Point of AttackAction – Starts once the character makes a discovery – sets the action in motion and the action has a beginning, middle and an end (in logic, not in time)Reversal – change in course of action due to discoveries along the protagonists journey Complication – the opposing or entangling of the actionConflict – a common kind of complication, one that is central to most (but not all) plays. Situation in which one or more characters try to thwart the ideas and actions of anotherRising action – action of increasing complicationCrisis – derived from Greek word for decision means “decisive moment” - a turning point to the action. Crisis usually results when the play’s major discovery leads to the major reversal. Falling action or Denouement – the unraveling of complication, the declining action as crisis is passed and complication is resolved.
How to Read a PlayHow to See a Play
Reading vs. SeeingWhen you read a baseball box score, you can understandeverything that happened in the game, but it’s not thesame as watching it unfold live in front of you!
Reading vs. SeeingA blueprint contains all of the instructions you need tocreate and understand a building, but it does not give youthe same experience as walking around inside it.
How Do You Approach A Script?To Look for CLUES, start here:• Title• Cast of Characters• Opening Stage Directions• What characters say about themselves• What characters say about each other
An Excerpt from “The Heart of Darkness” By Joseph Conrad. . . Who was not his friend who had heard him speak once? she wassaying. He drew men towards him by what was best in them. She lookedat me with intensity. It is the gift of the great, she went on, andthe sound of her low voice seemed to have the accompaniment of allthe other sounds, full of mystery, desolation, and sorrow, I had everheard--the ripple of the river, the soughing of the trees swayed bythe wind, the murmurs of the crowds, the faint ring of incomprehensiblewords cried from afar, the whisper of a voice speaking from beyond thethreshold of an eternal darkness. But you have heard him! You know!she cried. When you read a novel, the author fills in most of the details for you, telling you what characters and locations look like, how the people sound, and even what they’re thinking.
Opening Scene from Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things(The Museum. Silence. Darkness.)(Large white box of a room. Wooden floor polished to a high shine. Several hallways feed off in different directions.)(A young woman stands near a stretch of velvet rope. She has a can in one hand and stares up at an enormous human sculpture. After a moment, a young man [in uniform] steps across the barrier and approaches her.)ADAM: … you’ve stepped over the line. Miss/Umm, you stepped over…EVELYN: I know. / It’s “Ms.”ADAM: Okay, sorry, Ms, but, ahh…EVELYN: I meant to. / Step over…ADAM: What?/ Yeah, I figured you did. I mean, the way you did it and all, kinda deliberate like. / You’re not supposed to do that.EVELYN: I know. / That’s why I tried it…ADAM: Why? When you read a script, you have to fill in mostEVELYN: …to see what would happen. of the details yourself – these are decisions thatADAM: Oh. Well… me, I s’pose. the actors and director must make.EVELYN: “Me?”ADAM: No, I mean, I’m what happens, I guess. I have to to walk over, like I’ve done, and ask you to take a step back. Could you, please?/ Step back?EVELYN: And if someone doesn’t?/ What then?ADAM: …you’re not going to step back?
What do you need to have Theatre• Actors• Audience• An understanding of the ephemeral and immediate• Conflict (action)• A Heightened Vision (intense and concentrated version of the world)• A sense of theatrical time
Visit to a Small Planet According the article we read, each play is its own distinct world with its own distinct rules. The rules of the play do not have to match the rules of the real world that we live in day to day. Different directors may created different worlds for the same script. There is no right answer. Following, you’ll see five different approaches to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Each director asked some of the same questions you read in this article. What do you see about their answers?
So…How do we begin taking a play from page to stage?
This is from Poetics Aristotle’s (384-322 B.C.) – one of the most important 6 Parts of a Play documents in Western theatre.In order of importance:1. Plot2. Character3. Thought/Theme4. Diction/Language5. Music6. Spectacle
Ingredients to Plot• Plot – Exposition (background story – it may be revealed at any time throughout the play, but it is the events that occurred before the action of the play) – Point of Attack (the point where the play begins) – Inciting Incident (the event that sets the action in motion) – Complication (any new element that alters the course of action) – Discovery (new information) – Reversals (when the action takes a radically different direction) – Climax (the point of highest conflict) – Denouement (the resolution)
You may have Plot Structure seen Freytag’s plot diagram before… Climax Denouement A story is made up of all the events surrounding a set ofPoint of Attack characters. A plot is the specific events from that story that are chosen for this particular play.
Character• Physical or Biological: external appearance, such as species, sex, age, color, weight, height, hair color, eye color• Social: The character’s place in his or her environment, such as economic status, profession, family, relationships, and so on• Psychological: the inner workings of the mind that precede the action. This element is probably the most important, as most drama arises from conflicting desires, goals, and objectives• Moral/ethical: Moral choices and decisions; values; what characters are willing to do to get what they want (when the book says that this is mostly implicit, they mean that most characters won’t just say, “I value this” or “I believe this is a moral choice.” We learn by reading and watching.)
How do we learn about Characters?• What does the playwright tell us about the character in the stage directions?• What does the character say?• What do other characters say about the character?• What does the character do?
Types of Characters• Protagonist: the character who moves most of the action forward, often the character who changes the most• Antagonist: the character who provides the main obstacle or conflict for the protagonist• Raisonneur: the character who represents the voice of the playwright• Foil: a character who is designed to draw attention to a specific characteristic of the protagonist either by similarity or contrast• Confidant: a character that was part of the Neoclassical Ideal (more on this later) – they thought it wasn’t realistic for a person to talk to themselves in a soliloquy, so they introduced a confidant who was largely someone for the protagonist to talk to.
Thought/Theme• The basic meaning of the play – what’s it about and who is it for?• Look for clues – Title – Dialogue – Epigram – Allusion – Monologues – Imagery This whole list is – Prologue/Epilogue described in your – Character book… check it out! – Climax
Diction/Language• The words in the play – the specific words that are chosen and the way in which they are arranged and by whom they are said
Alexandre-Marie Colin: The Three Witches from "Macbeth" Music • Not just literal music, but also the sound, rhythm and melody of the language. Read the snippets of text on the next slide out loud to yourself. How does the music of each line inform the meaning? Do you learn anything about the characters? About the planet of the play?
Alexandre-Marie Colin: The Three Witches from "Macbeth" Music You common cry of curs! Whose breath I hate As reek of the rotten fens. - Coriolanus by William Shakespeare But Soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. -Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare My anger is too bridled. And my sadness – there is a cap on it, so it cannot get out. Lorenzo, who plays the harp, in the dark, you might think. Lorenzo, with kisses like Mediterranean apples, you might think. But no. It is I: Lorenzo, the unfeeling. -Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl Watch me close watch me close now: who-see-thuh-red-card-who-see-thuh-red- card? I –see-thuh-red-card. Thuh-red-card-is-thuh-winner. Pick-thuh-red-card- you-pick-uh-winner. Pick-uh-black-card-you-pick-uh-loser. Theres-thuh-loser, yeah, theres-thuh-black-card, there-thuh-other-lower-and-theres-thuh-red-card, thuh- winner. -Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks
Spectacle• All of the visual elements of the production – Set – Lights – Costumes – Dance – Movement – The Actors ThemselvesCheck out a few great examples of spectacle…
Alexandre-Marie Colin: The Three Witches from "Macbeth" Spectacle • It is important to Aristotle (and to me too) that when you read, you keep the spectacle of the play in your imagination. What do you see? What do the characters look like? How is the environment created? What iconic images can be used as metaphors?
Seeing a Play• When you SEE a play, you tend to focus on… – Spectacle – Music – Language• When you READ a play, you tend to focus on… – Plot – Character But they all work together to create the – Idea planet of the play you’re seeing!
When does your Theatre Experience Begin?• The Theatre itself Some productions begin creating the planet before the play even begins. – Program When you go see a play, keep your eyes open for all the details – someone – Physical Surroundings worked hard on them! – Pre-show Announcements
Important Ideas to Seeing a Play• The play’s conventions have to be clear! – Conventions are the rules of the planet that the director, designers, actors and audience have to agree to believe in • Conventions should be clear (that doesn’t mean that the production has to let you in on all the rules right from the beginning, but the fact that you’re going to learn about the world as you go along is one of the conventions… and that has to be clear!) • Conventions should be consistent within themselves (unveiling rules as you go along is okay, but suddenly changing the rules for no reason might make the audience turn against you) • Conventions should support the plot and the world of the play (don’t do something just because it’s cool… do it because it helps tell the story… and if it’s cool… bonus!)
What is a Genre?• Genre – A French word meaning “category” or “type” – Oldest and best-know genres are: • Tragedy • Comedy
Tragedy• From the Greek word “Tragoidia” meaning “Goat song” since their original theatre was part of a religious rite that included singing a song and sacrificing a goat. MMAAAAA!!
Tragedy• Considered by Aristotle and many others throughout history to be the highest form of theatre – The protagonist is upper class, superior – The protagonist is imperfect • The Greek word hamartia is an archery term meaning “to aim and miss” – the character tries to do what s/he thinks is right, but, through some flaw, misses the mark. – Reversal (peripeteia) – changes of fortune – Realization (anagnorisis) – change from ignorance to knowledge, often a realization of the character’s own fault in bringing about his/her downfall
Tragedy• Considered by Aristotle and many others throughout history to be the highest form of theatre – Pity and Fear – the people of the city see the misfortunes of the characters and they don’t want those misfortunes to happen to them – Catharsis – the audience experiences a release of tension and purging of the fear and pity and keeping the city working – Late point of attack – the plot begins fairly late in the story, so there is a lot of exposition – Unity of Place – the action all takes place in one location
Tragedy• Think about the rules of tragedy as laid out by Aristotle. Now think about stories from today that you might consider tragedies. What ingredients of tragedy have changed? What ingredients have remained the same?
Comedy• “A play which deals with ordinary life in a predominantly funny way and then ends happily.” (22)• Comedy of situation• Comedy of character• Comedy of ideas Check in with your book for detailed descriptions of each of these! And watch out for banana peels!
Sidebar: Commedia dell’Arte• The 1st mention of Commedia dell’Arte was in 1560• By 1600 there were Commedia troupes touring across Europe• The companies of 10-12 people shared responsibilities and profits… and yes… they allowed women on stage!• Their performances were largely improvised, but they were based on set scenarios, outlines and characters• Actors worked out repetitive comic bits called Lazzi• The term “slapstick” came from these shows, when they would use an actual stick to make a slapping sound during bits of physical violence CLICK HERE for a modern• Almost all characters were masked day example of lazzi
Sidebar: Commedia dell’ArteSTOCK CHARACTERS –actors would play the sametype of character in eachscenario. Some of thosecommon characters were:• Inamorati - Young lovers (no masks, Tuscan)• Capitano - The Captain (Spaniard)• Pantalone - The Merchant (of Venice)• Dottore - The Doctor (of Bologna)• Zanni - The Servants
Forms of Comedy• Farce: largely physical and exaggerated, lots of slamming doors and running around• Burlesque: racy, raunchy jokes and variety acts• Satire: pointing out and laughing at the absurdity of social norms• Domestic Comedy: laughing at the events of daily life in the home• Comedy of Manners: incongruities that arise from misdirected adherence to an accepted code of behavior
Melodrama• “Music Drama”• Very popular in the 19th Century, especially among the working classes. The overblown stories and spectacle as a means of escape from their dreary lives• Good and evil are clearly defined, and (spoiler alert) good always wins
Musical Theatre• Made in America – musical theatre as we know it came to be right here in America – that might be the only form of theatre for which this is true!• Emotions so strong, you just gotta sing and dance!
Genre• The book gives us a pretty limited list of genres… what are some other genres you can think of? I have no idea what this image has to do with genre, but it came up in my Google image search… so here ya go.