Introduction to drama for beginners and ESL Learners
Dr. Vijayeswari Subba Naidu
Why do we teach Drama to ESL Students
1. Drama is a unique tool, that simulates reality
and develops self-expression.
2. Drama techniques make students experience
language in operation and provide motivation
to use language embedded in a context and a
3. Drama techniques break the monotony of a
4. It prepares students to face their immediate
5. There are opportunities to become competent
users of the English language because they can
use the language in operation
Etymology & Definition
• Drama began in ancient Greece. The word "drama"
has its roots in Greek words ‘dran’ meaning "to
act" and "to do."
• A play is a collaborative process, and the study of
drama involves the study of acting, directing,
writing, music and art. History, psychology, and
even religion also have a part in understanding
• Drama is a story told in front of an audience
• Connect personal experiences to events in the drama
by using questioning techniques.
• Visualize the characters as you read stage directions.
• Evaluate characters' words and actions and
determine what motivates them.
• Notice character change and growth.
• Compare characters by making chart.
• Analyze monologues and soliloquies.
• Read the play aloud.
• Identify the setting and evaluate how it affects the
• Identify major and minor conflicts.
Elements of Drama
• Playwright-the author of a play
• Actors-the people who perform
• Acts-the units of action
• Scenes-parts of the acts
between or among
• Monologue-long speech by
one single character
• The internal or
forces, ideas, or
interests that create
• Found in brackets [ ]
• Describe scenery and how
• C, Center Stage
• L, Stage Left
• R, Stage Right
• U, Upstage or Rear
• D, Downstage or Front
A tragedy is a play that ends unhappily.
• Tragedies pit human limitations against the larger forces of
right and wrong
justice and injustice
life and death
• Most classic Greek tragedies deal with serious, universal
themes such as
The protagonist of most classical tragedies is a tragic hero. This
• is noble and in many ways
• has a tragic flaw, a personal
failing that leads to a tragic
A comedy is a play that ends happily. The plot usually centers on
a romantic conflict.
boy meets girl boy loses girl boy wins girl
The main characters in a comedy could be anyone:
• Comic complications always occur
before the conflict is resolved.
• In most cases, the play
ends with a wedding.
• Modern Comedies
– In modern comedies, the genders in this romantic
plot pattern sometimes are reversed.
A modern play
• usually is about ordinary people
• may be tragedy, comedy, or a mixture of the two
• usually focuses on personal issues
Modern playwrights often experiment with
unconventional plot structures.
visual projections of a
Drama in Middle ages Modern Drama
Plays were primarily religious in
Passion plays, mystery plays,
miracle plays and morality plays
depicted stories and themes from
Clergymen wrote plays with the
intention to give religious
Humor crept into plays over time.
Modern drama has a
diversity of themes and
explores genres, cultures,
experiences and issues.
Religious plays of medieval
times had informative, realistic
and melodramatic acting styles.
Characters were stereotypically
depicted in an informative
Today, drama is realistic in
style but also symbolic,
ritualistic and even
Experimentation with style
and presentation is
standard in modern drama.
Actors in the Middle Ages were
Actors were poor and considered
at the bottom end of society
Today, actresses fill countless
roles and are some of the
richest and most idolized
members of society.
Switching up gender and
gender roles is part of the
experimental process of
Medieval plays were
originally mounted in
As the plays' set designs
expanded, the performers
took their drama to the
Acting troops formed and
toured their plays in wagons.
The influence of street
performers, like travelling
musicians was there.
Today, some travelling
acting troops still exist,
but most performances
are either housed in
theatres or captured on
film and available on the
television and Internet.
In Medieval plays passion,
mystery, miracle and
morality could hardly
entertain, because they began
as vehicles to teach religion
rather than amuse the
But as spectacle, humor and
sensationalism became part of
these religious plays,
audiences responded with
awe, laughter and approval
Today, drama has more
subtle, intellectual and
Technology still provides
become part of dramatic
When you read a play, remember that it is meant to
be performed for an audience.
Playwright describes setting
and characters’ actions and
[Wyona is sitting on the
couch. She sees Paul and
jumps to her feet.]
Wyona. [Angrily.] What do
Performance of a Play
Theater artists bring the
playwright’s vision to
life on the stage.
The audience responds
to the play and shares
Performance of a Play
Theater artists include
Stages can have many different sizes and layouts.
Setting the Stage
• The stage extends into the viewing area.
• The audience surrounds the stage on three sides.
“In the round” stage is surrounded by an audience on all
Setting the Stage
Setting the Stage
• The playing area extends behind an opening called a
• The audience sits on one side looking into the action.
stage leftstage right
Setting the Stage
Stages in Shakespeare’s
time were thrust stages.
Scene design transforms a bare stage into the world of the
play. Scene design consists of
A stage’s set might be
A lighting director skillfully uses light to change the mood
and appearance of the set.
The costume director works with the director to design the
• Like sets, costumes can be
Props (short for properties) are items that the characters
carry or handle onstage.
• The person in charge of props must make sure that the
right props are available to the actors at the right
The characters’ speech may take any of the following forms.
Dialogue: conversations of characters onstage
Monologue: long speech given by one character to others
Soliloquy: speech by a character alone onstage to himself or
herself or to the audience
Asides: remarks made to the audience or to one character; the
other characters onstage do not hear an aside
Finally, a play needs an audience to
experience the performance
understand the story
respond to the characters
Like the plot of a story, the plot of a play involves characters
who face a problem or conflict.
point of highest tension;
action determines how the conflict
will be resolved
conflict is resolved;
characters and conflict are
Conflict is a struggle or clash
characters or forces. A
conflict may develop . . .
between characters who want
different things or the same
between a character and his or
within a character who is torn
by competing desires
• Comparison : What are the differences between the
• Induction: Based on the characters change and growth
and conflict and denouement what can we conclude?
• Deduction: Based on the rules of the tragedy and
comedy what could be the conclusion? What must
happen for the conspirators plot to work?
– What qualities do the characters share?
– In what ways deviate?
Learning techniques - contd
• Error Analysis
– What errors in THE judgment and final action and in the
characters who fall into problem ?
– What pattern does the characters exhibit?
– Is there anyone else we've read about that demonstrates
the same pattern?
– How can you avoid demonstrating this pattern in your life?
• Analyzing Perspectives
– Why the hero or heroine and the villain behave in a
– How will you relate it to the writer’s period and to your