..?..?..?.. ● The question asked is ● WHAT IS DRAMA..?

Can we truly define it..? – Is there a 'textbook' definition for this word..? – What is drama in relation to theatre..? – Why is drama so important..? – What are its uses, its aims..?

Some have said that drama develops selfesteem and encourages creativity and imagination. This is true, and will be demonstrated through examples from personal experiences. Usually the first thing that occurs in a drama class is that someone will ask for a definition of the word drama. At first glance, it seems a simple question, but as one begins to delve into the true nature of drama, the answer is not so cut and dry

For some, drama is a type of television show, such as a KbSb or Kahani GGki show. For others, it is that section of the movie rental hire a CD and 'chick flicks' are. For still others, drama means Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare.



For teachers, drama means all and none of these things. A clear definition is needed in order to lead the students in various activities, and towards various goals. What good is it to have the students explore within themselves if the teacher does not know what the aim or direction of the exploration is?

Many teachers claim that their purpose of drama is to develop the child's sense of self. This however is slightly vague. Most people in education strive for this in one way or another. Bettering the child in body mind and spirit is a general goal for teachers, so this idea is not particular to drama.


So then,
what exactly is drama..?

An expressive process which is best understood through the idea of symbolization and its role in the discovery and communication of meaning (McGregor 24). This is an accurate definition, as it also goes on to explain that drama is 'multi-faceted' and that the child gains experience through voice, language and the body as prime means of expression; and the associated media of light, sound and space (McGregor 24).


Drama is tension. In the context of a play in a theatre, Tension often means that the audience is expecting something to happen between the characters on stage.
i.e., Will they shoot each other? Will they finally confess their undying love for one another? Will Oedipus figure out that he was the one that caused the plague by killing his father and married his mother?

Oedipus at the end

Drama on stage often reflects the drama of everyday life, BUT
(just like other forms of literature and art)

it concentrates life, focuses it, and holds it up for examination




“Dran” a Greek Word, Means “To do” or “To Act” The Doing/Acting Makes Drama
“ A THING HAPPENED”. -In literary context : Dramatic text -In present context: Unexpected thing happened Drama is a written text it becomes play when played by player. Drama…is a story told in front of an audience


Drama presents a sequence of situations in which characters express themselves through what happen to them which they do / to do.

IT IS EXTRACTED FROM TWO WORDS 1. THEOMAI (a Greek word) 2. THEATRON (an Italian/Latin word) The meaning of these two words are: A place to see A place to site & see A place to site , see & perform A comprehensive element in which audience and performers involved.




The object of the performance should be to create something believable, human and to make the audience think.

So the actors try to find a way of conveying the thoughts and experience of their characters

To do this they need a wide supple techniques a set of skills (mental & physical) that enables them to convey their understanding of a character and allows a great variety of expressionisms

Another aspect one can concentrate on is body movement and non-verbal communication. We say so much about ourselves through body language. If we can learn to control each part of our bodies and the movements it may make, we can be more in control of our lives. Focus and concentration also plays a large part in drama

Oedipus with his mother/wife

Oedipus the king

Personal feelings are not the only subject for drama. Drama can be used to introduce the student to a number of different topics, be it historical, political, scientific, or artistic. A variety of situations can be concocted, allowing the child to explore his actual social relationships at the real level, and an unlimited number of hypothetical roles and attitudes at the symbolic level (McGregor 24).

By experimenting with various roles in society, the child becomes better prepared to face these challenges in the real world. As well, by allowing him/herself to experience things as a different personality and by letting the imagination grow free, the teacher is building up the child's confidence in him/herself and the validity of their own ideas and feelings. The child is now more perceptive to the needs and feelings of others, having portrayed many different types of people.

Gavin Bolton's definition of dramatic action as a tool for learning that rests in its capacity (1) to separate and objectify an event and (2) to break down established concepts and perceptions (142).

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Child Drama


In the early 1950s,

wrote a book entitled as

Peter Slade

“ Child Drama”

“The world was changing; people's perceptions were changing. Children were finally seen as people who needed to be nurtured, directed, guided. Unfortunately there were still some groups who felt that the traditional outlook (drama with an audience) was the way to go.”

Peter Slade was advocating drama for personal development. He stated that he sees formal theatre as a final stage in a child's development (Bolton 22). Many traditionalists extrapolated from this statement that he was anti-theatre.

Peter Slade was not anti-theatre, he merely felt that not all activities had to be performed; some were for self-exploration only. He wanted to turn away from the formalised styles designed to make all children sound like 'little adults' and turn back to the natural direction that children wanted to take.

For me, drama has always allowed me to become characters that I would never play in real life. Play-acting has made me more creative; I can use my imagination to its full potential, as I no longer feel threatened by an audience. I have always found play-acting and other creative drama exercises to be therapeutic whenever I was distressed. By interacting with others in the group I have developed an appreciation for the mind and for the spirit. My view of society has changed; each one of us has a place in it, and it is up to the individual to define that place, however it is the duty of the group to adapt to each individual. This is the only way to lead a successful and happy life outside of the classroom, in the real world.

Me & Drama



Since plays are written with the intention of performance, the reader of the play must use his/her imagination to enact the play as he/she reads it. Readers of the play need to imagine not just feelings or a flow of action, but how the action and the characters look in a theater, on a stage, before a live audience.

4 basic Elements of Drama

Voice Body Movement Emotional Expression Memorization:

Voice: Volume - project your voice to fill the room in which you perform Clarity - take the time to clearly enunciate all consonants Rate - Use pauses and speak slowly enough to be clearly understood

Body Movement: Cheating out - turn your body toward the audience Exaggerated gesture - emphasize physical gestures to communicate them more clearly Facial expression - use "big" expressions that embody emotion

Emotional Expression: Use the voice and the body together to convey emotional states to your audience. This is the central work of an actor.

Memorization: Knowing your lines is the essential first step to working on the three previous elements.

Aristotle was born in Stagirus, Macedonia, Greece in 384 BC and died 62 years later in 322 BC. He was a student at Plato's Academy and later became one of the greatest philosophers of Ancient Greece. In one of his treatises, The Poetics, he outlines the Six Elements Of Drama, based on the Ancient Greek belief that tragedy was the highest form of Drama. This outline has become a guideline for many playwrights throughout history, and is especially emphasized in the works of William Shakespeare.

The six elements listed below follow the format suggested by Aristotle's Poetics in Greece around 300 B.C. While these elements are ranked by Aristotle in this order according to importance, note that many modern plays have little plot and much spectacle. In the end, however, the most important element for all theatre is telling the story

ELEMENTS OF DRAMA by Aristotle's

Aristotle's Six Elements of Drama
1. Plot (the incidents or story line) 2. Character (physical, social, psychological, moral--people represented in the play) 3. Thought/Theme (insights into humanity and life) 4. Music (all sound) 5. Spectacle (scenery and other visual elements) 6. Diction/language (the dialogue and poetry)

1. PLOT - (a map, a chart) The overall structure of a play. This consists of a beginning a middle, and an end. The beginning establishes given circumstances, has the inciting incident and progresses to the middle, which has the rising action and conflict, leading to a climax. The end, also called the denouement, establishes new circumstances which the conflicts (now resolved) have brought about.

2. CHARACTER - (an engraving instrument) The participants in the play. Characterization is developed in three levels: PHYSICAL, SOCIAL, and PSYCHOLOGICAL.

3. THOUGHT - (to seem like something else) The themes, concepts and ideas in the play. Generally speaking, a play needs to be UNIVERSAL in thought (which makes it appeal to the basic emotions and ideas of the majority) and yet needs to be INDIVIDUAL, or as others would say, personal, unique or original.

4. DIALOGUE - (between words or thoughts) The exchange of ideas by characters in a play. Dialogue gives information, reveals character, directs play and audience attention, reveals play themes, controls tempo and rhythm.

5. MUSIC - (the art of sound and tone) The sound of a play. Most performers only consider music as sound provided by musical instruments, yet the sound provided by the human voice is very critical to a play's success. Music in Theatre is the sound of the human voice, sound effects, and sound provided by instruments for mood or rhythm.

6. SPECTACLE - (to see) The visual elements of a production. Spectacle gives information about locale, time and style of a production. Spectacle aids characterization. Spectacle establishes the mood of a play.

“Art is one way of ordering, clarifying, understanding, and enjoying our experiences.” -Oscar

Brockett, theatre scholar

Aristotles Six Elementsthe order of events, the of Drama PLOT – what happens in a play;
THEME – what the play means as opposed to what happens (plot); the main idea within the play.

story as opposed to the theme; what happens rather than what it means.

CHARACTER – the personality or the part an actor represents in a play; a role played by an actor in a play. DICTION/LANGUAGE/DIALOGUE – the word choices made by the playwright and the enunciation of the actors delivering the lines. MUSIC/RHYTHM – by music Aristotle meant the sound, rhythm and melody of the speeches. SPECTACLE – the visual elements of the production of a play; the scenery, costumes, and special effects in a production.



Character Plot Theme Dialogue Convention

Genre Audience Stagecraft Design Conversions

Aristotle's Definition
Play Structure: 1. Exposition 2. Rising Action 3. Climax 4. Falling Action 5. Resolution/Denouement

Freytag's Triangle
Gustav Freytag was a German writer and critic born in Kreuzburg, Silesia, in July of 1816, and died in 1895. In his book Technique of the Drama (1863), he proposed a method of analyzing plots derived from Aristotle's concept of unity of action that came to be known as Freytag's Triangle or Freytag's Pyramid.

Freytag's Triangle

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Structure of a Play


i.      Prologue and or start of play with introduction of characters, date, place, time, setting, and exposition and inciting incident introduced ii.      Point of attack, introduce primary conflict and central dramatic question

  i.      Characters pursue objectives and encounter obstacles ii.      Answers sought; goals of characters conflict with other characters iii.      Characters attempt to overcome obstacles and challenges iv.      Characters plan tactics, succeed, fail, attack, retreat, surprise, and are surprised, encounter major reversals and a crisis is reached

i.      Characters engage in final conflict (climax of play) ii.      Characters main objective achieved of lost iii.      Central dramatic question is answered, theme or ideas of play confirmed. Resolution where order is established

The basic Characteristics of the cause to effect arrangement are: Clear exposition of situation Careful preparation for future events Unexpected but logical reversals Continuous mounting suspense An obligatory scene Logical resolution

Genre/Form of Play
Drama is divided into the categories of tragedy, comedy, melodrama and tragicomedy.  Each of these genre/forms can be further subdivide by style and content.

Theater Space The Proscenium Theater The Thrust Stage The Arena Stage Variant Forms The Fixed Architectural Stage Auditoriums

Set Design,, realistic, abstract, suggestive, or functional. Stage Facilities Lighting Design Costume Design Mask, Makeup Technical Production Sound and Sound Effects




In an arena theatre the actor is totally surrounded by the audience. Entrances to the acting area are normally made through the audience at the four corners of the stage. It look like tennis court.

In a thrust stage theatre the actor is surrounded on three sides by the audience-the fourth side contains the scenery. Entrances to the acting area are through the scenery upstage and through the audience at the two front corners of the stage. Preferable to fashion show, rock show etc.,

In a proscenium house the actor is on a raised platform in front of the audience. Scenery typically fills the space behind, upstage of, the actor. Entrances to the playing space are made through the scenery, we prefer this type only.










a story told in front of an audience

Elements of Drama
Playwright-the author of a play Actors-the people who perform Acts-the units of action Scenes-parts of the acts

Elements of Drama
Characterization -playwright’s technique for making believable characters

Dramatic Speech
Dialogueconversation between or among characters Monologue-long speech by one single character (private thoughts)

Stage Directions
Found in brackets [ ] Describe scenery and how characters speak C, Center Stage L, Stage Left R, Stage Right U, Upstage or Rear D, Downstage or Front

Where a play takes place

Construction on the stage that shows time/place Could be called Scenery

Small movable items that the actors use to make actions look real

Art is skill acquired by experience, study, and clear observations. Ramesh B. Dramatics Specialist

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Bibliography Forman, R.J. Classical Greek and Roman Drama: An Annotated Bibliography. Salem Press, 1989. The Classical World Bibliography of Greek Drama and Poetry. New The Poetics, by Aristotle York, 1978.