THE TOOLS OF DRAMAThe features of a dramatic text
A play consists of a number of acts divided into scenes. All Shakespearian plays, for example, are made up of five acts:
Act 1: introduction;
Act 2: development;
Act 3: crisis or turning point;
Act 4: complications;
Act 5: denouément, that is the resolving of all difficulties.
Tragedies are generally introduced by a prologue spoken by the chorus; it provides invormation about the main charater or the subject of the play. Often an epilogue follows the play in order to request applause. It is usually played bya central character, as opposed to the classical epilogue, usually acted by an anonymous character or a mask.
Place and time can be inferred both from the dialogue and the stage directions.
* Dialogue is the main support of drama since:
- it creates the actions
- it provides details about the characters and their relationship
- it shows what a character thinks about another
- It gives information about the past and can foreshadow subsequent events.
*Soliloquy and monologue are special conventions: whereas in the former the character is alone on the stage, in the latter there are other characters but the speaker ignores them. These devices enable the playwright to let the audience know the character's:
- thoughts about a specific problem
- plans for the future
- feelings and reactions
- explanation of what happens between scenes
*Asides are short comments made by a character for the audience alone, usually occurring in or between speeches.
Their purpose can be:
- to reveal the nature of the speaker
- to graw the attention of the audience to the importance of what has been said or to explain developments
- to create humour by introducing the unexpected
*Stage directions are open interventions of the playwright to provide information that cannot be conveyed through the dialogue.
The number of characters, which in the past were called Dramàtis Personae, may vary but always includes:
- a hero
- a heroine
- in the tragedies, a villan who does all shorts of evil actions
Characters can be divided into main or minor according to how important they are for the story.
-Analysisof a characters-
When analysing a character we should take into consideration
» how the character is presented:
- Through dialogue
- Through soliloquies
- Through asides
- Through stage directions
» his/her development throughout the play:
- how does he/she change, why and when
- his/her motivation to avtion
- his/her relationship with other character