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Comedy

A literary work aimed at amusing an audience. One of the basic modes of storytelling and can be adapted to most literary forms-from poetry to flim. Action often involves the adventures of young lovers, who face obstacles and complications that threaten disaster but are overturned at the last moment to produce a happy ending.

Burlesque

Incongruous imitation of either the style or subject matter of a serious genre, humorous due to the diparity between the treatment and the subject.

Comedy of Manners

A realistic form of comic drama that flourished with seventeenh-century playwrights. Deals with the social relations and sexual intrigues of sophicsticated, intelligent, upper-class men and women, whose verbal fencing and witty repartee produce the prinicipal comic effects. Stereo-typed characters from contemporary life.

Farce

A type of comedy featuring exaggerated character types in ludricrous and improbable situations, provoking belly laughs with sexual mix-ups, crude verbal jokes, pratfalls, and knockabout horseplay.

High Comedy

A comic genre evoking so-called intellectual or thoughful laughter from an audience that remains emotionally detached from the play's depiction of the folly, pretense, and incongruity of human behavior.

Low Comedy

A comic style arousing laughter through jokes, slapstick humor, sight gags, and boisterous clowning. Little intellectual appeal.

Romantic Comedy

A form of comic drama in which the plot focuses on one or more pairs of young lovers who overcome difficulties to achieve a happy ending (usually marraige).

Slapstick comedy

A kind of farce, featuring pratfalls, pie throwing, fisticuffs, and other violent action. It takes its name originally from the slapstick carried by the main servant type.

Satiric comedy

A genre using devisive humor to ridicule human weakness and folly or attack political injustices and incomptetence. Often focuses on ridiculing characters or killjoys, who resist the festive mood of comedy. Such characters, called humors, are often characterized by one dominant personality trait or ruling obsession.

Tradegy

The representation of serious and important actions that lead to a disastrous end for the protagonist.

Tragiccomedy

A type of drama that combines elements of both tradegy and comedy. Usually, it creates potentially tragic situations that bring the protagonists to the brink of disaster but then ends happily. Can be traced as far back as the Renaissance.

Melodrama

Originally, any drama accompanied by music used to enhance mood or emotion. By the nineteenth century, it became highly stereotypical and favored sensational plots over realistic characters. Characters are stock characters, usually either highly virtuous or villainous, and plots are generally sensational and improbable. Virtue inevitably triumphs over villainy. The term is used today almost exclusively as a pejorative.

Ampitheater

arena theater with rising tiers around a central open space

Orchestra

In classical Greek theater architecture, "the place for dancing", a circular, level performance space at the base of a horseshoe-shaped ampitheater, where twelve, then later fifteen, young, masked, male chorus members sang and danced the odes interspersed between dramatic episodes in a play. Today, it is the ground floor seats in a theater or concert hall.

Skene

In classical Greek staging of 5th century BC, the temporary wooden stage building in which actors changed masks and costumes when changing roles. It served as part of the set.

Picture-frame stage

Developed in the 16th century Italian playhouses, it held the action within an arch, a gateway standing "in front of the scenery". It framed painted scene panels to give the illusion of 3-dimensional perspective although only one seat in the auditorium fully experienced the complete perspective illusion and that seat was reserved for royal patrons. This stage was the norm until the 20th century in Europe.

Proscenium arch

Separating the auditorium from the raised stage and the world of the play, the architectural picture from or gateway "standing in front of the scenery" in traditional European theaters from the 16th century on.

Troubadours

The minstrels of the late Middle Ages. Originally, they were lyric poets living in southern France and northern Italy who sang to aristocratic audiences mostly of chivalry and love.

Commedia dell'arte

A form of comic drama developed by guilds of professional Italian actors in the mid-16th century. Playing stock characters, masked players improvised diaologue around a given scenarios (with a brief outlinejmakring entrances and main course of action). In a typical play a pair of young lovers (played without masks), aided by a clever servant (Harlequin), outwit older masked characters.

Madrigal

A short secular song for three or more voices arranged in counterpoint. It is often about love or pastoral themes. Originated in Italy in the 14th century and enjoyed great success during the Elizabethan Age.

Theater of the absurd

Post WWII European genre depicting the grotesquely comic plight of human beings thrown by accident into an irrational and meaningless world. Ex. Samuel Beckett's "Wairing for Godot". ("A play about nothing" Jerry Seinfeld would say. LOL)

Plot construction ways

exposition, foreshadowing, theme, symbolism, suspense, rising action, climax, denouement, falling action

Character revelation ways

direct description, revelation by other characters, self-revelation

closet drama

a play or dramatic poem designed to be read aloud rather than performed.

dramatic question

the primary unresolved issue in a drama as it unfolds; result of artful plotting, raising suspense and expecation in a play's action as it moves toward its outcome.

stage business

nonverbal action that engages the attention of an audience

unities

3 priniples of good drama laid down by Italian literary critics in 16th century in order to give it a cohesive & complete integrity: action, time, place.

tragic flaw

An error or weakness on the part of the protagonist that aids in bringing about his or her reversal of fortune.

Restoration period

After 1660 when Charles II was restored to the English throne and reopeed the London playhouses which had been closed by the Puritans, who considered theater immoral.

satyr play

type of Greek comic play that was one of the four parts of the traditional tetralogy; subject matter treated in burlesque, drawn from myth or the epic cycles

prologue

a preparatory scene

parados

the song for the entrance of the chorus

masks

personae; the source of our word person, "a thing through which sound comes"

cothurni

high, thick-soled elevator shoes that made them apear taller than ordinary men.

hamartia

causes hero's downfall; his error or transgression or his flaw or weakness of character.

purgation

katharsis; feeling of relief of pent-up emotions

reversal/peripety

an action that turns out to have the opposite effect from the one its doer had intended

box set

the illusion of scenic realsim for interior rooms was achieved in the early nine-teenth century with the develoment of this; consisting of three walls that joined in two corners and a ceiling that tilted as if seen in perspective.

Symbolist movement

an international literary movement that originated with nineteenth century French poets to make literatur resemble music; avoided direct statements and exposition for powerful evocation and suggestion to capture visions of higher reality.

Expressionism

a dramatic styles developed bet. 1910& 1924 in Germany in reactio against realism's focus on surface details and external reality. To draw an audience into a dreamlike subjective realm, it used episodic plots, distorted lines, exaggerated shapes, abnormally intense coloring, mechanical phyical movement, ad telgraphic speeh. Plays ranged from utopian visions of a fallen, materialistic world redeemed byt the spirituality of "new men" to pessimistic nightmare visions of universal catastrophe.

theater in the round

arena theater

flexible theater

also called black box or experimental theater space. Modern nontrationa performance space in which actor-audience relationships can be flexibly configured, with movable seating platforms.

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