; his six-volume edition of Shakespeare's works was published in 1709. Various attempts have been made to work out a consistent pattern for the five act play, such as by saying that the first act sets the scene and provides background information, the second and third acts move the action forward at ever-increasing speed, the fourth act provides the turning point in the action, and the fifth act concludes the story with a fierce climax and provides the dénouement.     In shaping their plays Elizabethan dramatists were influenced by Roman models (e.g. Seneca). The act divisions were marked as such by later editors. Ben Jonson was largely responsible for introducing the five-act structure in England. From the second half of the 17th century the vast majority of plays were in five acts. the introduction of the proscenium (arch shaped stage) and the curtain (unknown in the Elizabethan theatre) during the Restoration period had some influence on structure. In the Restoration period the curtain rose at the end of the prologue (which was spoken on the forestage) and stayed out of sight until the end of the play. By c. 1750 the curtain was dropped regularly, marking the end of an act. action (1) the main story (in cinematic jargon 'story-line') of a play, novel, short story, narrative poem, etc.: (2) the main series of events that together constitute the plot or what a character does to overcome an obstacle to achieving his objective; actor A person who performs a role in a play or film.

Aesthetic distance : degree of emotional detachment from or non-identification with the characters or circumstances of a work of art, permitting the formation of judgments based on aesthetic rather than extra-aesthetic criteria.; the proper “aesthetic distance” gives the audience the most rewarding experience of a performance.

Apron The portion of the stage that protrudes closer to the audience than the proscenium arch. Apron is the part of the stage visible once curtains are drawn.

Arbor A cage that stage weights are placed into as part of the counterweight system for lowering scenery from the fly loft to the stage.

Arena theatre A theatre with seats completely surrounding a stage that is circular, oval, square, or rectangular; sometimes referred to as theatre-in- the-round. anachronism (GK. 'back-timing): A historically inaccurate episode or event in a film or play. In literature anachronisms may be used deliberately to distance events and to underline a universal verisimilitude and timelessness - to prevent something being 'dated'. Shakespeare adopted this device several times. Two classic examples are the references to the clock in Julius Caesar and to billiards in Antony and Cleopatra - (when a clock chimes in Julius Caesar, clocks had not been invented in Roman times, in which the play is supposedly set). Anagnorisis: (GK 'recognition') A term used by Aristotle in Poetics to describe the moment of recognition (of truth) when ignorance gives way to knowledge. According to Aristotle, the ideal moment of anagnorisis coincides with peripeteia, or reversal of fortune Antagonist: In drama or fiction the antagonist opposes the hero or protagonist. In Othello Iago is antagonist to the Moor. Anti-climax: A drop, often sudden and unexpected, from a dignified or important idea or situation to a trivial one or a descent from something sublime to something ridiculous. In fiction and drama, this refers to action which is disappointing in contrast to the previous moment of intense interest or anything which follows the climax. The effect may be comic and is often intended to be. According to Samuel Johnson, who first recorded the word, it is “A sentence in which the last part expresses something lower than the first.” Anti-masque: An innovation by Ben Jonson in 1609. It took the form of either a buffoonish and grotesque episode before the main masque or an interlude, similarly farcical, during it. Aristotelian drama: Aristotle was a Greek philosopher of the fourth century BC who endeavoured to deduce what were the essential ingredients for theatrical success. Later defined as the Unities, his studies incorporated plot, theme, narrative technique, characterisation and the handling of time and place. Three rules for dramatic structure had been derived from the writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC). They were: Unity of Action, which stated that a play should consists of a single united action, with no sub-plots; Unity of Time, which stated that the action of a play should not last more than about twenty-four hours; and Unity of Place, which stated that the action should all happen in the same place. Plays written up to, and including, the Elizabethan era were, more often than not, constructed on an Aristotelian model. An Aristotelian pattern demanded consistency with the three Unities: Action. Time and Place. From Action there had to be an absence of confusing subplots, Time must portray events taking place within a constricted period, probably no more than a day, and the setting throughout needed to be restricted to one Place. These Unities were considered vital ingredients for a dramatist in his endeavour to maintain audience credibility.. The French dramatists of the sixteenth century adhered closely to these rules, considering that to break them would confuse the audience and make it more difficult for them to suspend their disbelief. Aristotle: a Greek philosopher (384-322 BC), whose Poetics (observations about Tragedy collected by his followers) in an early and influential example of empirical criticism. By the examination of examples Aristotle attempts to analyze those features that make some tragedies more successful than others. He focuses on the nature of the plot and its connections with a moral pattern, the typifying features of the tragic hero, and the play's intensity of focus in time and place (later called the Unities). Aside: device in common use in drama whereby a character addresses the audience whilst other characters are still on stage. (It contrasts with soliloquy when a character on stage alone addresses the audience.) It is normally the playwright's intention that what is said is said sincerely. An aside is a common dramatic convention in which a character speaks in such a way that some of the characters on stage do not hear what is said, while others do. It may also be a direct address to the audience, revealing the character's views, thoughts, motives and intentions. Auditorium The portion of a theatre where the audience sits or stands; derived from “the hearing place” in ancient Roman theatres. Augustan age: During the reign of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) many distinguished writers flourished, notably Virgil, Horace, Ovid and Tibullus. Originally a golden age of Roman literature a hundred years before and after the time of the birth of Christ. The term is now usually applied to a period of English writing in the final decades of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, notably of Goldsmith, Addison, Steele, Pope and Swift. The style common to both periods is one of taste, refinement and patriotism. So the phrase suggests a period of urbane and classical elegance in writing, a time of harmony, decorum and proportion. Goldsmith contributed an essay to The Bee on 'the Augustan Age in England', but he confined it to the reign og Queen Anne (1702-14). In French literature the term is applied to the age of Corneille, Racine and Molière. B

Backdrops Large, two-dimensional painted scenery hung from battens in the flies.

Backstage The stage house space of a theatre that the audience does not see, and any support spaces in which scenery and costumes are constructed and stored.

Balcony Seating on a level above the main-floor orchestra seats. Bard: (Welsh, bardd; Irish, bard) Among the ancient Celts a bard was a sort of official poet whose task it was to celebrate national events - particularly heroic actions and victories. The bardic poets of Gaul and Britain were a distinct social class with special privileges. The 'caste' continued to exist in Ireland and Scotland, but nowadays are more or less confined to Wales, where the poetry contests and festivals, known as the Eisteddfodau, were revived in 1822 (after a lapse since Elizabethan times). In modern Welsh a bardd is a poet who has taken part in an Eisteddfod. In more common parlance the term may be half seriously applied to a distinguished poet - especially Shakespeare. Bathos: (GK 'depth') It is a sudden descent from the serious to the ludicrous. Bathos is usually unintentional, whereas anti-climax is used deliberately by an author, often for comic effect. Bathos is achieved when a writer, striving at the sublime, overreaches himself and topples into the absurd. In mock critical treatise called Peri Bathous, or, Of the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1728), Pope assures the reader that he will 'lead them as it were by the hand... the gentle downhill way to Bathos; the bottom, the end, the central point, the non plus ultra, of true Modern Poesy!' Bawdy: A term used to describe coarse, low, sexual humour or dialogue. Bawdy is usually the preserve of lower-class characters, but this can serve to make it even more startling when it comes from noble characters. Hamlet is obsessed with corruption, sexuality, and the 'rank sweat' of copulation. He is frequently bawdy, as when he says to Ophelia 'That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs' and makes other suggestive remarks to her. Sexual jealousy and fascination with sexuality infests almost every line Iago speaks about Desdemona in Othello, and he announces the marriage of Desdemona to Othello by telling her father that a black ram is 'tupping' (having intercourse with) his white ewe. Bawdy, however, comes in more frequently where one might expect to find it, in the low-life characters. Bosola's speech in The Duchess of Malfi is bawdy when he speaks with the Old Lady. Bear baiting: Bear baiting in the 17th century, alternatively BULLBAITING, the setting of dogs on a bear or a bull chained to a stake by the neck or leg. Popular from the 12th to the 19th century, when they were banned as inhumane, these spectacles were usually staged at theatre-like arenas known as bear gardens.

In England many large groups of bears were kept expressly for the purpose. Contemporary records reveal, for example, that 13 bears were provided for an entertainment attended by Queen Elizabeth I in 1575.When a bull was baited, its nose was often blown full of pepper to further arouse it. Specially trained dogs were loosed singly, each attempting to seize the tethered animal's nose. Often, a hole in the ground was provided for the bull to protect its snout. A successful dog was said to have pinned the bull.Variations on these activities included whipping a blinded bear and baiting a pony with an ape tied to its back. Dogfighting and cockfighting were often provided as companion diversions.

box set Three-sided scenery used in a proscenium arch theatre to create the illusion of a real room with the “fourth wall” removed. Burlesque: The term derives from the Italian burlesco, from burla 'ridicule' or 'joke'. It is a derisive imitation or exaggerated 'sending up' of a literary or musical work, usually stronger and broader in tone and style than parody. For the most part burlesque is associated with some form of stage entertainment. Aristophanes used it occasionally in his plays. The satyr plays were a form of burlesque. Clowning interludes in Elizabethan plays were also a type. It sets out to ridicule a style or type of writing, by exaggerating the features of the original and making them appear ridiculous. Parody ridicules a specific book or work by imitating it badly; burlesque ridicules a whole style or approach that might be found in several works. C

Caricature: a character whose personality is described in terms of a very small number of features, often grossly exaggerated. Catharsis The purging of the feelings of pity and fear that, according to Aristotle, occur in the audience of tragic drama. The audience experiences catharsis at the end of the play, following the catastrophe. (GK. 'purgation) Aristotle uses the word in his definition of tragedy in Chaper VI of Poetics, and there has been much debate (still inconclusive) on exactly what he meant. The key sentence is: 'Tragedy through pity and fear effects a purgation of such emotions'. So, in a sense, the tragedy, having aroused powerful feelings in the spectator, has also a therapeutic effect; after the storm and climax there comes a sense of release from tension, of calm. It is the effect of tragedy upon the audience: a purging of the emotions of pity and fear by their presentation on stage. The word describes the purging of emotions (usually defined as pity or fear) that takes place at the end of tragedy.

Catastrophe The action at the end of a tragedy that initiates the denouement or falling action of a play. One example is the dueling scene in Act V of Hamlet in which Hamlet dies, along with Laertes, King Claudius, and Queen Gertrude. It is the possible second high point in buiding of tension after the climax.

Character (1) The second in Aristotle’s ranking of the six elements of theatre, which he described as “the agent for the action”; (2) a fictional being in a playwright’s script. An imaginary person that inhabits a literary work. Literary characters may be major or minor, static (unchanging) or dynamic (capable of change). In Shakespeare's Othello, Desdemona is a major character, but one who is static, like the minor character Bianca. Othello is a major character who is dynamic, exhibiting an ability to change.

Characterization The means by which writers present and reveal character. Although techniques of characterization are complex, writers typically reveal characters through their speech, dress, manner, and actions. Readers come to understand the character Miss Emily in Faulkner's story "A Rose for Emily" through what she says, how she lives, and what she does. Chorus (1) The characters in ancient Greek drama who spoke, sang, and danced portions of the drama not spoken by the main characters; (2) A group of characters in Greek tragedy (and in later forms of drama), who comment on the action of a play without participation in it. Their leader is the choragos. Sophocles' Antigone and Oedipus the King both contain an explicit chorus with a choragos. Chronicle plays: chronicle plays were primitive plays dealing with English history, popular in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and a significant influence on Elizabethan dramatists.; also called chronicle history, or history play, drama with a theme from history consisting usually of loosely connected episodes chronologically arranged. Plays of this type lay emphasis on the public welfare by pointing to the past as a lesson for the present. The genre is characterized by its assumption of a national consciousness in its audience. It has flourished in times of intensely nationalistic feeling, notably in England from the 1580s until the 1630s, by which time it was "out of fashion," according to the prologue of John Ford's play Perkin Warbeck. Early examples of the chronicle play include The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, The Life and Death of Jacke Straw, The Troublesome Raigne of John King of England, and The True Tragedie of Richard III. The genre came to maturity with the work of Christopher Marlowe (Edward II) and William Shakespeare (Henry VI, parts 2 and 3).

Classicism A theatrical style in which the artist strives to imitate an idealized reality (refer definition later) based on the power of reason; Classicism commonly is associated with the ancient Greek notion of “the golden mean,” in which excess is considered improper and balance and proportion are considered desirable.

Climax The turning point of the action in the plot of a play or story. The climax represents the point of greatest tension in the work. The climax of John Updike's "A & P," for example, occurs when Sammy quits his job as a cashier.

Complication An intensification of the conflict in a story or play. Complication builds up, accumulates, and develops the primary or central conflict in a literary work.

Comedy The genre of play that makes you laugh, has plots that end happily, and reaffirms the values you hold to be important. A type of drama in which the characters experience reversals of fortune, usually for the better. In comedy, things work out happily in the end. Comic drama may be either romantic--characterized by a tone of tolerance and geniality--or satiric. Satiric works offer a darker vision of human nature, one that ridicules human folly. Comic relief The use of a comic scene to interrupt a succession of intensely tragic dramatic moments. The comedy of scenes offering comic relief typically parallels the tragic action that the scenes interrupt. Comic relief is lacking in Greek tragedy, but occurs regularly in Shakespeare's tragedies. One example is the opening scene of Act V of Hamlet, in which a gravedigger banters with Hamlet. Comic episodes or interludes, usually in tragedy, aimed to relieve the tension and heighten the tragic element by contrast. They are or should be an essential and integral part of the whole work. If not actually extended into an episode or interlude, the relief may take the form of a few remarks or observations (or some form of action) which help to lower the emotional temperature. Comedy of manners A comic play that derives its humor from the language and behavior of the characters; see also “high comedy.”

Complex plot A plot that interweaves more than one story, that includes “subplots.”

Contextual structure: The arrangement and sequence of scenes in a play that is determined by their relationship to a central theme instead of by a chronological or cause-and-effect logic.

Continuous linear plot A plot with a linear structure that unfolds without any gaps in the chronology of events. Opposite of episodic linear plot

Conflict: The tension in a situation between characters, or the actual opposition of characters (usually in drama and fiction but also in narrative poetry) OR- A struggle between opposing forces in a story or play, usually resolved by the end of the work. The conflict may occur within a character as well as between characters. Convention A rule or procedure in the theatre that is understood by actors and audience alike, in the same way that the rules of a sport are understood; the “convention of the fourth wall” is a good example. The use of a chorus in Greek tragedy, the inclusion of an explicit moral in a fable, or the use of a particular rhyme scheme in a villanelle are all conventions. Literary conventions are defining features of particular literary genres, such as novel, short story, ballad, sonnet, and play. Corrales Open-air theatres in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spain that were similar to the public theatres used in Shakespeare’s England.

Crisis The moment in the unfolding of the plot when a change happens that leads inevitably to the resolution of the dramatic question; also called the “turning point.”

Critic Someone who analyzes, describes, and offers an evaluation of a play or performance.

Curtain call A post-performance ritual in which the actors bow and the audience applauds.


Determinism A philosophy that holds that humans are shaped by genetic and environmental forces. Denouement The resolution of the plot of a literary work.
Deus ex machina A Latin phrase meaning “god from the machine,” used to describe the resolution of the plot of a play by external means, OR A god who resolves the entanglements of a play by supernatural intervention. The phrase refers to the use of artificial means to resolve the plot of a play. Dialogue The speeches the characters say; the playwright’s primary material. Dianoia The Greek word for “the process of thought,” used by scholars to name the third-ranked of Aristotle’s six elements of theatre. Diction The choice and arrangement of words by the playwright that give a play its distinctive tone; not to be confused with “articulation,” the preciseness of an actor’s speech.

Domestic comedy: A comic play with a domestic setting and middle-class characters.

Drawing room comedy

Drama: A category of play that is serious but not tragic.
Dramatis personae: Latin for the characters or persons in a play. Dramatic question The question posed early in a play’s plot that keeps the audience interested until it is answered at the plot’s resolution.

Dress circle A name for the first balcony of seating; commonly used in England.

Drop A large painted cloth hung from a batten as part of the scenery. Dumb show: a mimed dramatic performance whose purpose was to prepare the audience for the main action of the play to follow E
End stage theatre A theatre with the stage at one end of a large space but without a proscenium arch formally separating the stage from the auditorium; commonly built in rooms not originally intended for performance. Environmental theatre A kind of theatrical performance popularized by Richard Schechner, two traits of which are multiple actions happening simultaneously and continual readjustment of the performers’ and the audience’s spaces. Episodic linear plot A plot with a linear structure made up of a sequence of scenes that have time lapses between them. Opposite of a continuous linear plot Eponymous Hero: A daunting word for a simple concept: an eponymous hero is a hero whose name is the title of the play, as in Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. Exposition Background information revealed in the dialogue to help the audience understand the unfolding plot. Expressionism Theatrically it was a reaction against Realism especially in Germany early in the 20th century (1905) and aimed to show inner psychological realities. Expressionism can be seen as a reaction against a comfortable, unthinking, uncaring and increasingly mechanized society. Central characters, particularly in the work of Austrian novelist Franz Kafka, are trapped inside a distorted vision of the world that either reflects their own psychological conflicts or those of the society in which the original readers lived. The artist strives to imitate subjective reality as it is experienced in nightmares and in which the visual world is distorted and abstracted to demonstrate how the central character feels about it; example LWFC – Tita’s cooking expresses her views through magical instances. As a literary genre, Expressionism presents the story through the central character’s vision and voice. Expressionism determines form and therefore imagery, syntax and so on. Any formal rules and elements of writing can be bent or disjointed to suit the purpose.

Expressionist dramatists tended to represent anonymous human types instead of individualized characters, to replace plot by episodic renderings of intense and rapidly oscillating emotional states, often to fragment the dialogue into exclamatory and seemingly incoherent sentences or phrases and to employ masks and abstract or lopsided and sprawling stage sets.

Falling action: The portion of the plot that follows the crisis.

Farce A play that makes you laugh a lot and leaves you feeling liberated by the wildly anarchic and improbable things that happen.

Flashback A scene in a film or play that takes place in an earlier virtual time than its placement in the structure of the plot.

Flat A standard piece of theatrical scenery with a wood frame, usually covered in canvas.

Fly loft The space in the stage house above the proscenium arch where scenery is flown.

Found space theatre The name for a performance space that was not intended for that use; for example, the steps of a government building, the courtyard in a mall, a railroad station.

Front of house The portion of the theatre used by the audience.

Gallery A name for the third or highest balcony in some theatres.

Genre Categorization of dramas on the basis of their emotional impact on an audience; there are also literary characteristics of each genre; the six most common genres are tragedy, comedy, farce, melodrama, drama, and tragicomedy. Gesture The physical movement of a character during a play. Gesture is used to reveal character, and may include facial expressions as well as movements of other parts of an actor's body. Sometimes a playwright will be very explicit about both bodily and facial gestures, providing detailed instructions in the play's stage directions. Ibsen’s Doll’s House includes such stage directions.

Green room The actors’ backstage waiting room, perhaps named after the green waiting room in London’s Drury Lane Theatre. Greek tragedy: This form of tragedy had a definite structure which was more or less prescribed. There were four main parts to a play: (a) The Prologos or Prologue: an introductory scene of monologue or dialogue. This exposition established the subject and theme of the play and portrayed one or more characters. (b) Parados: the entrance of the Chorus; the choral song provides further exposition and foreshadows subsequent events. (c) Epeisodia: episodes (perhaps four or five) which constitute the main action of the play. One or more characters take part in these with the chorus. Each eposode is separated by a choral ode or stasimon. In some plays, a part of the episode may involve a kommos - a kind of lamentation in which both characters and Chorus take part. (d) Exodus: the conclusion, which follows the last ode sung and danced by the Chorus. The Exodos includes two features: the messenger's speech and the deus ex machina; but the deus ex machina was used only by Euripides. Grid A network of steel beams high above the stage floor.

Groundlings The name for the audience in Elizabethan theatres who stood to watch performances; this audience paid the smallest entrance fee and is thought to have favored broad comedy.

Guerilla theatre Theatre of a political nature performed in unexpected public places.

Hiatus : Either a gap in a sentence so that the sense is not completed, or a break between two vowels coming together where there is no intervening consonant. The indefinite article takes an 'n' - as in 'an answer'.     In The Duchess of Malfi in Act I, Scene ii, when the brothers interrupted her sentence in mid-flow and hear the Duchess say 'I'll never marry - ' (line 223)

Hamartia : (GK 'error') Primarily, an error of judgement which may arise from ignorance or some moral shortcoming. Discussing tragedy and the tragic hero in Poetics, Aristotle points out that the tragic hero ought to be a man whose misfortune comes to him, not through vice or depravity, but by some error. For example: Oedipus kills his father from impulse, and marries his mother out of ignorance. Antigone resists the law of the state from stubbornness and defiance. [See tragic flaw]

High comedy A comic play that derives its humor from the language and behavior of the characters; see also “comedy of manners.” - Which is a form of High comedy. Hubris The Greek word for excessive pride, which was considered to be a flaw in the character of an otherwise ideal person; the common flaw in the tragic heroes of ancient Greek dramas This shortcoming or defect in the Greek tragic hero leads him to ignore the warnings of the gods and to transgress their laws and commands. Eventually hubris brings about downfall and nemesis, as in the case of Creon in Sophocles's Antigone and Clytemnestra in Aeschylus's Oresteia trilogy. The pride that allows a tragic hero to ignore the warnings from the gods, and so bring about his nemesis (downfall) Idealized reality An artistic expression of the artist’s vision of truth based on either an intellectual or an emotional ideal of how the world ought to be; the reality of the theatrical styles of Classicism and Romanticism.

Imagination (actor’s): The aspect of the actor’s craft that exploits an actor’s ability to think and feel as the fictional character.

Imagistic design Scene design that explores visual metaphors and striking images rather than representing observed reality; frequently associated with the theatrical style of Postmodernism.(Project STRIP)

Inciting event The moment in the plot when the dramatic question is asked; it marks the end of the introduction and the beginning of what is often called the rising action.

Introduction A term used in play analysis to describe the first scene or scenes of a play in which characters are introduced, exposition is provided, and the status quo is established. Interlude : in theatre, early form of English dramatic entertainment, sometimes considered to be the transition between medieval morality plays and Tudor dramas. Interludes were performed at court or at "great houses" by professional minstrels or amateurs at intervals between some other entertainment, such as a banquet, or preceding or following a play, or between acts. Although most interludes were sketches of a nonreligious nature, some plays were called interludes that are today classed as morality plays. K

Kabuki A highly stylized form of Japanese theatre.

linear structure Description of the plot of a play that progresses without flashbacks to jumble the chronology; the action progresses “along a line.”

Low comedy: A comedy about characters we laugh at more because of what they do than because of what they say. M
Machiavellian: the Machiavel was a villainous stock character in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, so called after the Florentine writer Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), author of The Prince (written 1513), a book of political advice to rulers that recommended the need under certain circumstances to lie to the populace for their own good and to preserve power. Embellishment of this suggestion (which was only one small part of his analysis of political power and justice) made Machiavelli almost synonymous with the Devil in English literature. Machiavels are practised liars and cruel political opportunists, who delight in their own manipulative evil. The topic of dissembling and disguising one's true identity amount almost to an obsession in plays in the early seventeenth century. Mansion stage A platform stage used in medieval Europe that consisted of a wide rectangular stage with a number of separate houses attached to the back of it, each depicting a unique location; see “simultaneous stage.” Masque : (F. 'mask') (Poe – Masque of Red Death) A lavish form of dramatic entertainment relying heavily on song, dance, costumes, extravagant spectacle and special effects. The genre flourished in the first part of the seventeenth century, having been imported from Italy. Ben Jonson is sometimes seen as the greatest of masque writers. Comus (1634) by John Milton is a particularly famous masque;also spelled MASK, festival or entertainment in which disguised participants offer gifts to their host and then join together for a ceremonial dance. According to Ben Jonson, masques were formerly called 'disguisings'. A masque was a fairly elaborate form of courtly entertainment which was particularly popular in the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I, as it was in Italy (where the masque first acquired a distinctive form), and in France. In fact, Circe (1581), first produced in Paris, had a considerable influence on English masque.     The masque combined poetic drama, song, dance and music. The costumes were often sumptuous. The structure was usually simple. A Prologue introduced a group of actors known to the audience. They entered in disguise or perhaps in some kind of decorated vehicle. Plot and action were slight. Usually the plot consisted of mythological and allegorical elements. Sometimes there might be a sort of 'debate'. At the end there was a dance of masked figures in which the audience joined. In short, it was a kind of elegant, private pageant. Meaning The single dominant idea expressed by the plot of a play. Mime: (GK 'imitation') A form of drama in which actors tell a story by gestures, originating in Sicily and southern Italy. Sophron of Syracuse (5th c. BC) composed mime plays. So did Herodas (3rd c. BC) who later influenced Plautus, Terence and Horace. Dumb acting continued as a very popular form of entertainment throughout the Middle Ages and achieved a considerable revival in Italy in the 16th c. when it was much practised in commedia dell'arte. The influence spread through Europe and in varying degrees mime has been part of the European dramatic tradition ever since. [See Dumb show.] Mimesis: A basic theoretical principle in the creation of art. This is a Greek word for “imitation” though in the sense of re-presentation rather than copying. Plato and Aristotle spoke of mimesis as the representation of nature. According to Plato, all artistic creation is a form of imitation ; that which really exists is a creation of God; the concrete things man perceives in his existence are shadowy representations of this ideal type. Therefore the painter, the tragedian and the musicians are imitator of an imitation, twice removed from the truth. Aristotle, in Poetics, states that tragedy is an “imitation of an action’, but he uses the term comprehensively to refer to the construction of a play and what is put into it. Miracle play: also called SAINT'S PLAY, one of three principal kinds of vernacular drama of the European Middle Ages (along with the mystery play and the morality play). A miracle play presents a real or fictitious account of the life, miracles, or martyrdom of a saint. The genre evolved from liturgical offices developed during the 10th and 11th centuries to enhance calendar festivals. By the 13th century they had become vernacularized and filled with unecclesiastical elements. They had been divorced from church services and were performed at public festivals. Almost all surviving miracle plays concern either the Virgin Mary or St. Nicholas, the 4th-century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. Both Mary and Nicholas had active cults during the Middle Ages, and belief in the healing powers of saintly relics was widespread. In this climate, miracle plays flourished.

The Mary plays consistently involve her in the role of deus ex machina, coming to the aid of all who invoke her, be they worthy or wanton. She saves, for example, a priest who has sold his soul to the devil, a woman falsely accused of murdering her own child, and a pregnant abbess. Typical of these is a play called St. John the Hairy. At the outset the title character seduces and murders a princess. Upon capture, he is proclaimed a saint by an infant. He confesses his crime, whereupon God and Mary appear and aid John in reviving the princess, which done, the murderer saint is made a bishop. Monologue : A term used in a number of senses, with the basic meaning of a single person speaking alone - with or without an audience. Most prayers, much lyric verse and all laments are monologues, but, apart from these, four main kinds can be distinguished: (a) monodrama, as in Strindberg's The Stronger.

(b) soliloquy, for instance, common in Shakespeare’s plays. (c) solo addresses to an audience in a play, for instance, Iago's explanations to the audience (in Othello) of what he is going to do. (d) dramatic monologue - a poem in which there is one imaginary speaker addressing an imaginary audience, as in Browning's Andrea del Sarto, My Last Duchess, Morality plays: The successor to Miracle and Mystery plays. Morality plays were simpler, and mounted on a primitive stage. A famous example is Everyman (c. 1500), which in common with many morality plays is in the form of an allegory.     Basically, a Morality Play is an allegory in dramatic form. Its dramatic origins are to be found in the Mystery and Miracle Plays of the late Middle Ages; its allegorical origins in the sermon literature, homilies, exempla, romaces and works of spiritual edification. In essence a Morality Play was a dramatization of the battle between the forces of good and evil in the human soul; thus, an exteriorization of the inward spiritual struggle: man's need for salvation and the temptations which beset him on his pilgrimage through life to death. The main characters in Everyman (c. 1500) are God, a Messenger, Death, Everyman, Fellowship, Good Deeds, Goods, Knowledge, Beauty and Strength. Everyman is summoned by Death and he finds that no one will go with him except Good Deeds.     In other plays we find the forces of evil (the World, the Flesh and the Devil, the Seven Deadly Sins and various demons) deployed against Man, whose champions are the forces of good (God and his angels, and the four moral and the three theological virtues). Nearly all the Moralities are didactic illustrations of and commentaries on a preoccupation which dominated Christian thought throughout much of the Middle Ages: namely, the war between God and the Devil. Mechane: A large crane used to “fly” actors into the air in ancient Greek theatres. Melodrama A genre of play that provides entertainment that has the appearance of being serious but ends with the protagonist victorious; melodramas usually have highly emotional scenes alternating with comic scenes.

Multiple plots Description of a play that tells more than one story.

Music The fifth-ranked of Aristotle’s six elements of theatre; describes everything that is heard, from musical accompaniment to sound effects to the actors’ voices.

Musical Description of the mature form of musical theatre that evolved in the middle of the twentieth century and that integrates song and dance with characters and plot.

Musical comedy: Description of American musical theatre prior to the midtwentieth century.

Naturalism A theatrical style developed in the nineteenth century that is based on the philosophy of Determinism and that strives to present on stage an exact imitation of everyday life; Naturalism and Realism are closely linked, and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. Objective reality A theatrical style, expressed in Realism and Theatricalism, that imitates the way things appear on the surface..

Opera A form of musical theatre developed in Italy during the Renaissance that is entirely sung, is serious in subject, and is musically complex.

Operetta A form of musical theatre that developed in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that is Romantic in subject, has scenes of spoken dialogue, and is less musically complex than opera.

orchestra (1) The flat circle of earth at the center of an ancient Greek theatre where the chorus sang and danced; the word means “dancing place”; (2) the main-floor audience seating in a proscenium arch theatre; (3) the musicians who play during a musical theatre performance and who usually sit in front of and below the stage in a place called the “orchestra pit.” outdoor drama Theatre performed in outdoor theatres, usually in the summer. Pageant: Originally the movable stage or platform on which the medieval Mystery Plays were presented, it was built on wheels and consisted of two rooms: the lower was used as a dressing room, the upper as a stage. Later, the term was applied to plays acted on this platform. In modern usage it describes any sort of spectacular procession which presents tableaux and includes songs, dances and dramatic scenes. Pathos: (Gk. 'suffering', feeling, grief') Moments in works of art which evoke strong feelings of pity are said to have this quality. Tragic drama is full of moments of pathos.    That quality in a work of art which evokes feelings of tenderness, pity or sorrow. For example: in Hamlet, Gertrude's speech describing the death of Ophelia; in Othello, the death of Desdemona. Pageant wagon A wagon used by traveling actors in medieval Europe.

Parados: (1) The passage between the audience seating area and the skene in ancient Greek theatre that was used by the chorus for entrances and exits; (2) the descriptive name for the choral ode sung by the chorus when it entered at the beginning of an ancient Greek play.

Performance- The presentation of a play or musical before an audience. Persona/personae: (L. 'mask') Originally a mask or false face of clay or bark worn by actors. From it derives the term dramatis personae and, later, the word person. In literary and critical jargon persona has come to denote the 'person' (the 'I' of an 'alter ego') who speaks in a poem or novel or other form of literature. Person or persons who have imposed on them points of view expressed in the written work which are not necessarily those of the author. In novels, the persona might be a first person narrator; in drama each character fulfils that role when the speaking is with them. Plot : The plan, design, scheme or pattern of events in a play, poem or work of fiction; and, further, the organization of incident and character in such a way as to induce curiosity and suspense in the spectator or reader. In the space / time continuum of plot the continual question operates in four tenses: (1) Why did that happen? (2) Why is this happening?(3) What is going to happen next - and why? (4) Is anything going to happen?     In Poetics, Aristotle includes plot as one of the six elements in tragedy. For Aristotle it is the 'first principle' and 'the soul of a tragedy'. He calls plot 'the imitation of the action', as well as the arrangement of the incidents. He required a plot to be 'whole' (that is, to have a beginning, a middle and an end) and that it should have unity, namely 'imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed'.     This is the ideal, well-knit plot which Aristotle distinguished from the episodic plot in which the acts succeed one another 'without probable or necessary sequence', and which he thought was inferior. Aristotle also distinguished between simple and complex plots: in the simple the change of fortune occurs without peripeteia and without anagnorisis, whereas in the complex there is one or the other or both. Aristotle also emphasized the importance of plot as opposed to character. Poetic justice: Thomas Rymer devised this term in The Tragedies of the Last Age Considered (1678) to describe the idea that literature should always depict a world in which virtue and vice are eventually rewarded and punished appropriately. The deaths of the evil characters in The Duchess of Malfi can be viewed as examples of poetic justice.

Postmodernism A theatrical style that evolved from Surrealism in the late twentieth century and that combines an imitation of the subjective reality of Surrealism with the objective reality of Theatricalism; Postmodernism is sometimes associated with imagistic theatre.

Presentational performance A style of performance in which the actors acknowledge the presence of the audience and sometimes speak directly to them; that is, the actors “present” the characters. – Anouilh’s Antigone

Projections Images projected by lights and used as part of a play’s scenery.

Proscenium arch theatre A theatre building that has a frame like arch around the stage; the most common kind of theatre today, it was developed in the seventeenth century; “proscenium arch” is the name for the architectural separation between the stage and the auditorium, frequently decorated very ornately; the audience looks through the arch at the performance on the stage the way you look through a picture frame at a painting. proskene A platform attached to the front of the skene in ancient Greek theatres on which actors stood.

Props; Articles or objects that appear on stage during a play. The Christmas tree in A Doll's House and Laura's collection of glass animals in The Glass Menagerie are examples. -------------------------------------------------

Public spaces A term describing all the parts of a theatre building the public uses. -------------------------------------------------



Radio drama Plays performed for radio broadcast only.

Rake The tilt of a stage from the lowest level, near the audience, to a higher level upstage; introduced when audiences sat on a flat floor, but still in use today to give a performance an unrealistic and dynamic quality.

Realism A style of theatrical production and dramatic writing that imitates selected traits of the language and appearance of everyday life; a slice of life – also a literary movement – (refer to class discussions on the topic. )

Realistic exterior scenery: Scenery that creates the illusion of a real place outdoors.

Resolution: The moment in a play’s plot when the dramatic question is answered.

Reversal: A point in a play’s plot when the protagonist suffers a temporary defeat.

Reviewer: A person who writes or speaks an analysis and opinion of a play or performance; usually applied to a newspaper or television journalist who works against a deadline.

Revolving stage: A turntable used to move scenery around in a circle.

Revenge tragedy: a special form of tragedy which concentrates on the protagonist’s pursuit of vengeance against those who have done him wrong. These plays often concentrate on the moral confusion caused by the need to answer evil with evil. OR, Drama in which the dominant motive is revenge for a real or imagined injury;

Rigging The cables, ropes, pulleys, and winches used to fly scenery.

Rising action: The segment of the plot between the point of attack and the crisis in which events complicate the plot and heighten suspense.

Role The entirety of a character’s part in a play.

Romanticism A theatrical style in which the artist strives to imitate an idealized reality based on the importance of emotion; Romanticism evolved in the early nineteenth century as a reaction to Classicism, and it values excess emotion.

scene A short segment of the plot of a play.
Setting The time and place of a literary work that establish its context. The stories of Sandra Cisneros are set in the American southwest in the mid to late 20th century, those of James Joyce in Dublin, Ireland in the early 20th century. scene changes: It is sometimes difficult to realise that in Shakespeare's theatre, with no set to change, scene changes took place with great speed, and there was hardly any time lapse between scenes. The result is that Shakespeare can frequently play one scene off against another, and gain significant effects of contrast by the quick changeover between scenes. Senecan tragedy: Body of nine closet dramas (i.e., plays intended to be read rather than performed), written in blank verse by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca in the 1st century AD. Rediscovered by Italian humanists in the mid-16th century, they became the models for the revival of tragedy on the Renaissance stage. The two great, but very different, dramatic traditions of the age--French Neoclassical tragedy and Elizabethan tragedy--both drew inspiration from Seneca.

Simple plot A plot without any subplots.
Simultaneous stage A platform stage used in medieval Europe that consisted of a wide rectangular stage with a number of separate houses attached to the back of it, each depicting a unique location; see “mansion stage.”

Six elements of theatre The six elements listed by Aristotle in The Poetics as the constituents of theatre; in order: plot, character, thought, diction, music, spectacle.

Skene A freestanding building that was a part of an ancient Greek theatre; located behind the orchestra; actors made entrances from it and changed costumes in it; the word “scenery” is derived from “skene.”

Slapstick (1) A prop used in the commedia dell’arte made from two boards fastened together at one end and loose at the other so they could be slapped together to make a loud noise when an actor was hit by it; A slapstick consisted of two pieces of wood which, when applied, for instance, to somebody's buttocks, produced a cracking or slapping sound. It was used by the Harlequin in commedia dell'arte. There may be some connection between this and the tradition of the Vice cudgelling the devil; and, further back, the demons of the medieval Mystery Plays coming on with fire-crackers exploding from their tails. (2) term used to describe any broad and physical farce action. Low, knockabout comedy, involving a good deal of physical action and farcical buffoonery like the throwing of custard pies.

Slip stage A specially built stage floor that has narrow sections that slide sideways into the wings carrying actors or furniture on or off the stage. Soliloquy A speech in a play that is meant to be heard by the audience but not by other characters on the stage. If there are no other characters present, the soliloquy represents the character thinking aloud. Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech is an example. The speech to an audience by a character alone on the stage. The convention is that this 'speaking aloud' is a reliable reflection of the persona's true inner thoughts and feelings. In this way the audience is given information in a form of dramatic irony not revealed to the other characters in the play. Critics cite Bosola as a master of the craft. Perhaps craft is an apposite word. We should beware the reliability of what is said in apparent intimate confidence to the audience in soliloquy when the actor is aware of not being alone. A dramatic convention which allows a character in a play to speak diretly to the audience about his motives, feelings and decisions as if he were thinking aloud. Part of the convention is that a soliloquy provides accurate access to the character's innermost thoughts: we learn more about the character than could ever be gathered from the action of the play alone. See aside. Stage direction A playwright's descriptive or interpretive comments that provide readers (and actors) with information about the dialogue, setting, and action of a play. Modern playwrights, including Henrik Ibsen, Bernard Shaw, Arthur Miller, and TennesseWilliams tend to include substantial stage directions, while earlier playwrights typically used them more sparsely, implicitly, or not at all. See Gesture. Staging The spectacle a play presents in performance, including the position of actors on stage, the scenic background, the props and costumes, and the lighting and sound effects. Tennessee Williams describes these in his detailed stage directions for The Glass Menagerie and also in his production notes for the play.

Stage door The exterior door used by actors to enter and exit the theatre.

Stage house The portion of a theatre building that includes the stage and all backstage spaces.

Stalls English term for the main floor seats in a proscenium arch theatre.

Status quo The stable situation at the beginning of a plot, before the dramatic question is asked.

Structure Description of the arrangement of the incidents of a play’s plot.

Style (1) A categorization of artistic works by their literary or theatrical characteristics; (2) a categorization of plays by how they imitate reality; the six main theatrical styles are Realism, Theatricalism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Classicism, and Romanticism.

Subjective reality The truth of human experience as abstracted in the unconscious, the primitive, and the irrational, expressed in the theatrical styles of Surrealism and Expressionism. Subplot A subsidiary or subordinate or parallel plot in a play or story that coexists with the main plot. The story of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern forms a subplot with the overall plot of Hamlet. Sung-through musical A form of musical theatre that tells the entire story through the song lyrics and has no spoken dialogue or “book.”

Surrealism A theatrical style in which the artist strives to imitate subjective reality as it is experienced in whimsical dreams; surrealism uses associative logic instead of cause-and-effect logic to move from one incident to the next.

Text: The playwright’s script, particularly as a source of the actor’s performance.

Theatre of the absurd A genre and style of European theatre that evolved in the mid-twentieth century and expresses the meaninglessness of the human condition in laugh-producing tragicomedies;

Theatricalism A theatrical style in which the artist strives to imitate objective reality as it is traditionally presented in the theatre; theatricalism is based on the belief that we are all self-conscious creatures who “act” our lives.

Theatrical styles: Ways in which theatre productions express reality.

Theatron The seating area in ancient Greek theatres; we get our word “theatre” from this word, which means “seeing place.”

Theme An intellectual idea examined in a play.

Thought The third-ranked element of Aristotle’s elements of theatre; see “dianoia.”

Three unities Organizing traits of a play as interpreted in the Italian Renaissance from Aristotle’s The Poetics; unity of place, time, and action.

Thrust theatre A theatre without a proscenium arch in which the stage thrusts forward so the audience is seated on three sides;

Tragedy (Gk 'goat song') A serious play that makes you feel exhilarated because the hero’s experience teaches you some profound truth about your life; a tragedy guides you toward feeling a sort of calm affirmation that your worst expectations about life are true, and you feel wiser for reaching this certainty. In the first place it almost certainly denoted a form of ritual sacrifice accompanied by a choral song in honour of Dionysus, the god of the fields and the vineyards. Out of this ritual developed Greek dramatic tragedy. The derivation of this word from a Greek word meaning 'goat-song' is not very helpful. Tragedy developed from ancient rituals, worked through to Greek drama, and has been a lasting presence in literature ever since, though as with so many of the terms used in literature its precise meaning is very difficult to arrive at. In its simplest terms, a tragedy is usually a play with an unhappy ending, though both poetry and novels can contain strong elements of tragedy. The Greek scientist and philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) wrote that tragedy had to be serious, wide in its scope, and complete in itself. The tragic hero was high-born, and neither particularly good nor particularly bad, merely normal in his balance of the two. Due to some tragic flaw (a weakness or mistake on his part) the tragic hero goes from happiness to misery and death. There is often a supernatural element in tragedy, and the feeling that the tragic hero has somehow aroused the anger of the gods or controlling powers of the universe. There is also frequently a sense of waste at the death of the tragic hero, a feeling also of relief that he or she is spared more pain and suffering, and a moment of tragic recognition where the tragic here recognises both his fate and his weaknesses. Catharsis occurs at the end of a tragedy, often with a sense of final peace and regeneration. All authors,including those from Greek times, have rung the changes on these features, which should not be viewed as in any way binding. In his Poetics, Aristotle defined tragedy as:

The imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions. Later he spoke of the plot:

Plots are either simple or complex, since the actions they represent are naturally of this twofold description. The action, proceeding in the way defined, as one continuous whole, I call simple, when the change in the hero's fortunes takes place without Peripety or Discovery, and complex when it involves one or the other, or both. These should each of them arise out of the structure of the Plot itself, so as to be the consequence, necessary or probable, or the antecedents. Subsequently, Aristotle spoke of the tragic hero:

There remains, then, the intermediate kind of personage, a man not pre-eminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgement, of the number of those in the enjoyment of great reputation and prosperity; e.g. Oedipus, Thyestes, and the men of note of similar families. The perfect Plot, accordingly, must have a single, and not (as some tell us) a double issue; the change in the hero's fortunes must be not from misery to happiness, but on the contrary from happiness to misery; and the cause of it must lie not in any depravity, but in some great error on his part; the man himself being either such as we have described, or better, not worse, than that. (By water's translation). There is little of note between him and the writers of the Renaissance period. Diomedes (4th c. AD), for example, remarks that tragedy is a narrative about the fortunes of heroic or semi-divine characters. Isidore of Seville (c. 6th-7th c.) observes that tragedy comprises sad stories about commonwealths and kings. John og Garland (12th c.) describes tragedy as a poem written in the grand style about shameful and wicked deeds; a poem which begins in joy and ends in grief. And Chaucer, in the prologue to The Monk's Tale, gives a representative medieval view: Tragedie is to seyn a certeyn storie,

As olde bookes maken us memorie,
Of hym that stood in greet prosperitee
And is yfallen out of heigh degree
Into myserie, and endeth wrecchedly.
Later, Sir Philip Sidney eloquently refers to 'high and excellent Tragedy' that opens the greatest wounds and displays the ulcers covered with tissue; tragedy which makes kings fear to be tyrants and tyrants to 'manifest their tyrannical humours'. Sidney goes on to say that it stirs 'the affects of admiration and commiseration, teacheth the uncertainty of this world, and upon how weak foundations gilden roofs are builded.' In the end it becomes fairly clear, from both theory and practice, that, hitherto, tragedy has tended to be a form of drama concerned with the fortunes and misfortunes, and, ultimately, the disasters, that befall human beings of title, power and position. For example: Oedipus, Agamemnon, Antigone, Hecuba, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, the Duchess of Malfi, Samson, Phèdre, Jaffier and Belvidera, Cato, Don Carlos, Brand, Deirdre... What makes them tragic figures is that they have qualities of excellence, of nobleness, of passion; they have virtues and gifts that lift them above the ordinary run of mortal men and women. In tragedy these attributes are seen to be insufficient to save them either from self-destruction or from destruction brought upon them. And there is no hope for them. There is hope, perhaps, after the tragedy, but not during it. The overwhelming part about tragedy is the element of hopelessness, of inevitability. This aspect of tragedy is nowhere better expressed than by the Chorus at the beginning of Anouilh's play Antigone: ... The machine is in perfect order; it has been oiled ever since time began, and it runs without friction. Death, treason and sorrow are on the march; and they move in the wake of storm, of tears, of stillness... Tragedy is clean, it is restful, it is flawless... In tragedy nothing is in doubt and everyone's destiny is known. That makes for tranquillity. There is a sort of fellow-feeling among characters in a tragedy: he who kills is as innocent as he who gets killed: it's all a matter of what part you are playing. Tragedy is restful; and the reason is that hope, that foul, deceitful thing, has no part in it. Tragedy is the disaster which comes to those who represent and who symbolize, in a peculiarly intense form, those flaws and shortcomings which are universal in a lesser form. Tragedy is a disaster that happens to other people; and the greater the person, so it seems, the more acute is their tragedy. Put at its crudest - the bigger they are the harder the fall. In a way, also, tragedy is a kind of protest; it is a cry of terror or complaint or rage or anguish to and against whoever or whatever is responsible for 'this harsh rack', for suffering, for death. Be it God, Nature, Fate, circumstance, chance or just something nameless. It is a 'cry' about the tragic situation in which the tragic hero or heroine find themselves. On the plane of reality, the life and death of Christ have all the basic traditional elements of tragedy -especially inevitability. His death was foreseen and forecast, and was a 'foregone conclusion'. And even Christ was very nearly without hope. His cry of agony and despair from the Cross was the final proof, so to speak, of the authenticity of his human nature. By participating vicariously in the grief, pain and fear of the tragic hero or heroine, the spectator, in Aristotle's words, experiences pity and fear and is purged. Or, again crudely, he has a good cry and feels better. But then, comedy purges, too - through laughter. And laughter and tears are so closely associated physically and physiologically that often we do not know whether to laugh or to cry. And comic relief in tragedy serves many purposes, not least preventing the spectator from being overcharged with tragic emotion. Classical Greek tragedy is almost wholly devoid of comedy (though the occasional grim observation or rejoinder might raise a laconic smile), but the Greek tragedians made up for this by having a satyr play to make the fourth part of the tetralogy and this was a kind of palliative burlesque after the full cathartic experience of pity and fear. The Greeks were the first of the tragedians and it was upon their work only that Aristotle formed his conclusions. Unhappily, owing to Aristotle immense prestige and authority, his theories were later misapplied and misused: either by trying to make them fit all forms of tragedy; or by doing the opposite and excluding all those works which did not fit his descriptions. Both misapplications were equally harmful. Tragic flaw

A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero. Othello's jealousy and too trusting nature is one example. See Tragedy and Tragic hero. Tragic hero
A privileged, exalted character of high repute, who, by virtue of a tragic flaw and fate, suffers a fall from glory into suffering. Sophocles' Oedipus is an example. See Tragedy and Tragic flaw. Tragicomedy A genre of play that dominated mid- to late twentieth century drama and that inspires agitation, frustration, and anxiety; tragicomedies deal with serious topics but provoke laughter and express the lack of coherent values in the world.

Trap room A room beneath the stage floor from which scenery and actors can rise to the stage through a trap door.

Turning point: The moment in the unfolding of the plot when a change happens that leads inevitably to the resolution of the dramatic question; also called the “crisis.” The observable moment when, in a story or play (or indeed in many kinds of narrative), there is a definite change in direction and one becomes aware that it is now about to move towards its end. This is a change of fortune; what Aristotle described as peripeteia, or reversal. It is the equivalent of reaching a peak and beginning the descent beyond. In tragedy, especially, one is conscious of this crucial or fulcral point

Two-dimensional painted scenery Scenery, particularly cloth backdrops, painted to suggest three dimensions though obviously two-dimensional.

Virtual place The fictional place in which the action of a play takes place.

Virtual time The fictional time in which the action of a play takes place. wagons Rolling platforms used to move scenery onto a stage.
willing suspension of disbelief A phrase coined by the nineteenth-century English poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge to explain the convention by which an audience can enjoy a theatrical performance by knowingly setting aside its objectivity.

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