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Introduction to drama, theater, and culture

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This PowerPoint presentation provides a comprehensive introduction to the history of drama and theater as related to culture.

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Introduction to drama, theater, and culture

  1. 1. Analiza Perez-AmuraoHumanities and Languages Division MUIC
  2. 2.  “Ofthe many kinds of literature, DRAMA is perhaps the most immediately involved in the life of its community.”
  3. 3.  “Of the many kinds of literature, DRAMA is perhaps the most immediately involved in the life of its community.” “But unlike most literature, drama has been composed for performance, confronting the audience in the public, social confines of a theater.”
  4. 4.  “Of the many kinds of literature, DRAMA is perhaps the most immediately involved in the life of its community.” “But unlike most literature, drama has been composed for performance, confronting the audience in the public, social confines of a theater.” “To understand drama, we need to understand THEATER, because the theater forges the active interplay between drama & its community.”
  5. 5.  “Not surprisingly, the place of the theater in a city’s social and physical geography symbolizes drama’s place in the culture at large.”
  6. 6.  ClassicalAthens: theater adjoined a sacred precinct, plays were part of extensive religious and civic festival
  7. 7.  Greekdrama: engages questions of moral, political, &religious authority.
  8. 8.  In17th C. Paris: the close affiliation between the theater and the court of Louis XIV is embodied in drama’s concern with power, authority, and the regulation of rebellious passions.
  9. 9.  In the US: most live theater are found either in the privileged setting of colleges & universities, or in the “theater districts” of major cities competing for an audience alongside movie theaters, clubs, etc.
  10. 10.  “Staging a play puts it immediately into a dynamic social exchange: the interaction between dramatic characters, between characters and the actors who play them, between the performers and the audience, between the drama onstage and the drama of life outside the theater.
  11. 11.  Theatron : Greek word for “theater” = “seeing place” = plays engage audiences largely through visual means
  12. 12.  Theatron : Greek word for “theater” = “seeing place” = plays engage audiences largely through visual means Less than a century ago, live plays could be seen only on the stage; today, most of us see drama in a variety of media: TV, film, & theater; past 500 years or so, drama was accessed in a nontheatrical venue: reading books
  13. 13.  In the theater: dramatic text is fashioned into an event, existing in space & time
  14. 14.  In the theater: dramatic text is fashioned into an event, existing in space & time Space of the stage: becomes the place of the drama
  15. 15.  In the theater: dramatic text is fashioned into an event, existing in space & time Space of the stage: becomes the place of the drama The characters: embodied by specific individuals
  16. 16.  In the theater: dramatic text is fashioned into an event, existing in space & time Space of the stage: becomes the place of the drama The characters: embodied by specific individuals; how an actor interprets a role tends to shape the audience’s sense of that dramatic character
  17. 17.  THEDRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance.
  18. 18.  THE DRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance. THE PROCESS OF PERFORMANCE is irreversible.
  19. 19.  THE DRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance. THE PROCESS OF PERFORMANCE is irreversible. EACH MOMENT becomes significant yet unrecoverable.
  20. 20.  THE DRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance. THE PROCESS OF PERFORMANCE is irreversible. EACH MOMENT becomes significant yet unrecoverable. A THEATER COMPANY inevitably confronts material facts of the theater: a specific cast of actors
  21. 21.  THE DRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance. THE PROCESS OF PERFORMANCE is irreversible. EACH MOMENT becomes significant yet unrecoverable. A THEATER COMPANY inevitably confronts material facts of the theater: a specific cast of actors, a given theatrical space,
  22. 22.  THE DRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance. THE PROCESS OF PERFORMANCE is irreversible. EACH MOMENT becomes significant yet unrecoverable. A THEATER COMPANY inevitably confronts material facts of the theater: a specific cast of actors, a given theatrical space, a certain amount of money,
  23. 23.  THE DRAMA ONSTAGE is bound by the temporal exigencies of performance. THE PROCESS OF PERFORMANCE is irreversible. EACH MOMENT becomes significant yet unrecoverable. A THEATER COMPANY inevitably confronts material facts of the theater: a specific cast of actors, a given theatrical space, a certain amount of money, & the necessity to transform the rich possibilities offered by the play into a clear & meaningful performance.
  24. 24.  Throughout its development, dramatic art has changed as the theater’s place in the society has changed.
  25. 25.  Throughout its development, dramatic art has changed as the theater’s place in the society has changed. Much as drama & theater today emerge in relation to other media of dramatic performance like film & TV, so in earlier eras the theater defined itself in relation to other artistic, social, & religious institutions.
  26. 26.  Inancient Egypt: religious rituals involved the imitation of events in a god’s or goddess’s life.
  27. 27.  In ancient Egypt: religious rituals involved the imitation of events in a god’s or goddess’s life. In Greece: drama may have had similar origins; by the 6th C. BCE, plays had become part of a massive religious festival celebrating the god Dionysus.
  28. 28.  In ancient Egypt: religious rituals involved the imitation of events in a god’s or goddess’s life. In Greece: drama may have had similar origins; by the 6th C. BCE, plays had become part of a massive religious festival celebrating the god Dionysus. In Europe: theater waned with the decline of the Roman Empire & the systematic efforts of the Catholic church to prevent theatrical performance. Yet, emerged with the church support when revived in the late Middle Ages.
  29. 29.  In feudal Japan: the Buddhists developed a form of theater to illustrate the central concepts of their faith(12th through 13th centuries).
  30. 30.  In feudal Japan: the Buddhists developed a form of theater to illustrate the central concepts of their faith(12th through 13th centuries). By the 14th C. in Japan: theater became conventional for the great samurai lords- or SHOGUNS- to patronize a theatrical company, giving rise to the classical era of the NOH theater.
  31. 31.  Bythe 14th C. in Japan: the aristocratic NOH theater was rivaled by the popular- often quite contemporary- KABUKI theater.
  32. 32.  Inclassical & medieval Europe: secular performance also took place.
  33. 33.  In classical & medieval Europe: secular performance also took place. Many plays were performed only on religious occasions, though, and their performers were usually itinerant, lacking the social and institutional support that would provide them with lasting & continuous existence.
  34. 34.  In classical & medieval Europe: secular performance also took place. Many plays were performed only on religious occasions, though, and their performers were usually itinerant, lacking the social and institutional support that would provide them with lasting & continuous existence. In the Renaissance of the 15th & 16th C.: the Western theater became a fully secular, profit-making, & commercial enterprise.
  35. 35.  In the 16th C.: the European theater was part of a secular entertainment market, competing with bear-baiting, animal shows, athletic contests, public executions, royal & civic pageants, public preaching, & many other attractions to draw a paying public.
  36. 36.  In the 16th C.: the European theater was part of a secular entertainment market, competing with bear-baiting, animal shows, athletic contests, public executions, royal & civic pageants, public preaching, & many other attractions to draw a paying public. Also, the theater in this period emerged as a distinct institution, supported by its own income;
  37. 37.  In the 16th C.: the European theater was part of a secular entertainment market, competing with bear-baiting, animal shows, athletic contests, public executions, royal & civic pageants, public preaching, & many other attractions to draw a paying public. Also, the theater in this period emerged as a distinct institution, supported by its own income; the theater became a trade, a profession, a business, rather than a necessary function of the state or religious worship.
  38. 38.  Inother words, plays were not considered serious, permanent literature.
  39. 39.  In other words, plays were not considered serious, permanent literature. HOWEVER, there was also the desire to transform drama from ephemeral theatrical “entertainment” into permanent literary “art” and it began to be registered in the Renaissance.
  40. 40.  In other words, plays were not considered serious, permanent literature. HOWEVER, there was also the desire to transform drama from ephemeral theatrical “entertainment” into permanent literary “art” and it began to be registered in the Renaissance.
  41. 41.  HOWEVER, there was also the desire to transform drama from ephemeral theatrical “entertainment” into permanent literary “art” and it began to be registered in the Renaissance. In the 1616: edition of Works by the poet & playwright Ben Jonson, he insisted on publishing the importance of the volume by publishing it in the large, FOLIO format generally reserved for classical authors.
  42. 42.  HOWEVER, there was also the desire to transform drama from ephemeral theatrical “entertainment” into permanent literary “art” and it began to be registered in the Renaissance. In the 1616: edition of Works by the poet & playwright Ben Jonson, he insisted on publishing the importance of the volume by publishing it in the large, FOLIO format generally reserved for classical authors. In 1623: seven years after W. Shakespeare’s death, his friends & colleagues published a similar, folio-sized collection of his plays.
  43. 43.  Bythe 1660s & 1670s: writers at the court of Louis XIV in Paris achieved both literary & social distinction as dramatists.
  44. 44.  By the 1660s & 1670s: writers at the court of Louis XIV in Paris achieved both literary & social distinction as dramatists. Yet, despite many notable exceptions, the theatrical origins of drama prevented contemporary plays from being regarded as “literature”- although plays from earlier eras were increasingly republished & gradually seen to have achieved “literary” merit.
  45. 45.  By the 1660s & 1670s: writers at the court of Louis XIV in Paris achieved both literary & social distinction as dramatists. Yet, despite many notable exceptions, the theatrical origins of drama prevented contemporary plays from being regarded as “literature”- although plays from earlier eras were increasingly republished & gradually seen to have achieved “literary” merit. By the 19th C.: contemporary plays achieved “literary” recognition by avoiding the theater altogether.
  46. 46.  In the late 19th C.: great playwrights carved a space for themselves as dramatists by writing plays that were unstageable.
  47. 47.  In the late 19th C.: great playwrights carved a space for themselves as dramatists by writing plays that were unstageable. 20th-century drama & theater: there was a split between “literary drama” & the “popular theater.”
  48. 48.  In the late 19th C.: great playwrights carved a space for themselves as dramatists by writing plays that were unstageable. 20th-century drama & theater: there was a split between “literary drama” & the “popular theater.” Plays of the artistic AVANT-GARDE were more readily absorbed into the CANON of literature, while more conventional entertainments-TV screenplays, for instance- remained outside of it.
  49. 49.  Dramatic GENRES are kinds of drama, each with its own identifying formal structure & typical themes.
  50. 50.  Dramatic GENRES are kinds of drama, each with its own identifying formal structure & typical themes. TRAGEDY: usually considered to concern the fate of an individual hero, singled out from the community through circumstances and through his or her own actions.
  51. 51.  Dramatic GENRES are kinds of drama, each with its own identifying formal structure & typical themes. TRAGEDY: usually considered to concern the fate of an individual hero, singled out from the community through circumstances and through his or her own actions. TRAGEDY: the hero’s course of action entwines with events & circumstances beyond his or her own control.
  52. 52.  TRAGEDY: as a result, the hero’s final downfall-usually, but not always involving death-seems at once both chosen and inevitable.
  53. 53.  TRAGEDY: as a result, the hero’s final downfall-usually, but not always involving death-seems at once both chosen and inevitable. COMEDY: focuses on the fortunes of the community itself.
  54. 54.  TRAGEDY: as a result, the hero’s final downfall-usually, but not always involving death-seems at once both chosen and inevitable. COMEDY: focuses on the fortunes of the community itself. COMEDY: while the hero of tragedy is usually unique, the heroes of comedy often come in pairs: the lovers who triumph over their parents in romantic comedies, the dupe & the trickster at the center of more ironic or satirical comic modes.
  55. 55.  Points toward the  Points toward some hero’s downfall or kind of broader death reform or remaking of society, usually signaled by a wedding or other celebration at the end of the play. TRAGEDY COMEDY
  56. 56.  OTHER GENRES: Melodrama Tragicomedy Farce Neoclassical drama Theater of the absurd Revenge tragedy
  57. 57.  Inabout 335 BCE: Aristotle’s Poetics set down the formal elements of drama through MUSIC & SPECTACLE
  58. 58.  Inabout 335 BCE: Aristotle’s Poetics set down the formal elements of drama through MUSIC & SPECTACLE Modern elements: plot, characters, dialogue, theme, convention, genre, & audience
  59. 59. Reference:Worthen, W. B. (2000). The Harcourt Brace anthology of drama, 3rd edition. USA: Thomson Heinle.

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