Introduction to Theatre Online Course
Last revision date: January 4, 2008
Objectives for this lesson:
Students will examine:
the unique position of the playwright in the theatre
some characteristics of the playwright's craft
Note the spelling -- "wright" refers to a "maker" (similar to a "shipwright" or an iron worker who has "wrought" iron"). This suggests that it is something other than just literary.
The play is the framework upon which the performance rests.
A script not always necessary (commedia d'ell art and improvisation both use a scenario -- a set of characters, situations, or relationships, ). but even without a written script -- uses elements of human behavior, but at the minimum is an "idea" of place, situation, character, image, or conflict, etc. In a scenario, many elements of a script are present. (W/G discuss the concept of the "authorless" theatre, and maintain that the playwright is still central to the theatre...)
Each age has its "standard" of what is acceptable; it depends on:
different kinds of plays "require" different standards (decorum -- ways in which characters are expected to behave, bases on social circumstances / expected roles -- this is a term that developed during the Renaissance and is not mentioned on the text) during different periods.
playwright's personality will also has influence on what will be "standard."
Tasks of the Playwright:
1) select subject matter
2) determine focus and emphasis
3) establish purpose
4) establish point of view
5) develop dramatic structure
6) create dramatic characters
Tools of the Playwright:
The playwright's style will be determined by, at least, playwright's assumptions about truth and reality -- partly from societal perceptions.
Manner of playwright's manipulation of expression: character, idea, language, actions, spectacle.Presentation in theatre -- unity of style, matching performance and play, unifying of elements.
Most Western dramatic theory is based on, or a variation of, or a rejection of, Aristotle's Poetics (335 BC).
Horace in Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry) interpreted Aristotle -- Aristotle for the Romans.
During the Renaissance (c. 1300 century AD), Aristotle was "rediscovered," primarily through a rediscovery of Horace
Aristotle examined the plays of one century earlier (the 5th century BC, the Golden Age of Greece) and came to conclusions.
Aristotle suggested that a tragedy had at least six distinct parts...
1. Plot2. Character3. Thought (theme, idea)4. Diction (Language)5. Music (sound)6. Spectacle
commedia d'ell arte
To take a short self-graded quiz, click here...