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Drama015 Cumulative Flashcards


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What is dramaturgy?
An author's style (playwrighting)
What does "dran" mean?
Greek for "to act" or "to do"
What is collaboration?
The idea that many people are involved in a production, different people result in different performances with different potential
What is ephemeral mean?
Idea that theatre is fleeting, temporal, and short-lived; theatre lives and dies in the moment
What did Aristotle's "Poetics" say?
- plot
- character
- thought
- diction
- music
- spectacle (nonverbal elements)

Aristotle's work about drama that provided one of the earliest and most influential theories about drama (mimesis was his explanation)
What is the difference between drama and theatre?
Drama refers more to the actual text, theatre is the acting and then performance of the text
What is an amphitheatre?
An outdoor Greek theatre (could hold up to 15,000 people)
Who is Zeus?
The supreme sky god
Who is Dionysus?
One of Zeus's children by a mortal woman, associated with the idea of transformation (key idea to drama)
What is an orchestra?
Literally means dancing place; the cirlce area where the acting takes place in Greek amphitheatres
What is a skene?
A tent, one-story, simply structured building in Greek amphitheatres; multi-purpose, limits vision (because of open space), helps focus on the stage, physical changing place for actors, a secondary acting place, helped to illustrate social standings, a permanent fixture
What is City Dionysia?
A big blowout event in Athens; religious and social celebration; 3 days in the middle of the week were set aside for dramatic competition, 3 playwrights were chosen to compete, had to write 3 tragedies and 1 comedy
What is catharsis?
Idea that drama purges us of negatives, purging of emotions, releases pressures of everyday life (Aristotle's idea)
What did Plato think about theatre?
Believed that theatre was bad because it made people too emotional
What is dithyramb?
Songs or hymns to the gods; sung by a group of 50 men; religious tradition
What is epic poetry?
Oral, epic poet maintains their identity as narrator, reads for a group of people (Homer is associated with this)
Who is Thespis?
Member of a dithyrambic chorus who broke away from the other 49 members of the chorus; this creates the possibility of dialogue
What are the Greek literary conventions?
- plots based in myth
- use of the chorus
- no onstage violence (violent acts are only communicated to us, focus on tears instead of blood)
What are the Greek performance conventions?
- all male actors
- masks
- alternating song and verse (alternate between songs and dialogue)
- 3 actors in Sophocles (in addition to 12 member chorus)
What is a tragedy?
- Greek for "goat song"
- tragic figures often serve as scapegoats; take on the conflicts and problems of the day
What is hamartia?
A mistake or flaw (we cannot necessarily avoid tragedy)
What is hubris?
- Greek word that means "pride"
- central part of the main character in Greek tragedies (a good and a bad thing)
What is memesis?
Imitation of an action to gain knowledge (idea attributed to Aristotle)
What is irony?
The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning; audience usually knows more of what is going on than the characters do
What is climatic structure?
Single storyline that we follow, very concentrated, leaves out a lot of the beginning action (jumps right into the intense part of the play)
What is exposition?
The backstory, information that we need prior to the main action that sets the play up
What is reversal?
Changes in fortunes
What is recognition?
Moment when a character realizes his wrongs
What is pathos?
See a character expressing newfound knowledge (suffering and realization)
What are the main ideas behind a classic Greek tragedy?
- climatic structure
- high status characters: made it a bigger deal, magnified situation
- heightened language: written in poetry b/c of elevated themes
- irrevocable circumstances: no easy solutions
- responsibility and acceptance: idea that we are all responsible for ourselves, create our own futures
What are Sophists?
Secular - skeptic - relativism


Faith - tradition - absolutes
What is a polis?
A Greek city-state (ex: Athens, Sparta)
Why does tragedy have meaning?
- distance and perspective
- context for events
- moral framework
- release, cleansing, healing (some type of emotional release, catharsis)
What are the 10 crucial keys to comedy?
1) objectivity
2) surprise
3) exposure/deflation
4) the body and primal drives
5) focus on society
6) wish-fulfillment
7) triumphing over obstacles
8) reform
9) suspends natural laws
10) conditional
What is objectivity?
Judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices; a crucial key to comedy
What are 2 examples of comedy watched in class?
- "Meet the Parents"
- "Tommy Boy"
What is the Peloponnesian War?
Battle between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies; 431 to 404 BC; Sparta eventually won
What does Akroplis mean?
"High place"
What is the Parthenon?
Temple of Athena; had gold statues
What is Old Comedy?
Political in nature, mixes many different comic forms together, sense of not having an integrated plotline, jumps around from point to point, all about liberating society and making it free and happy
Who is Eros?
God of love, binds things together
What does Oikos mean?
What is a satyr play?
A comic play performed after the tragic trilogy in Greek tragedy competitions; the satyr play provided comic relief and was usually a farcical, boisterous treatment of mythological material
Who is Athena?
Born from her father Zeus's head; associated with homemaking skills and military strategy
What is a utopia?
An ideal society
What is "Quem Quaeritis" trope?
A brief dramatized section of the medieval church's Easter liturgy; the oldest extant trope and the probable origin of liturgical drama, it enacts the visit of the three Marys to Christ's empty tomb ("quem quaeritis" means "whom do you seek?" in Latin)
What is the Feast of Corpus Christi?
Celebrated the Son of God in human form on earth as part of Easter service; occurred in cities and towns throughout Europe in the 13th century
What are craft guilds?
Medieval equivalent of workers' unions, started implementing dramatic competitions (new blend of faith and civic pride)
What is a cycle or mystery play?
Written in the vernacular (the language in common use rather than in Lation) for performance outside the church; cycles, each of which treated biblical stories from creation through the last judgment, are named after the town in which they were produced
What is a morality play?
Didactic late medieval drama (flourishing in England c. 1400-1550) that uses allegory to dramatize some aspects of the Christian moral life; abstract qualities or entities such as Virute, Vice, Good Deeds, Knowledge, and Death are cast as characters who discuss with the protagonist issues related to salvation and the afterlife (ex: "Everyman")
What is allegory?
A play that does not intend to recreate everyday life; shows truths beyond this world ("speaking otherwise")
What is station or mansion staging?
Short individual stages are placed horizontally next to one another; our focus shifts from one station to another (but still a fixed space); ideal way of staging cycle plays
What is processional staging/pageant wagons?
Stages that could move themselves, created a physical hierarchy, idea is that the play comes to you (raised platform on wheels)
What was the importance of the 10th century?
Reemergence of theatre through the church (small plays were performed as part of the service)
What was the importance of the 13th century (1250)?
Drama and religion are now tied together very closely - plays in churches were allowed to move outside of the church b/c they were getting too big
What was the Renaissance?
Classical world rediscovered (backtrack from religious focus of medieval drama); focus on THIS WORLD; individual natures and potential explored
What is a soliloquy?
A character is speaking their thoughts aloud to the audience; can explore their inner psychology; creates a strong bond between characters and the audience (are on the stage ALONE)
What is an aside?
When a character is speaking their thoughts aloud onstage to the audience but other characters are on stage as well; the other characters on stage CANNOT hear these thoughts
What is metatheatre?
Theatre that draws attention to itself as theatre, uses itself consciously, illustrates how closely fiction and reality relate to one another
What is The Globe?
Where many of Shakespeare's plays were performed
What are licensed theatres?
Came about during period of English Renaissance drama
What are shareholding companies?
Puts pressure on lots of people for everything to work out ok with the production - ownership by many
What are the 5 keys to Elizabethean theatre?
1) period of new Humanism, great social change, upward mobility
2) England becomes a world power
3) drama goes secular
4) theatre goes commercial, professional
5) medieval inheritance in form, but not in content
What is the climatic structure?
- concentrated plot
- few characters
- restrictions: time, setting, events
- linear action
- sequential experience: cause and effect

GOAL: compression and intensity

ex: "Antigone"
What is the episodic structure?
- leisurely plot
- many characters
- expansion: time, setting, events
- multiple narratives
- web/network of experience: interrelationships

GOAL: breadth and variety

ex: "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
What is a thrust stage?
A stage extending beyond the proscenium arch, usually surrounded on 3 sides by the audience (comes out towards the audience); used in Elizabethean theatre era
What are the performance conventions of Elizabethean theatre?
- outdoor, daytime performances
- male actors
- platform stage
- small emphasis on spectacle beyond color and costume, driven by language and power of suggestion (use imagination)
- no "fourth wall" illusion
What is Shakespeare's dramaturgy?
- language: blank verse (as well as prose)
- rapid, continuous action
- soliloquy and asides
- parallels and contrasts
- metatheatricality and reflexivity: "All the world's a stage."
What are the 3 ways that Shakespeare introduced the idea of metatheatre?
1) vocabulary - references to theatre, play, characters within the play
2) disguises - audience aware of disguises
3) constant use of plays within plays
What is blank verse?
Unrhymed iambic pentameter (alternate beats)

- sounds natural
- rhythmic
- active: can carry a lot of imagery, sound and shape to carry sense and meaning
- practical
What are the qualities of theatrical art?
1) active
2) collaborative
3) communal
4) ephemeral
5) cumulative
6) duality and pretense
7) conflict and ambiguity
What are the 3 defining characteristics of a tragic hero or heroine?
1) passion
2) extremity
3) will-power
What is the evolution of Greek drama?
dithyrambs, Thespis, tragedy
What are the characteristics of melodrama?
1) popular, escapist, sentimental
2) clear-cut morality
3) whole characters (no internal conflict)
4) external conflict
5) focus on plot
6) emotional appeal
7) restores status quo (good always prevails)

- From French melo-drame ("music-drama")
What are the examples of melodrama watched in class?
- "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back"
- "The Quick and the Dead"
- "Enemy of the State"
- "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"
What were the philosophies of Darwin, Marx, and Freud?
Darwin - heredity (influence of the past)
Marx - environment (surroundings shape our character)
Freud - psychology (explores the subconscious and unconscious)
What are a few important 19th century reforms?
- society: rise of the middle-class, rise of capitalism and materialism
- philosophy: Darwin, Marx, and Freud
- technology: new style of theatre architecture, proscenium stage, 4th wall illusion
- playwriting
- theatrical productuion
What is the proscenium arch?
An arched structure over the front of the stage from which a curtain often hangs. The arch frames the action onstage and separates the audience from the action.
What is modernism?
A sense that the contemporary world was so different from the past that new art forms had to be explored
What is realism?
Challenged conventional thought, branched out from modernism

- accessible
- meaning and significance of daily behavior
- cause and effect (tries to show us the links)
- stable world (scientific method applied to art)
- empathy with the characters
What is a director?
A figure through whom all artistic choices must pass
Who is Stanislavski?
A Russian director; Father of Modern Acting
What is subtext?
Something that is happening beneath the surface
What is an ensemble?
All characters serve some type of function (even if it's only a very small function)
What was the Independent Theatre Movement?
- big movement throughout Europe
- each city had one or two independent theatres
- built smaller theatres, more concentrated audiences
- can work outside the norm, easier to dictate the audience
What is realism working against?
- melodrama
- well-made play
- naturalism
What is a well-made play and who is it associated with?
- had a superficial sense of realism, very formulaic
- based on contemporary events and people
- always about a social secret or indiscretion
- reinforced the existing values of the day while still providing excitement
- associated with Scribe
What is naturalism and who is associated with it?
- a branch of realism, huge focus on hereditary factors
- no free will
- associated with Zola
What is dramatic closure?
Everything ends nicely at the end of the play, all of the loose ends are tied together
What is Ibsen's dramaturgy?
- realism of theme
- prose as dramatic language
- elimination of soliloquies and asides
- close attention to character motivation
- symbolism in a concrete context
- no conventional closure or easy resolution
What is expressionism?
Does not attempt to give us surface reality of everyday life; takes us into the subjective world of the characters; explore inner experience
What examples did we watch in class to illustrate expressionism?
- "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"
- "The Wall" (Pink Floyd)
What is the difference between realism and expressionism?
Realism explores external reality and internal conflict

Expressionism is concerned ONLY with internal conflict; tries to turn the world inside out; compared to an X-ray (look below the surface)
What is expressionist dramaturgy?
- distorted for subjective truth
- dreamlike, nightmarish experience as a result of distortion
- types, abstractions: characters
- compressed, fragmented, telegraphic: action cut to the essence
- emotional states
What are other examples of expressionism viewed in class?
- Edvard Munch: lone person on bridge, anxiety
- Oskar Kokoschka: woman inside out
- Van Gogh: French village picture
What is relativity?
Relativity of human nature - idea is that it depends on where you're standing as to how you perceive things
What is "supernaturalism"?
Name that Strindberg gave his work; naturalism + expressionism
Who is Friedrich Nietzsche?
Idea that we need to become superhuman and break out of the imprisoning factors in the world (hereditary and class)

- Strindberg believed that only men could achieve this superhuman status; Jean attempts to in "Miss Julie" but fails
What is Strindberg's dramaturgy?
- combines naturalism and expressionism: "supernaturalism"
- breaks the fluid texture of conventional realism
- "characterless" characters
- compressed, concentrated action
- Nietzsche vs. modern determinism
- a theatre of relativity
What are the examples of farce watched in class?
- "Modern Times" (with Charlie Chaplain)
- "Saturday Night Live": Motivational Speaker
- "I Love Lucy": Vitameatavegamin
- "Mr. Bean": The Swimming Pool
What are the characteristics of farce?
- broad exaggerated style
- most extreme comic form
- anarchic, aggressive, subversive (comedy's dark side)
- indulges fantasies and drives (basic human drives)
- relieves anxieties and social pressures
- undermines convential values
- no necessary harmony or renewal

Farce - from Latin farce, "to force" or "to stuff"
What is method acting?
Goal is to create a seamlessness between the actor and their character
Who is the Father of Method Acting?
What are the examples watched in class of method acting?
- "Rebel Without a Cause" with James Dean
- "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh
- "Raging Bull" with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci
What is the anti-hero?
Figures who do not typically fill our traditional view of a hero; embodies the common man
Who is Konstantin Stanislavski?
- invented "The System" (or "The Method"), a form of acting (Moscow Art Theatre, MAT)
- Father of Acting
Who is Lee Strasberg?
- one of the co-founders of the Group Theatre
- one of the patriarchs of method acting
Who is Elia Kazan?
- acted in the Group Theatre
- directed "The Glass Menagerie" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" (helped to make Tennessee Williams popular)
In relation to theatre, what happened in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s?
1920s: plays that built upon Freud and Jung's ideas of psychology

1930s: plays concerned with politics, a social critique

1940s: plays combined psychology and politics
What is Tennesse Williams dramaturgy?
- deeply poetic realism
- focus on character and psychological revelation
- plots frame inner conflicts between ideal and real
- plight of sensitive individual in corrupt modern world
- symbolic settings, objects, production elements
- focus: awakening compassion and recognition of human dignity
What is verfremdung?
- from "verfremdungseffekt"
- means alienation, distancing, estrangement, to make strange
Aristotle ("Poetics") vs. Brecht
- imitation/mimesis
- identification/empathy
- catharsis

- narrative/reporting
- analysis/judgment
- withhold catharsis
What are the goals of epic theatre?
- demonstration (over identification and identity)
- (social) critique (over catharsis)
- transformation (over transportation)
What is Brecht's dramaturgy?
- discontinuity/episodes
- dialectics in characters
- stylized language
- v-effects: prologues, titles, quotations, songs
- "one thing after another" with social lessons
- only what's necessary to present events
- dymystification: mutually alienating elements
- focus: theatre as a force in social change
What are dialectics?
Deliberate, strong contradictions (ex: Mother Courage tries to keep her family together during the war and instead ends up losing all of them)
What are some elements of production in Brecht's plays?
- mutually alienating elements
- general lighting
- half-curtain
- placards/projections
- onstage band
What is the cart a metaphor for in the play "Mother Courage and all Her Children"?
The war: war is really a business, capitalism feeds on itself, immediate needs are the most crucial
Who is Sisyphus?
Greek figure who was condemned to roll a rock up a hill forever for no reason (same idea as Winnie in "Happy Days" who is trapped in a mound of dirt and does not know why)
What is situational structure?
- nothing linear
- going in a circle, but goes forward in time
- static condition
- events seem mysterious and are unexplained
- characters' motives and actions remain largely incomprehensible
- dialogue is irrational and confusing
What is existentialism?
Belief that there is nothing bigger than human life - there is nothing that gives us any meaning
Who is the Father of Existentialism?
Jean-Paul Sartre
Who is Martin Esslin?
Coined the phrase, Theatre of the Absurd
Who is Albert Camus?
- wrote "The Myth of Sisyphus"
- tries to EXPLAIN absurdity
What is absurdism?
- see humans as trapped or isolated in the universe
- differs from existentialism in that there is no effort to make our life mean anything; everything is worthless
What are the keys to absurdity?
- loss of metaphysical dimension
- inadequacy of human reason
- senselessness of human condition
- everything is either a mystery or meaningless
- neither tragic nor comic
What examples were shown in class to illustrate absurdism?
- Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?"
- Godzilla and fawn cartoon
- Painting: view of the back of a head looking in a mirror which reflects back of head when it should be front of head seen in mirror
Traditional vs. Absurdism
- plot
- events
- meaningful activity
- communicative language
- develops meaningfully
- interpretive tools

- situation
- stasis
- gratuitous acts
- impotent speech
- no development
- form equals content
What is Beckett's dramaturgy?
- traditional storyline, character and discussion abandoned
- dramatic events and meaningful action devolve into empty gestures
- no discernable logic of development
- grotesque comedy combined with bizarre tragic pathos
- homeopathic style: form embodies the content
- focus: impenetrable mystery of the human condition
What are the 2 examples of classical drama read in class?
- "Antigone"
- "Lysistrata"
What is the example of medieval drama read in class?
What is the example of Renaissance drama read in class?
"A Midsummer Night's Dream"
What are the 5 examples of modern drama read in class?
- "A Doll House"
- "Miss Julie"
- "The Glass Menagerie"
- "Happy Days"
- "Mother Courage and All Her Children"
What is the example of postmodernism drama read in class?
- "Topdog/Underdog"
Modernism vs. postmodernism
modern/"modo" - Latin for "just now"

postmodern/"pomo" - Latin for "after just now"
What is postmodernism?
- begins to distrust idea of stability
- see nature of self as an onion: nothing in the center, just lots and lots of layers (compare this to the Greeks - saw self as a peach, solid pit in the center)
- start to really question what art is
What are some examples of postmodernism viewed in class?
- new "Descending a Staircase" vs. "Mona Lisa"
- Monogram (picture/sculpture): stuffed goat with rubber tire around its middle attached to a flat canvas
- Campbell soup labels
- blown-up comic picture with new comment
What are three characteristics of post-modern art?
1) liberal use of quotation (recycling) - best we can do is recycle what has already been used
2) reflexivity (intertextuality) - art that is aware of itself
3) simulation (virtual reality) - everything is too real b/c it's simulated (allusion of reality)
What is deconstruction?
A means of critiquing unchallenged assumptions that lie behind traditional works
What are some characteristics of "Topdog/Underdog"?
- fractured style
- postmodernism
- world as a theme park, world is not stable
- abstract characters: no sense of strong personal identity
- more the brothers try to understand one another, the less they actually do
- very bleak; no resolution
What is "Topdog/Underdog" compared to in class?
"A Raisin in the Sun" - an earlier play also written by Suzan Lori-Parks
What are the 2 "realities" in "Topdog/Underdog"?
- arcade where Lincoln works
- 3-Card Monte on the streets (card hustling world)
What is reflexivity?
Life and art blending (metatheatre)
What are rests and spells and which playwright uses them?
Suzan Lori-Parks uses them; moments of complete silence and stillness on stage, where the characters experience their truest states and articulate who they are
What's American about American musicals?
- democratic and collaborative
- combine high art and popular entertainment
- influenced by American popular culture: esp. jazz and vaudeville
- refashion music, lyrics, and dance: American SPEECH set to American RHYTHMS with American EXPRESSIVENESS in the moment
- embody the energy, diversity, and optimism of America
What is the grandaddy of the modern musical?
European ballad opera (18th century)- "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay (1728)
What was different about "The Beggar's Opera"?
Took popular tunes and set new lyrics to them to set the needs of the play; took opera away from high art, enjoyable on a common level
What is an operetta?
- lush in story (has a storyline), opera-like qualities, tries to lift us up to a greater place (parents of the modern musical)
- 19th century
What is vaudeville?
- "voice of the city" (variety shows)
- provides something for everyone, a series of acts, instant pleasure, more oriented towards popular music
- comedy, dance, music
- also one of the parents of the modern musical
- 19th century
What is a musical revue?
- a theme is established
- no story or plotline in music
- theme is carried through acts but no story is carried through
- 20th century
What is a musical comedy?
- music is there to explore character
- music helps to explain the storyline
- music serves for a dramatic purpose (also for comedy)
- could take music out and not lose a whole lot
- 20th century
What is a musical play?
- attempt to make the song and dance more relevant to the story
- musical style is intimate
- tries to pass more seamlessly from talk to song and dance
- escalation of energy
- 20th century
What is a through-sung musical?
- all done through music and movement
- layering plot lines through different melodies
- everything is emotionally heightened
What was "Good News" (song - "He's a Ladies Man") an example of?
Musical comedy
What was "The Great Zigfell" (song - "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody") an example of?
Musical revue
What was "West Side Story" (song - "Tonight") an example of?
Musical play
What was "Les Miserables" (song - "One Day More!") an example of?
Through-sung musical
What was the first American musical?
"The Black Crook" (1866)

- originally just a melodrama, producers realized it was horrible and so they asked a Russian ballerina troupe to perform in it
- music was just there, did not really serve a purpose
- extremely successful (ran over 40 years)
What are other examples of musicals watched in class?
- "Me and My Gal"
- "Cats"
- "West Side Story" (song - "America")
- "The Wiz"
What is UNI-form?
Musical form where the elements are UNIFIED, NECESSARY, and INTEGRATED
What are the functions of song and dance in a muscial?
- define setting
- establish mood, tone, atmosphere
- propel plot
- identify characters and relationships
- embody themes
- bring inner life to the surface
- crystallize a moment or emotion
- mark significant points in action
- heighten and compress action
- effect transitions
- provide commentary or relief
- unify a work
What is a libretto/librettist?
- writes the dialogue (written words), structures where the music fits in
- means "little book"
What is a composer?
Writes the score (makes songs with notes)
What is a lyricist?
Puts words to the songs
What is a choreographer?
Helps to unify the characters, works with placements
What is the purpose of the song "Varsity Drag" in "Good News"?
- end of the play
- theme for entertainment and its own pleasurable value (no real dramatic value)
- scene kind of added b/c varsity drag was a popular dance at the time
What is the purpose of the song "Shall We Dance" in "The King and I"?
- carrying text and subtext of possible romantic relationship
- bridging cultural differences
- scene builds as the music builds (dramatic value)
What is the purpose of the song "Cool" in "West Side Story"?
- gave an outlet for anxiety and heightened emotion (through dance)
- helped distinguish characters by different choreography
What is the purpose of the song "Aquarius" in "Hair"?
- trying to est. hippie culture and distinguish it from contemporary culture
- expands vocabulary of what dance can include - very sensual in nature
- mocking of authority (dancing police horses)
What is the purpose of the song "You're the One That I Want" in "Grease"?
- conflict resolved through singing and dancing in harmony

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