Drama as a Genre

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I. Nature of Drama

Drama is a story of a conflict told entirely in story and action. Drama is written with the intention of its eventual performance before an audience. Therefore drama has a dual nature, that of literature and that of a theater. When one reads drama , he can imagine it in performance in the theater of the mind.

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II. Performance Spaces

A suitable site has to be provided for performances. A clear division is usually made between the acting area and the auditorium. This was the beginning of the performance space in the auditorium.

a. Arena – the actors are in the middle of the audience who are generally raised up to look down on the acting area whose shape is also circular or square, though other shapes are also possible

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b. Open. The audience are on three sides of the acting area which usually backs up against a wall from which there are entries.


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c. End
The audience all face one way looking at the acting area which is generally raised (though it can be flat if the seating is raised considerably.


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d. Proscenium – like a picture frame around. This method of staging was much common in the last century, though it is slowly dying out. Many schools planned theaters this way. Considerable lighting effects are possible with the proper resources.


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Stage Acting Areas

It is in reference to the latter three types of staging which are baked by a wall, that the following acting areas are designated particularly for the convenience of actor. The horizontal area nearest the wall is called UPSTAGE (U). The one near the audience is DOWNSTAGE (D). The middle part is the CENTER (C). The directions are left (L) and right (R) relative to the actor on stage who faces the audience.
Hence, the areas are Downstage Right (DR), Upstage Right (UR), Right Center stage (RC), Upstage Left (UL), Downstage Left (DL) and Left Center stage (LC).


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Elements of Drama
To appreciate drama, one needs to understand the elements that make up the genre. These are:
a. Setting – It is when and where the action happens.
b. Characters –the people in the play A picture of each character is created in the imagination – one arising from the ff. aspects;
1. Physical- concerned with basic facts as gender, age, size, and color.It also entails appearance.
2. Social- the character’s economic status, profession or trade, religion and family relationship. All factors that gleaned from her environment.
3. Psychological – this reveal’s character’s habitual responses, attitudes, desires, motivation, likes and dislikes.-or inner workings of the mind.
4. Moral- this maybe seen in very serious plays, esp. tragedies, in which characters make moral decisions revealing their motives, thus projecting goodness and badness.
c. Plot – the arrangement of series of events that make up the story in the play.
1. Organic – it consists of scenes which are arranged accdg. To chronological sequence.
2. Episodic – It consists of a series of episodes where the theme develops and characters interact unitedly as the theme progresses.
3. Theme – the overall meaning or significance of the action. It unifies the drama around a central idea, motif or concept.
4. Style –refers to the playwright’s standpoint or outlook in life. There are two major dramatic attitudes, realism and non realism.
*realism– is life like. Things are presented as real as can be set in real life places, with dialogues sounding as everyday conversations.
*Non-realism – is the stylized theatricalized method of presentation whereby an artist make use of his wildest imagination in projecting his ideas, such as scenes that are fantastic and set in far away places and times, or those covering long periods of time.

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Types of Drama
a. Tragedy – a serious look in life wherein the hero sets to do something basically good but fails catastrophically in the end though he has put up a valiant fight.
b. Comedy- a play that evokes laughter.
c. Melodrama – is derived from tragedy but it is rather exaggerated and concentrates on action. It may also be called Tragicomedy; Melodrama deals with serious action, but seriousness that is only temporary and usually suitable to the malicious designs of an unsympathetic character, A happy resolution is achieved by neutralizing or destroying the power of the villain.
d. Farce – tries to create laughter for the sake of laughter, usually making use of exaggerated incidents and character.

Sources: Theaters Trust