DRAMA

Report
DRAMA
INTRODUCTION TO HUMANITIES
DRAMA
Drama is a species of literature whose
basic medium is spoken language.
 Drama can be read, somewhat like a
poem or novel.
 But the word “drama” comes from the
Greek word meaning “act.”

Drama
Drama is spoken language acted, to be
produced for public exhibition, usually
upon a stage.
 Drama as a complete work of art exists in
the presentation.

Aristotle and the Elements of Drama
Much of what modern commentators say
about drama goes back to theories
Aristotle put forth in his Poetics.
 His ideas were interpreted as rules.
 They interpreted tragedy as a serious
action whose consequences reached
sometimes as far as the gods.

The rules devised in the eighteenth
century (and earlier) insisted on the
“unities”: that there be only one plot in a
tragedy,
 That the action should take place in one
locale, that it should be completed in one
day, and that the main character should
display a unity of behavior.

Aristotle felt that tragedy evoke or ought
to evoke two emotions from the audience:
 Pity and fear
 Pity was sympathy for the tragic hero;
 Fear was the awareness that such a fate
could be fall anyone.

THE IMITATION OF LIFE
No other art comes closer to life and
hence drama, more than any other art.
 This led Aristotle to his theory of art as
the imitation of nature – nature being life
in general not just outdoors.

ELEMENTS OF DRAMA
Drama uses the resources of the theater
to show human action in such a way that
we gain deeper understanding of human
experience.
 The basic elements of drama are action,
character, setting, and ideas.
 Action is the plot or ongoing business of
the characters – what they strive for,
what they expect to see happen.

Character is either developed or flat,
 Either individuated or typed, either
psychological or symbolic.
 Setting is either established explicitly and
reproduced on stage with realistic or
expressionist sets,
 Or it is hinted at and suggested.

Archetypal drama aims at symbolic or
mythic interpretations of experience.
 For instance, one’s search for personal
identity, since it seems to be a pattern
repeated in all ages, can serve as a
primary archetypal structure for drama.

GENRES OF DRAMA: TRAGEDY
Carefully structured plots were favored by
Aristotle, and are usually essential in
tragedies.
 But for the best tragedies, according to
Aristotle, the action must also arise from
the searching of a noble character.
 The strengths and flaws of the protagonist
 Must be factors contributing to the
dramatic outcome.

But when we turn to the great tragedies
that most define the genre, we think
immediately of great characters: Oedipus;
Agamemnon; Prometheus: Hamlet:
Macbeth…
 In most modern tragedies, such as O’Neil’s
Desire Under the Elms and Miller’s Death
of a Salesman, the characters still remain
at the center of the drama.

COMEDY: OLD AND NEW
Old Comedy is associated with our modern
farce, burlesque, and the broad humor
and make-believe violence of slapstick.
 New Comedy is suave and subtle.
 New Comedy developed type characters,
such as the gruff and difficult man who
turns out to have a hear of gold, the good
cop, the bad cop…

TRAGICOMEDY: THE MIXED GENRE
The tragic mask with a downturned mouth, and
the comic mask with an upturned mouth hang
on the wall of many stages.
 If there were a third mask, it would probably
have an expression of bewilderment as is
someone had just asked a totally unanswerable
question.
 Mixing the genres of tragedy and comedy in a
drama may give such a feeling.

EXPERIMENTAL DRAMA
The last forty years have seen exceptional
experimentation in drama in the Western
world.
 Another important thrust of experimental
drama has been to assault the audience.

SUMMARY
The subject matter of drama is the human
condition as represented by action.
 By emphasizing plot and character as the
most important elements of drama,
Aristotle helps us understand the priorities
of all drama.
 Some archetypes seem related to the
natural rhythms of the seasons and focus,

Summary
cont’d
Comedy has several distinct genres.
 Old Comedy often abuses individual
characters and revels in broad humor.
 New Comedy emphasizes the comedy of
manners, a social commentary that often
depends on type characters.
 Tragicomedy combines both genres to
create a third genre.

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