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DRAMA is a form of literature that tells a story through the words and actions of the characters.

A drama, also called a play, usually is meant to be performed by actors and actresses in front of an audience.

Brecht (1964:15) says that proper plays can only be understood when performed. Stanislavski asserts that it is only on stage that drama can be revealed in all its fullness and significance.

To reveal its fullness and significance as a literary form, it is designed for the theatre with characters assigned roles which they act out in actions enacted on stage.
drama is an adaptation, a recreation and reflection of reality on stage enactment through the ability to create alternative modes of being to that of our existence in measurable flesh and blood (Brian Wilks).

PLOT - is the sequential arrangement of events in a play. It is said to be linear when there is a kind of chronological or sequential events in the play. On the other hand, we may have a play in which time order is dislocated. This happens, for example, when we have flashbacks.

Like the plot of a story, the plot of a play involves characters who face a problem or conflict. Climax point of highest tension; action determines how the conflict will be resolved

Complications build tension

Exposition characters and conflict are introduced

Resolution conflict is resolved; play ends

THEME - is the message of the play or what the play is all about. It is possible to have a theme and, or, multiple themes in one play. Example: Ola Rotimis The Gods Are Not To Blame the theme is predestination.

CONFLICT - is the bone of contention between the protagonist and the antagonist. - There is a conflict when two forces pull the opposite ways. - Conflict can be interpersonal or intrapersonal. Actions are generated through conflict.


- the agents responsible for actions and conflicts in plays are known as characters. - It is the formation of the characters by a playwright that is known as characterization. - It should be noted that the characters can be human agents as in most plays and they can be animal agents.

DIALOGUE - A play exists in dialogues. Therefore, one prominent feature of the language of drama is dialogue/conversation. - When they are engaged in dialogues/conversations, characters use language that reveals their status, background, motivations, and so on.

- the language of drama is the exchange means or communicative method adopted in the play.

- Azeez (2001) identifies three types of language in drama:

verbal (spoken) gestural (paralinguistic like nodding, eyeing etc); and symbolic (semiotic)

- Language gives expression to other elements of drama. The language of drama may be poetic or prosaic.

- may be divided into three:

Time - relates to when the action takes place. Place - indicates the location of the action in terms of physical space. Atmosphere - describes the socio-psychological mood of the play.

TRAGEDY is primarily a form of drama that ends in sadness. This is because the tragic hero has a downfall in which some lesson is learnt by the audience; but he, himself, falls as a result of the hubris or his weak point.

COMEDY is a form of drama that typically ends in happiness. It is replete with satire and folly.

A comedy is a form of drama that typically ends in happiness. It is replete with satire and folly. The plot usually centers on a romantic conflict.
boy meets girl boy loses girl boy wins girl

TRAGICOMEDY blends both tragic and comic elements in that though the play has a tragic tone it ends happily.

MELODRAMA is a play heightened by suspense and romantic sentiments.

CAST: It is a list of actors and actresses given defined roles in a drama by the playwright or director. PROTAGONIST: A character who plays the most prominent role in a play. A protagonist is also often referred to as the hero (man) or heroine (woman) or the chief character.
ANTAGONIST: He/she is a character in a play who opposes the protagonist rightly or wrongly. Often he/she contradicts the protagonist.

PLAYWRIGHT: A playwright is the writer of a piece of drama or play. CATHARSIS: This means purgation (from purging, the original Greek word). It is the feeling by an audience of a sense of release or the cleansing of the mind of excess emotion, often through the shedding of tears as when a great tragedy is being played out on stage. TRAGIC FLAW: It is a costly mistake made by the protagonist in a play or drama. It could also mean an inbuilt or inherited weakness (flaw), say pride (hubris), which aids the downfall of the protagonist.

DRAMATIC IRONY: It is a situation in a drama in which a character, out of ignorance, says or does something which runs counter to the course of action whose real outcome is known to the audience, but is hidden from the character in question. SUSPENSE: It is the state of anxiety and expectation in the reader/audience of a play as to the likely outcome of events. It raises a readers interest and keeps him/her guessing as to what will happen next.

SOLILOQUY: It is a device in drama which allows a character to engage in a loud selftalk which enables the reader/audience to have access to what is in his/her mind.

PROLOGUE: It is the formal introduction to a play written in prose or verse whose content is relevant to the unfolding events in the play. EPILOGUE: It is the closing comment in a play which justifies an earlier course of action or fills an untreated gap. CHORUS: It is a couple or a band of people in a play who takes it upon themselves as a group to comment on the proceedings of dramatic actions. The group sheds light on the unfolding events and prepares the audience for what is to follow.

DIRECTOR: The theatre artist who directs the speech, movement and actins of the actors and actresses in the interpretation of the different characters in the play is called a director.
PRODUCER: In stage drama, this refers to the person or organization who brings the performance about and also funds it. PROMPTER: During a performance, the prompter is the person who stays out of sight to remind an actor or actress of lines which escape his or her memory, to ensure the continuity of actions.

FLASHBACK: This is literary technique involving the recalling of an earlier scene, action, or event which sheds further light on what is currently happening. Wole Soyinka is fond of using this device.
INTERLUDE: A brief performance which serves as an interval to a main performance. AUDITION: The process by which actors and actresses are chosen for specific roles in a performance. This partly involves the reading of lines from the play to the hearing of the director.

(1) Turn quantity and length How much a character talks can be indicative either of their relative importance in the play, or of how important they appear to think they are. - Generally, central characters have longer and more speeches than minor characters.

(2) Exchange sequence - Attempts have been made to catalogue many of the patterns of exchanges which are considered appropriate by speakers of English.

- (e. g. the two-part exchanges such as greeting-greeting, question-answer, requestresponse and invitation-acceptance/ refusal), but as there is so much scope for variation in context this is really a fruitless task.
- However, the model of exchange structure can be useful when analyzing a dramatic dialogue which doesn't seem to conform to the expected pattern of exchange.

Extract from A NIGHT OUT

(His hand screws the cigarette. He lets it fall on the carpet.) GIRL (outraged): What do you think youre doing? (She stares at him.) Pick it up! Pick that up, I tell you! Its my carpet! (She lunged towards it.)Its not my carpet; theyll make me pay (His hand closes upon hers as she reaches for it. GIRL: What are you doing? Let go. Treating my place like a pigsty... Let me go. Youre burning my carpet! ALBERT (quietly, intensely): Sit down. GIRL: How dare you? ALBERT: Shut up. Sit down. GIRL: What are you doing?

ALBERT: Dont scream. I'm wanting you....

GIRL: What are you going to do? ALBERT: (seizing the clock from the mantelpiece): DON T MUCK ME ABOUT!

(3) Production errors Sometimes a writer will deliberately use forms such as hesitation to convey something about the character-that they are distracted, for example, or uncertain or shy, or confused, embarrassed.

In this example from Professional Foul, the character Anderson meets one of his footballing heroes and offers advice on the opposition in a forthcoming match, a situation in which he demonstrates signs of embarrassment shown in bold:

ANDERSON: I ve seen him twice. In the UFA Cup a few seasons ago... I happened to be in Berlin for the Heel Colloquium, er, bunfight ... (in a rush) I realize it s none of my businessI mean you may think I m an absolute ass, but-(pause) Look, if Hahas takes that corner he s going to make it shortalmost certainly-...

(4) The cooperative principle The philosopher Grice (1975) developed the theory of a cooperative principle, which he asserted people used to make sense of their conversations by enabling them to distinguish between sentence-meaning and utterance meaning.

GIRL: And what film are you making at the moment?

ALBERT: I m on holiday. GIRL: Where do you work? ALBERT: I m freelance.
Im on holiday being understood to mean I m not making a film at the moment because Im on holiday, I dont have one single place I can identify, because being freelance; I work all over the place.

(5) Status marked through language - Many of the properties of language discussed above can be used to signal the relative status, and changes in status, of characters.

(6) Register - is the term used in linguistics to describe the relationship between a particular style of language and its context of use. As language users, we can recognize a wide range of styles even though we might not be able to actively produce them.

(7) Speech and silence-female characters in plays - There is evidence that men tend to talk more than women in mixed sex conversations (Spender, 1990). It is suggested that the reason why it is accepted that women are the talkative sex is that the amount they talk is net compared with the amount that men talk, but with silence. In fact silence is the preferred state for women in a patriarchal society.

What is distinctive about plays?

drama is not made of words alone, but of sights and sounds, stillness and motion, noise and silence, relationships and responses.
(J.L.Sryan, 1975, Drama, Stage and Audience)

Drama brings life experiences realistically to the audience.

It is the most concrete of all genres of literature.

Drama brings us to the issue of mimesis or imitation.

It does not allow audience to visualize the story with your imagination.

Essentially, drama is distinct from other genres because it is performed in front of an audience by actors to tell a story, along with the use of a set, lighting, music, and costumes.