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Topics: Theatre, Drama, Play Pages: 23 (6942 words) Published: February 27, 2013
What is the difference between a stage play and a film?
In: Movies, Theater [Edit categories]


A stage play is performed live. There is the possibility that there will be mistakes during the performance (technical difficulties, forgetting your lines, etc). The actors have to project their voice and make their movements and facial expressions big and obvious enough for the audience to be able to hear/see them. The cast of a stage play will rehearse the show for months before the first performance, and the performance dates can go on for months as well. Auditions for a role in a stage play usually only take a couple of weeks.

A film is recorded. You're allowed to make some mistakes because you can just start over and film it again (as opposed to trying to cover it up in front of a huge live audience). The actors have to be realistic and believable (as opposed to big and obvious). The cast of a film will usually only have several minutes to rehearse the scene before filming it, and this applies to each scene filmed. It can take a few weeks just to film one scene (filming the scene, lighting, different angles, facial close-ups, pan views, etc). Filming can take as long as a month to a year or more. Auditions for a role in a film can take months.

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What's the difference between drama and theatre?

Like many playwrights, Edward Bond seems to think that one is superior to the other

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Edward Bond
Drama is not theatre ... Edward Bond. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

The playwright Edward Bond raised a few eyebrows recently by, among other things, dubbing Brecht "the playwright of Auschwitz". His argument was so patently absurd that I barely hiccuped. Instead, another statement caught my eye. Bond was speaking of a production of his play The Woman, which he directed at the National: "I went back to see it after it had been playing for a week and the actors were doing it as if it were Tom Stoppard. They were doing 'theatre'. But drama is not 'theatre'." You could almost hear his disgust.

It seems that Bond has a very specialised definition of "theatre", one that comprehends the entire art form as, heaven forbid, a kind of meta-Tom Stoppard play. But his comment gave me pause, because this distinction between "drama" and "theatre" is one I've heard many times before, and almost always from writers.

The implication usually is that, while "theatre" is a vacuous, commercial or essentially trivial enterprise, Drama transcends theatre's vulgar origins and leaps into Art. As Mrs O'Neill said of her husband, Eugene O'Neill was no mere playwright: he was a dramatist, and thus sat with the gods. Drama, we are given to understand, is Serious. Through the landscape of Drama stride the likes of Sophocles and Euripides and Shakespeare, lightning bolts of genius in each hand, their brows corrugated with Olympian thought.

An impressive picture, certainly, and one can see at once why a jobbing playwright might aspire to such divinity. But something inside me is irked by this picture. I love writers - why, some of them are my best friends - but it does seem rather self-serving. There is, in any successful production of even the most uncontroversially play-like play, rather more going on onstage than just the words: there's an entire texture of sound, design and performance and, crucially, there's an audience responding to it. If drama is just about the writer, then it might as well stay on paper.

If I'm in categorising mode, which is lamentably seldom for a critic, I think of theatre as the general noun, and of drama, like comedy, as a subset of theatre. Theatre has many mansions, and writers are resident only in some of them.

Critic Hans-Thies Lehmann coined the term "post-dramatic theatre" to describe a shift in practice away from a hierarchical model, with the writer (usually a dead writer) at...

Links: 20. “SECRET HONOR” (1984) -- Play and screenplay by Donald Freed & Arnold M. Stone. Directed by Robert Altman.
19. “THE WINSLOW BOY” (1999) – Play by Terence Ratigan. Screenplay and directed by David Mamet.
17. “CLOSER” (2004) – Play and screenplay by Patrick Marber. Directed by Mike Nichols.
15. “A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS” (1966) – Play and screenplay by Robert Bolt. Directed by Fred Zinnemann.
12. “EQUUS” (1977) – Play and screenplay by Peter Shaffer. Directed by Sidney Lumet.
11. “ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD” (1990) – Play, screenplay, and directed by Tom Stoppard.
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