Roudebush Honors Options Drama Terms
Terms in this set (30)
A character that serves as contrast to another character in the same production. Many times, this character will have a lot in common with his/her counterpart.
A dramatic convention that allows a character to be seen by the audience, that remain hidden from fellow actors.
A literary art form that re-creates human life and emotions.
Techniques that substitute for reality.
The sequence a 5-act play follows including inciting moment, exposition, rising action, complication, climax or turning point (reversal), falling action, denouement or (catastrophe and moment of lost suspense in tragedy) Gustav Fraytag 1863.
An event that is memorable for the appearance it creates (first used in Aristotle's time to mean the visual elements of a play i.e. scenery, costume, movement, gesture, etc.)
(Plural Soliloquies) a speech in a play made by a character who is alone on stage, understood as the character's thoughts.
(Latin for "persons of the drama"): a list of characters at the start of a play.
A lengthy speech by a single character in a play, either alone or to others (like Helena's speech at the end of scene I of A Midsummer Night's Dream). Distinguished from a soliloquy because the speaker is not necessarily alone on stage.
A dramatic convention: a speech to the audience, understood to be the speaker's thoughts.
Necessary or convenient features of literature which audiences unquestioningly accept. An example from drama is the "fourth wall": the audience's understanding that a scene showing characters indoors has an invisible wall between the audience and the stage.
Away from the audience. Used a verb, it means to force an actor to turn away from the audience. This it has come to mean "to draw attention from".
Toward the audience. So called because stages used to be slightly sloped.
The movements of actors on a stage. Directors who block (or block out) a scene chart the positions and movements of actors.
A literary genre intended primarily to amuse the audience. Like tragedy, the term originally applied only to comedies but is now also used for other genres.
According to Aristotle, the purging of pity and fear that tragedy causes in viewers.
The resolution of the plot of tragedy, depicting the final downfall of the protagonist.
Extreme (or "overweening") pride, especially when considered a tragic flaw.
According to Aristotle, an error of judgement that causes the downfall of a tragic protagonist. The concept is often identified with the tragic flaw or fatal weakness in character, such as the jealousy for Othello or the pride of Oedipus.
A parody of a myth. The final part of the tetralogy in Athenian dramatic competitions.
Tetralogy or Trilogy
Respectively, a group of four or three plays. In Athens during the age of Sophocles (the fifth century B.C.), competitions were held in the spring during rituals honoring Dionysus. The first three plays were a trilogy of tragedies.
A Latin stage direction meaning "exit" but referring to two or more characters. Exeunt omnes means "all exit".
Instructions in a script or play text. Early editions of Shakespeare include some stage directions but omit some that must have been intended. Modern editors include conjectures (i.e. guesses) of stage directions, sometimes enclosing them in brackets.
Stage Left and Stage Right
These terms refer to the point of view from someone facing the stage. To the actor facing the audience, this, stage left means right and stage right means left.
Irony that results when characters say or do something of greater significance than they realize. The audience's knowledge is superior to that of the character(s).
A fast-paced exchange of witty retorts in modern comedy, used most prevalently by Shakespeare.
A group of twelve or fifteen performers who sang and danced the odes; they represented elders (leading citizens). Their spokesmen, the choragos, had speaking parts during the scenes.
One of the songs which the chorus performed between episodes. The opening ode, sung as the chorus entered the stage, was called the parados; it's final ode, sung upon exiting, was the exodus. Parts of an ode were called strophe and antistrophe. The strophe was probably sung while the chorus danced from stage right to stage left, the antistrophe was the opposite.
A scene. The term is used for any scene in a novel or an installment of a TV series. The first episode (providing exposition) was the prologue, the final episode the epilogue.
A literary genre depicting serious actions that usually have a disastrous outcome for the protagonist. Strictly speaking, the term applies only to drama, but it is not also used for novels. Greek tragedy originated in religious rituals worshiping the god Dionysus. This form of drama is structured to give the audience a feeling of catharsis after viewing a production.