Interactive flashcards help students review their knowledge of approximately 200 terms.

wagons used as stages for auto sacramentales,performances that celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi in Spain.
the process of deciding which actors are to play which parts.  Casting is an important factor in the establishment of character on stage.
catharsis (katharis)
the emotional release or sense of relief a spectator may feel at the end of a tragedy. In the Poetics, Aristotle posits that the proper aim of tragedy is to arouse feelings of pity and fear and effectively rid the body of these feelings. Katharsis is the term he uses to describe this purging of emotions.
a player or personality integral to the telling of a story. In drama, actors must demonstrate character through mimesis or imitation rather than narration. (See stock character.)
in fifth-century Greek theater practice, the producer appointed to a playwright by an archon (government leader) who underwrote the cost of training and costuming the chorus and musicians.
in Greek drama, a group of singers and dancers who often provide exposition and commentary on the action in the play.
City Dionysia
One of the four civic festivals held in ancient Greece each year in honor of the god Dionysus that are chiefly associated with the presentation of theatrical work. In the fifth century b.c.e., the festival incorporated tragedies, satyr plays, dithyrambic contests, choruses, and later in the century, comedies. Playwrights competed in the City Dionysia for prestige and prizes awarded by the state.
classical unities
see unities.
in the language of traditional dramatic theory, the point in a drama’s plot that  is preceded by the rising action and followed by the falling action. It is sometimes also the moment of greatest crisis for the protagonist and/or other characters. (See plot.)
closet dramas
plays initially meant to be performed or recited at small gatherings or read in private. During the first century b.c.e., when the Roman public lost interest in traditional comedies and tragedies, many dramatists, including seneca, were forced to abandon staged drama and instead wrote closet dramas for recitation at public banquets and other social events. goethe’s faust and büchner’s woyzeck are later examples of closet dramas.
comedia nueva
literally, “new drama” (Spanish). The most popular dramatic form written during the Golden Age of Spain. In structure, the plays were comprised of three acts in varying verse form that mixed both tragic and comic elements. Plots were drawn from history, mythology, legend, Italian novelle and other literary sources, the Bible, popular ballads, and the everyday life of country and town. Specialized subgenres included: the comedias de capa y espada (“cape and sword plays”), which featured stories of romance and intrigue, and comedias de costumbres (“comedies of manners”). lope de vega carpio is one of the primary contributers to this form.
Comedie Française
the world’s first national theater, established by the French monarchy. Formed by the merger of Paris’s two acting companies, the company began performing in 1680 and became a dominant presence in the French theatrical industry.
from the Greek word komos meaning “band of revelers,” comedy is a form of drama that is distinguished by humorous content and endings that are, on balance, “happy” ones. The first comic performances were entertainments associated with Greek fertility rights that later took the form of satyr plays. Traditional comedic structure and form can be attributed to the work of aristophanes,who incorporated bawdy jokes and songs into far-fetched scenarios with fantastical or farcical situations. The conventions of comedy vary from place to place and from one era to another, depending on the sense of humor or sensibility of the age in which it is written. Some comedies rely heavily on sharp, witty dialogue (sheridan’s school for scandal, for example), others on bodily humor and physical clowning (atellan farce or commedia dell’arte), and still others on a blending of these conventions (shakespeare’s comedies). No matter what theatrical conventions they employ, most comedies attempt to highlight absurdities of their society’s norms and values.
commedia dell’arte
literally “comedy of professional players” (Italian).  A genre of Italian theater that emerged at the end of the sixteenth century. Performance relied on the portrayal of stock characters—some of which were derived from Roman comic types—and the improvisation of action and dialogue from a basic plot outline. There are two categories of commedia characters: unmasked and masked. The unmasked roles include the young lovers (the young man described as the innamorato and the young woman described as the innamorata). The many masked roles can usually be divided into masters and servants. The masters include: the Capitano, a braggart soldier whose romantic and military exploits are often discredited, Pantalone, a middle-aged or elderly merchant fond of courting young women, and Dottore, a pedantic show-off who often played Pantalone’s friend or rival. The servant characters are typically described as zanni. The most popular include: Arlecchino or Harlequin, Brighella, and Pulcinello.
comedy of character
a form of Italian comedy, conceived by carlo goldoni in the eighteenth century, that contradicted the popular conventions of commedia dell’arte and sought to embrace a more literary drama. Goldoni’s comedies of character often revolve around a single protagonist and are noted for their realistic dialogue, plausible plots, and moralistic tone.
comedy of manners
a form of comedy that satirizes the foibles of the upper class and aristocracy by means of witty dialogue and the ridicule of social decorum. The form originated in the seventeenth century in works by molière and arrived in England during the Restoration in the works of william wycherley, William Congreve (1670–1729), and others. In the late nineteenth century the form once again gained popularity in such comedies as oscar wilde’s the importance of being earnest.
the central problem in the plot, the obstacle hindering a character from getting what he or she wants. Often, the diverging interests of the protagonist and antagonist create conflict.
the circumstantial or dramatic situation given to characters in a play by the playwright that can (and often does) affect the development and outcome of the drama and the decisions made by the characters.
the public theaters of Spain’s Golden Age, similar to the open-air theaters of Elizabethan England. Corrales were constructed within square or rectangular courtyards. A raised stage with a permanent backdrop and upper levels was placed on one end of the courtyard with an open space, or patio, for standing spectators directly in front of it. On either side of the patio a section of ascending rows of seats known as the gradas extended to the second story. Above the alojería (or refreshment booth) at the end of the courtyard facing the stage, galleries accommodated additional spectators. Windows of buildings above the gradas served as box seats (aposentos), and additional levels of boxed seats or open galleries were available at the third- and fourth-floor levels.
Corpus Christi
a monthlong festival conceived by Pope Urban IV in 1264 to celebrate the redemptive power of the Holy Eucharist. The Corpus Christi cycle play was commissioned as a theatrical tribute to the events preceding Christ’s birth as well as his life and resurrection. The church worked with secular groups in the presentation of the drama. The Latin of liturgical drama was abandoned in favor of vernacular dialogue that was spoken rather than chanted and thus could be readily understood by the audience.
see climax.
Cruelty, Theater of
term introduced in 1932 by French theorist and playwright Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) to describe his vision of theater that sought to unleash the desires of the soul and thereby to repudiate the conventionalized lifelessness of Western art and society. His purpose was to shock his audiences into recognition and to appeal to their primitive impulses.
term used to characterize a married man whose wife has been unfaithful to him. A cuckold is often portrayed as wearing horns as an attribute of his condition.
cycle plays
also called mystery cycles, a form of medieval drama that coincided with the feast of corpus Christi, a lengthy celebration intended to honor the redemptive power of Christ. Cycle plays were performed in the vernacular and composed of short plays presented throughout a day (or over the course of several days) that chronicled the religious history of humanity from the Creation through the Last Judgment. Most Corpus Christi plays were performed outdoors by secular groups sponsored by the guilds of varying professions. the second shepherds’ play is an example of a cycle play.
cyclic plot
a plot in which the play ends in much the same way it began, rendering the action of the play futile for the characters involved. samuel beckett’s Waiting for Godot has a cyclic plot.