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53 Cards in this Set

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Conventions
Customary methods of presenting an action, usual and recognizable devices that an audience is willing to accept.
Chorus
Group of citizens who stand to the side of the action conversing with the principal character and commenting.
Soliloquy
A monologue in which we seem to overhear the character's inmost thoughts uttered aloud.
Aside
A character addresses the audience directly, unheard by the other characters on stage.
Theme
The general point of truth about human beings that may be drawn to it.
Conflict
The central struggle between two or more forces in a play.
Plot
Whatever happens in a story, but more exactly referring to the unique arrangement of events that the author has made.
Subplot
Also called a double plot. A secondary arrangement of incidents, involving someone less important than the protagonist.
Protagonist
A leading character. A word we usually save for the primary figure.
Exposition
The part in which we first meet the characters, learn what happened before the curtain rose, and find out what is happening now.
Foreshadowing
A hint of what is to come.
Dramatic question
A problem to be solved, an uncertainty to be cleared up.
Climax
A moment, usually coming late a play, when tension reaches its greatest height. At such a moment, we sense that the play's dramatic question is about to be answered.
Crisis
A moment of tension when one or another outcome is possible. The last and most decisive is the climax.
Resolution
Conclusion or denouement. When the knot is untied and everything is resolved.
Suspense
Enjoyable anxiety.
Stage business
Any nonverbal action that engages the attention of an audience.
Rising action
The part of the narrative (including the exposition) in which events start moving toward a climax.
Falling action
After the climax, when the story begins to taper off. Resolution.
What a good play should contain
Unity of action, time, place
Symbols
Things that hint at larger meanings.
Realism
The attempt to reproduce faithfully the surface appearance of life, especially that of ordinary people in everyday situations.
Henrik Isben
Norwegian playwright who wrote a series of prose dramas in which realistically portrayed middle-class characters who face problems in their lives and relationships. Often called "problem plays" because of their engagement of issues that are hidden or repressed because of society's expectations.
Anton Chekhov
Russian dramatist who used theater to present the real lives of real people even further. His dialogue may wander and there may not be a real plot, just like real life.
Picture-frame stage
A structure that holds the action within a proscenium arch, a gateway standing in front of the scenery. This set-up divided the actors from the audience.
Box set
In the theater of realism, this represented a room, three walls that joined in two corners and a ceiling that tilted as if seen in perspective.
Naturalism
A kind of realism in fiction and drama dealing with the more brutal or unpleasant aspects of reality. Viewed a person as a creature whose acts are determined by heredity and environment.
Symbolism
Involved new areas of artistic exploration and began in the French theater. Ex. the conjuring of a spirit world we cannot directly perceive.
Expressionism
Delighting in bizarre sets and exaggerated make-up and costuming. Sought to reflect intense states of emotion and sometimes depict the world thru lunatic eyes.
Tragicomedies
Plays that stir us not only to pity and fear but also to laugh.
Comic relief
Passages of clownish humor, meaning the section of comedy introduces a sharp and contrast in mood; it makes the surrounding tragedy seem more intense.
Antiheroes
Ordinary people, inglorious and inarticulate, who carry on not from bravery but from inertia.
Theater of the absurd
Portrays people whose suffering seems ridiculous. Nothing can be taken seriously, not entirely lightly. There is a philosophical fear that human existence has no meaning. Every person is a helpless waif alone in a universe full of ridiculous obstacles. A fav theme is that communication between people is impossible.
Tragedy
A play that portrays a serious conflict between human beings and some superior, overwhelming force. It ends sorrowfully and disastrously and the outcome seems inevitable.
Tragic flaw
The protagonist's reversal of fortune that is brought about through some error or weakness on his part.
Satiric comedy
Derisive humor in which human weakness or folly is ridiculed from a vantage point of supposedly enlightened superiority. Tends to be critical of people, their manners, and their morals.
High comedy
Relies more on wit and wordplay than on physical action for its humor, pointing out the hypocrisy and pretension of human behavior.
Epigram
A brief and witty statement that memorably expresses some truth, large or small.
Low comedy
Places greater emphasis on physical action and visual gags and its verbal jokes do not require much intellect to appreciate. Ex. drunkenness, stupidity, lust, trickery, insult, and clumsiness.
Burlesque
A type of low comedy. Broadly humorous parody or travesty of another play or kind of play.
Farce
Low comedy. Broadly humorous play who action is usually fast-moving and improbable.
Slapstick comedy
Low comedy, a kind of farce. Pratfalls, pie-throwing, fighting, and other violent action.
Romantic comedy
Main characters are usually lovers. Funny things happen along their road to being together. Often suffer humiliation and discomfort along the way, more funny than sad, but they are ultimately rewarded for their efforts.
Staging
Open hillside amphitheater that could seat up to 17,000 spectators. Seating was hierarchal. The orchestra section of the stage was used for dancing while the skene was raised and supported the main action. The actors wore large masks and thick-soled shoes so the people farther away could understand who was doing what.
Dramatic structure
The opening scene is the prologue. The parodos is the song for the entering of the chorus. Acts of the play separated by dance are the episodes. The exodus is the last scene. There were usually only three actors on the stage at once. Chorus~15 people.
The civic role of Greek drama
Athenian drama was financed by the state and the tickets were free. There were yearly contests for playwrights in which they could win cash prizes and praise from the community.
Tragedy and empathy in Greek theater
Enabled its audience to reflect on personal values that might be in conflict with civic ideals, on the claims of minorities that it neglected or excluded from public life, on its own irrational prejudices toward the foreign or unknown. Challenged its audience to feel sympathy. The release of powerful emotions of pity of fear accounts for the paradox of tragic drama-how a viewer takes aesthetic pleasure in witnessing the suffering of others.
Tragic hero
Must be a likable, popular figure that also possesses some tragic flaw or weakness of character.
Katharsis
The feeling of emotional release or calm the spectator feels at the end of tragedy. Aristotle implied that after watching tragedy we feel better, not worse. We take a kind of pleasure in the spectacle of a noble man being brought down.
Recognition
The revelation of some fact not known before or some person's true identity. Modern critics have taken the term to mean the terrible enlightenment that accompanies such a recognition with the protagonist's consequent awareness of his role in his own undoing.
Reversal
The action that turns out to have the opposite effect from the one its doer had intended. Aristotle's word for this was peripety. His theory was that a tragedy makes us feel better about ourselves.
Sophocles
Dramatist, priest, and general. One of three ancient Greek writers of tragedy whose work has survived. He won his first out of 24 victories in play writing but he wrote more than 120 plays.
Oedipus the King
The play was presented in Thebes during a terrible plague. Oedipus is a folktale figure. Part of his name, "Oida" means "to know" or "see" which indicates the play's theme of sight and blindness, wisdom and ignorance. Oedipus also means "swollen foot" or "club foot." Oedipus won the throne by solving the riddle of and riddling the city of the Sphinx.