An ancient guide to “Tragedy” still used today.. Ancient Greek philosopher. Lived from 384-322 B.C.E. Student of Plato Teacher of Alexander the Great.

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Slide 1 An ancient guide to Tragedy still used today. Slide 2 Ancient Greek philosopher. Lived from 384-322 B.C.E. Student of Plato Teacher of Alexander the Great Studied and wrote about many topics including logic, biology, ethics, psychology, politics and DRAMA. Wrote a treatise on Theatre (drama) called the Poetics. This work consisted of two portions: One concerning Tragedy One concerning Comedy Only the half regarding Tragedy survives. This work is still referenced today in relation to both Tragedy and Comedy. Slide 3 Aristotles breakdown of the 6 elements of Tragedy (Drama). Was written at least 50 years after the death of Sophocles. Aristotle was a great admirer of Sophocles Oedipus the King and regarded it as the perfect Tragedy. The Poetics applies perfectly to Oedipus the King but also applies to all Play scripts even today. Although the remaining text of the Poetics was written to describe Tragedy it is applicable to all theatrical text. Slide 4 Plot What happens in a play. Character The personalities represented. Theme The idea(s) conveyed by the play. Language The words chosen by the playwright and the way they are delivered by the actor. Music Can mean both the rhythm or musical quality of the spoken words or in more modern context the actual music used to enhance the play. Spectacle All the visual elements used in a theatrical work. Sets, costumes, make up, props etc. Slide 5 The first four of Aristotles Poetics are not unique to Theatre. They are present in all kinds of literature. Theatre is meant to be seen not read. Although you can certainly enjoy reading a play its true power is achieved from a fully realized production. Technical elements enhance the piece. Stage Directions are the side notes that appear in a script. They are not meant to be read aloud to an audience but instead are physically represented. These more often than not help to propel the plot or heighten the theme. A great deal can (and is) left up to interpretation. Slide 6 Aristotle considered plot the soul of a tragedy. The story must contain a beginning, middle and end. Background information such as setting (time and place) and an introduction to characters (names) is called Exposition. Exposition may also appear elsewhere throughout the play. It is background information that has relevance to the story. The Inciting Action is the event that sets the course of events into motion. Cause and Effect: Each part of the story must come as a result of those that came before. There should be a unity of action: It is not enough for the course of events to be episodic (tied together only by the fact that they happen to the same person). For a good (strong) plot each event must be connected to those that happened before it. Slide 7 Coincidental or irrational events should not be included, but if necessary should have the air of design some fated connection to the events of the play. The plot should be of a certain magnitude. It should not be too brief (the more elements and themes the playwright can bring together in an organic unity the greater the artistic value and richness of the play.) The more universal and significant the meaning of the play, the more the playwright can capture and hold the emotions of the audience, the better the play will be. Slide 8 The events following the cause and effect chain after the inciting action are called the Rising Action. The rising action is the result of some sort of Conflict. Conflict can be: Person vs. Person one character is at odds with another. Person vs. Society a character has a problem with society. Person vs. Him/Herself a character struggles with what to do. Person vs. Nature- a characters has some problem with an element of nature. (i.e. a snowstorm, a hurricane) Person vs. Fate a character has to battle what seems an uncontrollable problem. Slide 9 The Climax is the high point of the story. It is the culmination of events that creates the peak of the conflict. The climax features the highest point of conflict or struggle. It is not always the most important scene in a story. An Anti-Climax may occur, which is when an expectedly difficult event is revealed to be incredibly easy or of minor importance. The climax must be the result of the events that came before and the cause of those that follow. Slide 10 The Falling Action comes after and shows the effects of the climax on the characters, settings and previous events. The Denouement (dey-noo-mehn) or resolution is the completion of the story. It serves as a return to the normal for the characters and as catharsis, or a release of tension or anxiety, for the audience. Not all works have falling action or a denouement. Some works simply end at the climax. Slide 11 Slide 12 Characters should support the plot. Personalities should be interwoven into the cause and effect chain. The protagonist should be renowned and prosperous- so that their reversal of fortune can go from good to bad, thus creating a sense of pity and fear in the audience. (By this rule a Tragedy must be about a well to do person such as a king or prince etc.) In the ideal Tragedy the protagonist will unwittingly bring about their own undoing. (Tragic Flaw, or Miscalculation) Their intent is usually the opposite which creates what is called Tragic Irony. Slide 13 Characters should have the following qualities: Good or Fine morally virtuous. Fitness of Character true to type. A soldier is valiant, a young person can not be wise. True to Life realistic. Consistent True to themselves. Once character traits are established they should continue throughout. Necessary or Probable- Flaw must be a human weakness, not a random or arbitrary characteristic. True to Life and yet more beautiful idealized. Slide 14 Protagonist Main character. The events of the plot revolve around this character and the audience is intended to feel the most empathy towards. The protagonist is not always a good guy. Antagonist The main opposition for the Protagonist. Hero virtuous or good and Villain- bad Foil side kick. Puts other character into sharper focus. Differing ideology and/or appearance. Don Quixote/Sancho, Batman/Robin Anti-Hero Moral standards hazy. Not purely good or evil. Punisher, Catwoman (in more modern incarnations) Different from Unlikely hero who is an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Slide 15 Archetypes or Stock Characters: Generic version of a personality. There is a vast list of archetypical or stock characters: Dumb Blonde Wise Old Man Arrogant Jock Faded Beauty Unlikely Hero Damsel in Distress Brainy Girl Mischeivious Boy Flat Character Only has 1 or 2 characteristics. Easily summarized. Round Character More detailed. More difficult to summarize. Fleshed Out. Often display the inconsistencies and internal struggles of real people.


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