Tag Archives: drama

Aside

“Aside (noun):  An utterance in theatrical dialogue directed to the audience, but supposedly not heard by other actors in their roles; words spoken in low tones or confidentially; passing, private, or covert comment; personal digression.

‘Mr. Wilson somehow packs his play with comic asides that cover phenomena as varied as Eskimos, U.F.O.s, Betty Grable, botany, Columbia Records, and Karl Marx.’ Frank Rich, The New York Times”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Theme

“Theme: Properly speaking, the theme of a work is not its subject but rather its central idea which may be stated directly or indirectly. For example, the theme of Othello is jealousy. See LEITMOTIF; MOTIF.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Book of Answers: The Abbey Theater

“When did the Abbey Theater open?  The Dublin theater dedicated to presenting Irish drama opened in 1904. Its directors included William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory. Destroyed by fire in 1951, the theater reopened in 1966.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Motif

“Motif: One of the dominant ideas in a work of literature; a part of the main theme. It may consist of a character, a recurrent image, or a verbal pattern.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Protagonist

“Protagonist: (Greek ‘first combatant’) The first actor in a play; thence the principal actor or character. In Greek tragedy the playwright was limited to the protagonist (first actor), deuteragonist (second actor) and tritagonist (third actor). It is probable that in the first place Greek drama consisted of a Chorus and the leader of the Chorus. Thespis (6th century BC) is believed to have added the first actor to give greater variety to the dialogue and action. The second and third were added by Aeschylus and Sophocles respectively. The protagonist has come to be the equivalent of the hero.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Oscar Wilde on Morality

“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt toward people we personally dislike.”

Oscar Wilde

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Book of Answers: Closet Drama

“What is a closet drama?  It is a play, usually in verse, written for private reading rather than performance. Byron’s Manfred (1817) and Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (1820) are examples.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Tin Pan Alley

“Tin Pan Alley: Genre of U.S. popular music that arose in New York in the late 19th century. The name was coined by the songwriter Monroe Rosenfeld as the byname of the street on which the industry was based—28th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway in the early 20th century, around Broadway and 32nd Street in the 1920s, and ultimately on Broadway between 42nd and 50th Streets. ‘Tin Pan’ referred to the sound of pianos furiously pounded by ‘song pluggers‘ demonstrating tunes to publishers. The genre comprised the commercial music of songwriters of ballads, dance music, and vaudeville songs, and its name eventually became synonymous with U.S. popular music. Its demise resulted from the rise of film, audio recording, radio, and TV, which created a demand for more and different kinds of music, and commercial songwriting centers grew up in such cities as Hollywood and Nashville.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Greta Garbo

If you can use it, which I suppose is another way of saying if you have a student with an interest in her, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Greta Garbo. This is a half-page worksheet with a three-sentence reading and three comprehension questions. A simple, but effective introduction to this famously reclusive woman.

May I presume to recommend a viewing of Ninotchka? I doubt anyone would be sorry he or she watched this fine film.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Claire Booth Luce

“Clare Boothe Luce: (1903-1987): American playwright and diplomat. Following her divorce from George T. Brokaw in 1929, Luce worked as an editor at Vogue and Vanity Fair. She published a novel, Stuffed Shirts (1933), under the name Clare Boothe Brokaw. In 1935 she married the publisher Henry Luce. She is best known for a series of theatrical successes, including The Women (1936), Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1938), Margin for Error (1939), Child of the Morning (1951), and Slam the Door Softly (1970). Luce’s political interests led her to public service. She served two terms (1943-47) in the House of Representatives from Connecticut and was ambassador to Italy from 1953 to 1956. She was confirmed as ambassador to Brazil in 1959 but resigned without serving because of controversy surrounding her confirmation.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.