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

a rolling platform used in Greek performance to reveal the body of a character killed offstage.
Elizabethan drama
a work or body of works written in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603). Elizabethan plays often embody a sense of optimism and prosperity as England asserted itself as a European power. shakespeare wrote many of his plays during this period, which is why the Elizabethan age—and the age of her successor, James I (r. 1603–25), often referred to as the “Jacobean period”—is considered one of the greatest ages of dramatic innovation.
environmental theater
term coined by Richard Schechner (b. 1934) to describe a theatrical event in which the performance space is integral to the genesis of the performance and in a sense becomes a metaphor for the play itself. Also called “site-specific theater.” The environment or atmosphere created by the space, whether found or transformed, should not only offer context in terms of setting but contribute to the production as a whole. The focus of the performance is intended to be flexible, in that audience members can literally see the work from a variety of viewpoints and in many instances they can participate.
a long and involved narrative poem that depicts the adventures of a central figure of grand or heroic distinction. Typically, epics are split into episodes and chronicle a journey or plight of a hero. In ancient Greece, epic poems were often recited by rhapsodes (professional storytellers). Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are examples of epic poems.
Epic Theater
bertolt brecht’s model theater intended to serve as an alternative to Aristotelian theater with its emphasis on continuous plot and right construction. The Epic Theater addresses human reason rather than feeling, thus discouraging passivity, so that the spectator leaves the theater with a sense that the current social order is alterable and that action is necessary. Political change takes precedent over aesthetic wonder. The term estrangement effect (Verfremdungseffekt in German) refers to an important technique employed by Epic Theater practitioners because it places responsibility on the audience. Onstage events are performed in an unexpected manner, thereby provoking responses of surprise or curiosity on the audience’s part and prompting a desire to elicit change.
a sequence of episodes in a Greek tragedy in which the characters drive the action through interaction with the chorus and one another.
a concluding address by an actor or group of actors that is directed toward the audience; also an additional scene, following the resolution of a play, intended to comment on the preceding events and offer a final perspective by the author or actors.
episodic plot
a plot that has one or more of the following characteristics: scenes or episodes that are organized in nonsequential order; shifts in time, location, or setting; or subplots that incorporate more than one set of characters. Plays with multiple characters and subplots are often episodic because the structure allows the focus to shift from one narrative to another. shakespeare’s plays generally incorporate episodic plots.
a literary composition in the form of a letter. ben jonson included an epistle in the printed version of his play volpone.
estrangement effect
A phrase translated from the German word, Verfremdungseffekt (sometimes also translated as “alienation effect”), referring to an important tenet of bertolt brecht’s Epic Theater that asks the audience to examine familiar, everyday events from a critical distance as if they were strange. Brecht describes his theories of estrangement as a rebuttal to the popular Aristotelian perspective that an audience derives pleasure from an empathic connection to the events performed on stage. Instead, he suggests that, in performance, an actor can alter his or her technique to illustrate ideas of broader historical or social proportions. The actor’s self-awareness and awareness of the performative nature of storytelling distances the spectator from an immediate emotional response that, in turn, disrupts identification with the character and elicits instead a reaction of surprise or curiosity from an otherwise ordinary or contrived situation.
the concluding scene in a Greek tragedy where all of the characters and chorus members exit the stage.
information, often delivered near the beginning of a play, that reveals something essential for the audience’s understanding of the world of the play or the story’s given circumstances, as well as the basic relationships between characters or events that have taken place offstage. Exposition can provide pertinent information for all of the characters in the drama but can also be limited to a few. Sometimes the audience or reader will be given information unknown to the characters on stage (see dramatic irony).
a literary and theatrical movement that originated in Europe just before the twentieth century but flourished from 1910–25. Spurred by the overwhelming social and political upheaval of World War I, expressionist dramatists strove to emphasize the moral crisis of the modern, industrial world dominated by machines and masses of people. In expressionist plays the characters are often nameless and defined solely by their occupations. Other stylistic elements include the use of primal gesture (exaggerated emotive movement), punctuated dialogue (language that emphasizes various words or expressions), and theatrical design that includes exaggerated or distorted images. Playwrights and directors demonstrate the mood of an expressionist drama by staging the play so that it reflects the emotional perspective of the protagonist or hero. Major expressionist playwrights include Ernst Toller (1893–1939) and Georg Kaiser (1878–1945). bertolt brecht, august strindberg, susaN glaspell, and eugene o’neill all experimented with expressionism during their careers as playwrights.