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

both a form of silent acting that relies heavily on gesture, facial expression, and dance, and also, in England, beginning in the eighteenth century, a form of elaborate production, usually staged at Christmas, that includes ballet, music, and characters derived from the commedia dell'arte tradition.
literally, "digression" (Greek), in Old Comedy a section of a play in which the chorus introduces the major problem of the play and a line of action to solve it, or directly addresses the audience with an elaborate plea to win approval for the playwright.
at the start of Greek drama, the entrance of the chorus that provides exposition and sets the mood. The parados often follows the prologue and is one of several structural elements of Greek tragedy in the fifth century b.c.e. In Old Comedy , the parados sets the grounds for the agon or debate that follows.
an imitative form of comedy that spoofs or mimics the structure or content of another artistic work.
in seventeenth-century French theaters, the pit for standing spectators that was positioned directly in front of the raised proscenium stage.
a dramatic, musical, or artistic work that openly imitates or borrows from the style of another. Often, the work is intended to satirize or pay homage to its source of inspiration. Pastiche can also refer to a hodgepodge of elements drawn from different sources.
pastoral drama
a form of drama developed and popularized during the Italian Renaissance that sought to imitate the idyllic pastoral (rural) settings of Greek mythology. Perhaps influenced by the Greek satyr plays, pastoral dramas incorporate mythic elements in their depictions of the travails of young lovers, typically shepherds.
performance art
a form of individual or collective performance that began taking shape in the United States in the 1970s and '80s to explore abstract ideas through the instrument of the performer's body. Formal theatrical settings and accoutrements are discarded in favor of a focus on the body in its movement and form.
in a tragic plot, the moment in which the story's action undergoes a lasting reversal, or change in direction. Aristotle notes in the Poetics that the best reversals are those that transpire organically according to the logic of the action.
perspective scenery
a scenic convention first used in Italy at the beginning of the sixteenth century whereby the scenery on stage was painted and placed strategically to create the illusion of depth for the spectator. Generally, scenic wings were aligned at sharp angles on either side of the stage and a backdrop was draped at the rear of the stage. The floor of the stage was raked upward and the wings closest to the audience were elaborately decorated. The actors primarily performed downstage , so as not to disrupt the illusion.
pièce bien-fait
see well-made-play.
in medieval performance, a neutral acting area in the church where liturgical dramas were performed. Sedes (or " mansions ") were localized acting sites within this space.
an individual who writes plays for the theater. The first playwrights penned dramas for the Greek religious festival, the City Dionysia , and performed in their own works.
the arrangement of related incidents in a play. Plots may be simple or complex, and any single play may have more than one plot (and plays from experimental, avant-garde , or postmodern traditions may calculatedly eschew plot altogether). Among the key terms associated with plot, and useful in describing and analyzing any play's plot, are antagonist , conflict , climax , dénouement , falling action , motivation , point of attack , protagonist , resolution , and rising action . Plots typically begin with a triggering moment or point of attack that propels a character's motivations or needs into action. The hero or protagonist (not necessarily an individual) is prompted to make decisions that move the story forward. The conflict or antagonistic elements in a plot create obstacles and the negotiation of these obstacles becomes the rising incidents intended to create dramatic tension and keep the reader or spectator interested in the story's progression. The climax is the most suspenseful point in the plot and is reached when the conflict comes to a head, initiating the resolution or dénouement.
point of attack
the triggering event or defining conflict that propels the action of the play and pushes the plot into motion. ( See plot . )
poor theater
a term used to describe Polish director Jerzy Grotowski's (1933-1999) theoretical approach to creating theater. Grotowski's works were premised on the idea that theater should be stripped to its essence, focusing on the exchange of ideas from actor to audience. Without the use of traditional sets , sound effects, music, or costumes, Grotowski created highly theatrical and thought-provoking productions that relied primarily on the dedication and stamina of his ensemble of actors.
popular entertainment
a term used to describe any theatrical performance that attracts a large audience or has commercial appeal. Musical revues, pageants, and burlesque performances are modern forms of popular entertainment.
a critical standpoint or theoretical approach to examining literature, theater, and other art forms in the context of European colonialism and its aftermath. Postcolonial analysis examines relationships between native and colonial traditions; explores the influence of imperial ideologies, power structures, and discourses on contemporary perceptions and relations; and looks for new forms of identity and cultural resistance that arise in postcolonial societies. Postcolonial writers grapple with the fusion of native traditions and those of the colonial traditions in which many of them were educated. Playwrights wole soyinka (b. 1934), derek wolcott (b. 1930), and athol fugard (b. 1932) address postcolonial issues in their work.
a movement that emerged in the 1960s in reaction against many of the cultural and aesthetic assumptions of modernism. While modernists often sought a clear, cohesive artistic construction, for example, postmodern artists sought to embrace inconsistencies in style and to collapse literary boundaries. Pastiche is a predominant element in postmodern works of art.
prakarana play
a classical form of Indian theater that relies on invented stories and depicts less exalted characters than those in nataka plays. Like nataka plays, prakarana plays must be comprised of five to ten arikas , or acts, and follow a prescriptive set of rules regarding structure and staging. The theorist Bharata describes the elements of prakarana plays further in the Natyasastra , written sometime between 300 b.c.e. and 200 c.e.
as described in Bharata's Natyasastra , the area devoted to seating an audience in the interior of a rectangular sanskrit Playhouse.
presentational theater
a highly theatrical type of performance in which the performers are aware of the audience's presence. In presentational theater, the fourth wall can be broken and lines can be delivered directly to the spectators.
problem play
a late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century form of drama that addressed social issues. The early dramas of henrik ibsen and george bernard shaw are examples of problem plays.
in some plays, the opening scene in which information is revealed about events that occurred prior to the play's start. Historically, the prologue has also been used to praise the playwright or entreat the good will of the audience.
properties, props
any objects used on stage by actors, for example, a pair of scissors or a hairbrush. Items that are small enough to hold are often referred to as hand props . Pictures and decorative set items are also considered props. Costume pieces and items rooted to the set or playing space itself are not props.
proscenium arch
an arch over the front of a stage; thus, a proscenium theater is comprised of a raised stage framed by a proscenium arch with the audience seated facing the stage, observing the action as if through a picture frame. This kind of stage is characteristic of European theaters built from the late sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries (for example, the Teatro Farnese in Parma was completed in 1628).
the hero or central character in a play. Derived from the ancient Greek term protagonistes , meaning "leading actor." In traditional drama, the protagonist often engages in conflicts with an antagonist.
in a Roman theater, the raised stage in front of the scene building.