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LITERATURE NOTES ON DRAMA COMMON TERMINOLOGIES IN DRAMA DRAMA is a type of literature in which the writer uses the dialogue

form of human conflict projected by means of speech and action from the stage to entertain the audience. It is also called a PLAY. It is the presentation of a story or an idea through dialogue and action. To make his message effective and relevant to the audience, the writer sometimes creates situations or practices that are common in the society and presents it through the characters. The background also contributes to effective presentation of story in drama. Acts and Scenes are the segments in which drama is divided. The Major segment of actions and speeches of characters is ACT and the minor segments which make up the major is called SCENE. A scene embodies a group of actions that happen within one setting. Normally the opening scene introduces the characters and some major themes of the play. DRAMATIST This is the person who writes a piece of drama or a play. He could also be called a PLAYWRIGHT. DRAMATIS PERSONA (E) They are also called the cast especially when their names are listed. CURTAIN RAISER A short play performed to whet the appetite of the audience before the main play in the theater. STAGE The raised platform from where the actors perform. THE CURTAIN This the material which separates the stage from the audience. AUDIENCE These are the people who watch and listen to the play. INTERLUDE This is a short break in a play for a song/music. PROTAGONIST

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She/he is the main character or hero in a play. She/he is a major character who does many things, in fact, most of the play revolve around him or her. Hero or Heroine can be respectively given to a male or female protagonist. ANTAGONIST This is the character that opposes or constantly undermines the protagonist with the aim of bringing the protagonist’s effort to naught. VILLAIN This is a character who causes a lot of mischief in order to achieve his aim which runs contrary to the aim of the Hero. PROLOGUE This is an explanation which a writer puts at the beginning of a story or a play. Another term for it is prelude. EPILOGUE This is an explanation or exposition put at the end of a story/play. In drama it is often spoken by one of the actors/characters to bring the curtain down on the play. STEREOTYPE/FLAT/STATIC/UNDEVELOPING CHARACTER He or She is a character who is made to play the same role throughout the play or sometimes is seen to be doing the same thing throughout the story. He refuses to change with time or events. ROUND OR DEVELOPING CHARACTER He or she is the character whose role changes as the story unfolds. By listening to other character’s views, this character may make changes in his decisions and actions. He or she is adaptive to change not adamant to it. STOCK CHARACTER This character is a representative of a typical group he has no individuality he possesses few characteristics of his own. Examples of stock characters are the wicked stepmother, the maltreated orphan, the cunning fox and the spider in the Ghanaian tradition -Kweku Ananse. FOIL When two characters are paired, that is the are made to move in twos (either deliberately or by implication) so that the audience may notice the similarities and or differences between them, we say that each of these character is a foil to the other.

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TRAGIC HERO This refers to a main character that falls or ends sadly as a result of his/her weaknesses or forces beyond his/her control. This is a noble character whose flaws lead him to death, misfortune or downfall. COMIC HERO This is a main character that is found to be happy or successful at the end of the story. MAIN BRANCHES OF DRAMA We discuss five main branches of drama in this write-up. They are COMEDY, TRAGEDY, TRAGICOMECY AND MELODRAMA COMEDY A comedy is a serious play which ends on a happy note. It has a lot of humour and therefore makes the audience laugh a lot. In a comedy, the conflict is mostly in favour of the protagonist. It is a play that ends happily for the main character. Comedy is more artificial than tragedy. The endings often tend to be artificial, manipulated by some arbitrary turn of the plot. In comedy you find a villain pitched against other characters. CLASSIFICATION OF COMEDY A. COMEDY OF MANNERS: in this type of comedy the dialogue is in prose form and it provides a suitable means for witty exchanges. The display of verbal dexterity is its main feature. It is comedy that satirizes the manners and customs of a section of society, especially fashionable society. B. SATIRIC COMEDY: The characters in satiric comedy do not like the attitudes and norms of society as a consequence seek a reform. The main characters are bitterly perused for their follies. C. ROMANTIC COMEDY: This is love affair and it presents a situation of humour. OTHER CATEGORIES OF COMEDY I. II. III. HIGH COMEDY: In a high comedy the audience has to think hard to get the fun of it. It is usually not explicit. LOW COMEDY: In this type of comedy the fun is easily seen by the audience or the readers. BLACK COMEDY: This comedy invited laughter at serious or painful aspects of life such as diseases, pain, failure and death.

TRAGEDY A tragedy is a serious play that ends on a sad note. It is a play in which the final resolution of conflict goes against the protagonist. Usually, the main character starts as a noble man or a man of great admirable

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qualities but falls sometimes, dies sadly as a result ofhis flaws or weaknesses. Tragedy is the opposite of comedy. FLAWS HUBRIS OR NATURAL FLAW This is the psychological or emotional forces in the person that set the stage for his eventual doom. They include pride, ungovernable temper, arrogance, impatience, greed, overconfidence, inordinate ambition etc. Many of these forces are present tin people when they are born. If they are lucky, good upbringing would help curb them. If they are not, they grow with them and they eventually spell their doom. HARMATIA This is when a character commits a strategic mistake or when he fails to evolve the correct approach towards the resolution of a conflict. For example, a person who reveals a secret he had better kept causes harmatia and thus damages his own course. It is not character defect but wrong judgement. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRAGEDY AND COMEDY TRAGEDY 1. It has simple plot 2. The hero’s action result in sadness 3. The hero begins well but ends badly or sadly 4. Passions and dangers are very severe 5. The incidence, usually tragic, centres on a character with admirable qualities. 6. The events of the play are usually true and are based on historical facts. 7. The audience generally feel fear and pity in the end. COMEDY 1. It has complex plot 2. The hero’s action result in happiness 3. The hero begins very badly but ends happily 4. Passions and dangers are mild 5. The main character around whom the incidence occurs is usually an ordinary man. 6. The events are generally imaginary or fiction. 7. The audience feel happy and laugh at the end.

TRAGI-COMEDY A tragic-comedy is a play which leaves the audience in a mixed feeling. A feeling of both happiness and sadness. It is a blend of comedy and tragedy. MELODRAMA A melodrama is a play in which everything is crudely exaggerated for sensational effects, but usually ending on a happy note. It has a lot suspense, exaggerated excitement, tragedy, hairbreath escapes and oppressive villains. It aims at playing on the audience’s emotion.

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HISTORICAL PLAY This is a play based on historical facts. It portrays the lives and time of real people. For example Julius Caesar is a play based on real lives of people. TECHNIQUES USED IN DRAMA ASIDE It is a short speech or remark made by an actor, loud enough for the audience to hear but meant to be unheard by the other actors on stage. SOLILOQUY This is when an actor or a character speaks out his/her mind to him/herself. In most cases, he/she is not aware that he/she is speaking out loudly and that others are listening. FLASHBACK It is a device in drama whereby a scene recalls an event that occurred long ago in the past and not within the time limit of the present unfolding events. MIME It is an action, gesture or facial expression tat I not accompanied by words or speech. It carries information or feeling from the one who mimes. Example, nodding the head to show approval. FORESHADOWING It is a device in drama or in a prose in which something is hinted at before it happens. It is a sign of warning of something to come. It may create suspense and generate fear. CLIMAX This is the decisive or crucial stage in the plot of a play. It is the point where the major dramatic question is answered. It is here that the audience realize what they had been anticipating. There can be more than one climax in a play. ANTICLIMAX This occurs when the events or the episodes in the drama are arranged such that the subsequent events annuls or reduces the seriousness of the previous one. As a literary device, anticlimax can be said to be BATHOS. Example: He lost his life, his car and his purse. CHARACTERIZATION Character

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This is a person or animal who is involved in a piece of fictional literature. Often, characters are made to represent real people. It doesn’t mean however that characters in literary works are real life people. The author may describe the characters in the text. This method of exposing the character to the audience is known as EXPLICIT EXPOSITION. Another way of knowing how a character is is through his actions and sayings. This method of revealing the characters is known as DRAMATIC EXPOSITION. A character may be a MAJOR CHARACTER when much of the events of the play revolve around him or MINOR CHARACTER when he does not function often. Characterization This is the skill with which the writer creates his characters. The qualities they possess or don’t possess, what they feel and think and most importantly what they do are very important if they should perform the roles assigned them well. Dramatic Irony This is a chance remark, act, event or situation early in the play that prepares the ground for later great events without seeming to do so in the early stage. Thus while the audience know that a particular event would occur, the actors seem ignorant of it. Thus, the whole thing looks like one big conspiracy between the writer and the audience against the actors. A speaker in a drama may intent something but the audience know that the speaker’s intention may not be true. This is so because the audience know something ( said or done by other characters) which other characters do not know. Suspense This is the technique of raising and holding the audience’s or readers’ interest in keen anticipation of the outcome of events, ie. Wanting to know what happens next. A play that succeeds in keeping people in suspense most of the time is described as THRILLING. Comic Situation/Plot This is an artificial trick and used by the author to expose the comic nature of his characters. To do this the author puts comic or funny words into the character’s mouth. Disguise This is when a character pretends to be what he is not. Comic Language These are words which are to create fun. Comic relief This occurs when a humorous incident/event/episode/scene is brought after a sad/serious one so that the reader could laugh and therefore feel relieved of tension and sadness.

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Stage Directions These are the writer’s instruction meant to guide whoever is directing the play usually written in italics or enclosed in brackets. These are never meant to be part of the play and so never spoken, aloud, because they are never part of the dialogue. They tell how the character should look and sound like. They also tell where the action takes place. Stage directions may be found: i. ii. iii. Costume This is the dress or the attire worn by the actors in a play. Costume tells us much about the wearer. It may tell his/her mood, social class, the time which he/she is and so on. Cue This is the last word of a speaker’s speech which serves as a signal for the next speaker to come in . At the beginning of the scene to tell where the action takes place When a new character comes onto the scene to show his voice, personality or dress At the beginning of a speech to direct the actor as to how to speak.

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