The aspects of west drama started with Greek thinker Aristotle who declared in The Poetics (c.335BC) each dramatic power (tragedy) should contain the six vital elements of plot, character, thought (theme), diction (language), melody (music-dance, song, rhythm) and also spectacle. This is history’s very first surviving instance of dramatic theory. In modern drama education, over there is no collection list of dramatic elements. State and also national curriculum body differ in both content and also terminology. In this short article I have actually updated a really popular yet outdated perform of dramatic elements. Right here is a perform of 30 that the many common elements of drama v my own descriptors. Where comparable terms median the exact same (such together focus and emphasis), i have consisted of both terms. Remember, over there is no critical list that the elements of drama! i trust this post may prove valuable for both drama/theatre teachers and their students, alike. – Justin Cash

30 Dramatic Elements


Action, or dramatic action, refers to the propelling of the plot indigenous one moment to the following in the play. This will normally relate to the structure of the play, as the action moves forward from the early stages (exposition) to the inciting incident, rising action, one or more crises, the climax, falling action and climate the conclusion. Check out the “Structure” card additional down this perform for an ext information on exactly how plays are formed.

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Without an audience over there is no such point as a performance, together a play without an audience need to be considered a rehearsal. Thus actors must constantly be mindful the audience forms part of the plot of performing. The element of audience can specifically describe the engagement actors have actually with your audience with performance, recognized as the actor-audience relationship. This exact nature the this relationship deserve to vary depending upon the format of the performance. For example, a performer in a purely naturalistic drama may disregard the audience altogether (they may even have their ago facing the audience), if a demonstrate in a reality drama may be aware of the presence of an audience yet not perform directly to them, conversely, a performer in an epos theatre play by Bertolt Brecht may regularly rest the fourth wall surface and interact directly with sections the the audience. Manipulating exactly how a demonstrate relates to and also engages v the audience in performance can be both an academic exercise and fun in ~ the same time.


Most dramas will have actually one or much more crises in the advance of the plot. A situation is a key moment that dramatic tension and conflict in the play, usually emerging between two or an ext characters and having serious implications for the outcome of the plot. The can be fried crisis, or highest peak, is usually referred to as the climax and often (but no always) occurs toward the finish of a play. Over there can also be much more than one climax in a drama, back this is uncommon. One anti-climax is likewise possible.


Playwright George boy name Shaw as soon as said ‘No conflict, no drama’. How right that was! Drama that lacks conflict is usually dull and also uninspiring. As a rule, dispute should constantly be considered vital ingredient for every dramatic performances. Dispute can be between two or more characters, or simply one (inner conflict). Many Elizabethan soliloquies save on computer inner dispute (‘To it is in or not to be…’ is an excellent example). Conflict on stage can be verbal, physics or non-verbal. Conflict differs from stress in that it is regularly a fixed and also permanent part of the framework of a play installed in the cloth of the drama, often from the outset, with personalities destined come clash v one another.


Without the cautious use of comparison a performance is boring and lacks tension. In an easy terms contrast is a suggest of difference. An noticeable example of comparison is a sad scene complied with by a happy scene. However contrast have the right to be created in much more subtle and innovative ways, such together manipulating the drama to create a change in setting, pace or time. Contrast in between characters should likewise be considered. Contrast can be developed by transforms in language, timing, mood, lighting, energy, relationships, situation, and also more. A careful use of comparison in a performance have the right to keep one audience involved in the drama.


A convention is an exhilaration or staging technique. Instances of conventions encompass the usage of a narrator, an aside, a soliloquy, direct address, usage of placards, track etc. Conventions room normally connected with a particular performance or theatrical style, often associated with one or an ext theatre practitioners. Sometimes conventions space linked more generally with the method drama to be performed in a details era, for example the conventions that Elizabethan drama.


A moment, or dramatic moment, is self-explanatory. That is a details moment in the play, generally lasting just a short time, where the activity is dramatic in some way. Yet being dramatic walk not constantly mean according to noises and also lots of relocating characters. A dramatic moment can be a poignant moment of stillness or silence. Dramatic moments can additionally occur with only a single actor and also even there is no sets and props, such is the strength of drama. The tempo and rhythm that a pat often change when a dramatic moment occurs. Tension is frequently manipualted when producing dramatic moments and the facet of comparison is frequently employed.


Energy is the strongness of a character’s plot in a drama. Numerous plays contrast one or an ext high-energy personalities with low-energy characters. Energy as such refers to both vivacious and also vibrant characters as well as slow, dispirited, or exhausted characters. Before a character can be illustrated with a certain kind of energy, the performer should possess this energy. In general terms, energy can also refer come the strongness of a certain performance or the form of show being perform (e.g. A musical).


Focus has multiple interpretations in drama and performance. While the can often be supplied interchangeably with the term concentration, together an facet of drama, emphasis is much more often associated with emphasis. Unequal the movies or television, where the filmmaker can zoom into the actor or area in question, in the theatre we have to employ other approaches to attract the focus of the audience. Exactly how do us channel the attention of the audience to a specific area that the stage in order to offer this particular room appropriate emphasis? just how do we emphasis the lens that the spectator to the little bird in the hand of the actor downstage left? What directorial techniques can we rental to place emphasis on the two pirates sneaking onto the ship upstage? How deserve to we use theatrical lighting to ensure focus is inserted on the character who is singing? These are all challenges associated with focus and emphasis in performance.


The usage of language in performance deserve to be verbal, vocal or non-verbal. Language is typically the talked text. It is the written manuscript realised in performance. If normally spoken by the actor, language can also be chanted or sung. Language can also deliberately it is in nonsensical because that dramatic effect. The choice of language in power is crucial, as it develops a major means of connecting the story of the drama come the audience. Exactly how the actor in a power chooses to usage language is usually established by the expressive ability of voice. However, language can also be non-verbal, generally referred to together body language. The facets of voice and also language have to not be confused. Making use of the voice is the process of speaking verbal language.


Metaphor in drama involves a second reference in bespeak to improve the meaning of the first. For instance “The guy is a goose”. The summary of the characteristics of the very first reference (the man) is intensified by understanding of the 2nd reference (the fact that a goose is considered a silly waterfowl through its looks, huge feet and awkward behaviour). Another example can be uncovered in Arthur Miller’s beat The Crucible, set in the Salem witch trials the 1692-93, yet actually about the spread out of communist in 1950s America (the time and place that the play’s writing). Bertolt Brecht employed a similar dramatic metaphor in his occupational The Resistible increase of Arturo Ui, a play collection in 1930s gangster-ridden Chicago that was really about Hitler’s Germany. George Orwell’s Animal Farm was not about the pets at all, however Russia and the Soviet Union under Communist Party rule. Dramatic metaphors, however, must not be perplexed with the usage of symbols. When an object is used as a symbol, the is replaced by the symbolic an interpretation – for example the red rose is currently replaced through the emotion of love. However, through dramatic metaphor, the second reference enhances this definition without instead of it.


Mood is the emotion or tone of a performance and also is naturally linked with atmosphere. It refers to ambience or aura and is often produced through a mix of several elements of drama and production locations working in harmony. The environment of a power is carefully linked with day-to-day feelings together as are afraid or desire. Mood in drama have the right to be created via sound, lighting, movement, setting, rhythm, contrast, conflict, and more. The is also possible to develop a specific mood or setting in simply one moment or step in a play. Therefore you can have an ext than one mood gift in a single performance.



Movement is the self-explanatory action of a performer moving in the drama follow to the character’s objective, motivation, neighboring circumstances and interaction with various other characters. The physical activity of activity often defines character relationships and situations. While certain varieties of movement have the right to involve walking (and the hundreds of different ways of doing just this), running, sliding, fall etc, stage room needs to it is in used, including upstage, downstage, phase left, stage right, etc.


Plot is the activity of the drama. Plenty of plays have more than one plot, often consisting the a key plot and also one or more (less important) plots known as subplots. Shakespeare’a tv series are standard examples the plays through multiple plots keeping the audience engaged at every turn. The “story” that a drama is usually thought about any action referred or implied come on stage, however not seen. This is frequently the backstory of various personalities revealed in the early component of the drama (exposition). Story different from plot in the the plot that the drama should be viewed by the audience.



Posture is the position in i beg your pardon a character holds their body when standing or sit (not moving). Posture can define a character’s attitude, social status, inner feelings, rank, and also more. Posture is similar to a character’s attitude or stance.


The facet of relationships refers to the interrelationships in between characters in a play. Character connections influence the means the plot evolves. These relationships might be friendly, conflicting, romantic, of equal status, or otherwise. Some relationships in a drama might be fixed, when others might be variable and subject to adjust as the plot evolves.



Rhythm is an ext commonly a musical term, however in drama it refers to timing and also pace. It also means the beat or tempo the the totality performance. As a rule, rhythm must never it is in the very same throughout the drama, nevertheless of its length. Rhythm can follow the emotionally state of one or much more characters or the environment of the play at particular moments. The aspect of rate is carefully linked come movement. An day-to-day ritual gift on stage, such as obtaining ready for work in the morning, have the right to involve repetitive and rhythmic actions and also gestures. What is the rhythm of the lengthy line of people in the joblessness queue? What is the valuation of the great scene whereby students room misbehaving for the instead of teacher? exactly how does the rhythm contrast in these two examples? valuation can also have a ar in the shipment of dialogue. The most evident example is the message of shak spa dramas ceded using iambic pentameter. Yet all personality dialogue, no matter how informal, should have a details rhythm attached to it.


Role and character lie at the heart of every drama due to the fact that without them, drama would certainly not exist. Duty and character are often used interchangeably to median the same, while sometimes these terms room separated. Duty is normally linked with role-playing in drama, i beg your pardon can happen at any type of level. Acquisition on a role often wake up as part of the procedure of drama and not constantly the product (performance). However, the is additionally entirely agree to asking an actor what his or her role is in the play? Role-playing is famous in drama improvisation games and also often requires quick transitions right into roles with tiny or no preparation, sometimes including a stimulus. While adopting a duty is vital in knowledge the essence of drama, that is often considered less facility than depicting a character. Personalities often have sophisticated backstories and undergo transforms during the advancement of the plot. Depicting a character entails the application of expressive and performance skills. In skilled theatre, over there are plenty of acting methods for developing and sustaining character (e.g. The Method).



Setting refers to the place of a scene, play or musical. Numerous dramas have much more than one setting. Productions with physical sets typically have clearly defined settings, however smaller dramas and one-person dram (monodramas) may have tiny or no set or props to help identify locations. In this examples, the show will usage dialogue and other expressive an abilities to represent a setting, including any kind of changes. This is known as one implied location or setting.


Situation in drama describes the provided circumstances of the dramatic action happening in the play. This is a simple concept. What is the setting of the pat (time, location, etc)? What room the scenarios of the given scene (an argument, marital relationship proposal, a betrayal of friendship, medical emergency, college assembly, election campaign, etc)? clearly conveying the situation in the play in ~ any particular time renders the drama systematic for the audience.


Modern theatrical practice relies ~ above sound and also music to aid in a number of ways. When theatre has actually traditionally supplied lighting to create atmosphere in performance, sound and also music is being significantly manipulated to create mood. Use of sound have the right to involve the implementation that technology, such together sound effects and also soundscapes. Actors and their bodies can also construct reliable sound in performance. Tiny props can produce sound effects that deserve to be used live throughout a show. Sound in drama can also involve the lack of sound!


This element refers to the reliable use the available an are in a performance. An are can it is in both horizontal and also vertical. Performers can be upstage or downstage, phase left or stage right. Different levels of space can likewise be utilised such together sitting, bending over, lie down, crawling or physically using one more level that a phase set. In order come use an are effectively, movement becomes critical factor. Use of space also involves plainly communicating come the audience whereby the activity is taking place. This might include any type of changes in ar that happen in the performance, specifically if little or no set or props are being used and also there is a hefty reliance on the audience’s imagination – otherwise recognized as implied an are in the drama. Occasionally theatre buildings or specific productions can developed using a particular room such together traverse staging, proscenium arch, thrust staging or arena/in the round.



Spectacle is one old-fashioned term that was among the an essential elements that a tragedy as defined by Aristotle in The Poetics. Historically, Aristotle referred to spectacle elements as costumes, scenery, gestures made by actors, and also the sensory effects of the resonance that the performers’ voice (sound). In a contemporary context, spectacle refers to all the visual facets of a play – those combine theatre stagecraft and production areas. These can include stage sets, lighting, costumes, props, make-up, one-of-a-kind effects and also multimedia. Spectacle in modern-day theatre is probably much more important today than it to be centuries back due come the development of modern technology and that integration right into all level of theatre.


Structure, or dramatic structure, describes the backbone the a drama. A usual structure the a play requires the exposition and also initial action at the beginning, an inciting occurrence where the dispute and point of attack within the pat is revealed, rising activity involving conflict and also one or more crises, the ultimate dilemm known as the climax, then the falling action towards the latter component of the drama bring about the conclusion, i beg your pardon is not constantly a happy resolution. The French indigenous denouement is often used to define a play’s ending. Analyzed into English, denouement way the untying or unravelling the the knot, in other words the untying of all the complexities the the plot into a conclusion. Non-typical frameworks involve cyclical plots that finish where lock began, obvious in part absurdist plays. The an easy fact the Shakespeare and also his contemporaries always wrote dram in a five-act layout is also an instance of structure. In later years, a three-act layout was common, further reduced to 2 acts. Today, short one-act dram consisting of numerous brief scenes is a usual dramatic structure in modern theatre.


The use of icons in dramatic performance have the right to be one of the simplest and additionally most complex of all techniques. Symbolism implies a greater an interpretation than the literal meaning suggestion. Props are the easiest to work-related with because objects in everyday life are symbols in culture (a increased symbolises love; a overcome symbolises Christianity). Signs can likewise be uncovered in the usage of colour. We often symbolise purple with royalty, red with anger or desire, black through evil and also darkness or white through purity and innocence. Colour association deserve to be worthwhile icons with costumes, sets and also props. Yet the most advanced use of symbols occurs through the applications of gesture and also movement. A certain gesture performed by a character early in a performance can be recurring under one more context and have a really different meaning. Offered only once, a gesture can also be a an effective symbol. Every one of these instances can be merged for even much better effect.


Tension, or dramatic tension, often lies with the development of suspense in a drama. As the audience anticipates specific outcomes in the plot, the tension builds. Anxiety differs from problem in the it is normally a transient event that might take location multiple times in a solitary play. An noticeable example of increasing tension wake up in a mystery play or whodunit. In these instances, the audience is left in a continuous state of suspense trying to recognize the genuine culprit. The advance of tension as such usually parallels the advancement of the plot, causing a dilemm or climax. Tension is very closely linked through the facet of timing.


Theme refers to what a pat is about (often the main idea), while what especially happens on stage is the plot. With the dramatic activity of the plot, the deeper definition of the play is revealed. A solitary play have the right to consist of multiple themes. Extracting a layout from a play involves viewing it through a wider lens and seeing the larger picture. Is the play about a team of friends indigenous different societies really around racism? instances of themes in plays space power, revenge, mateship, love, greed, nature, good versus evil, coming of age, family, isolation, redemption, injustice, etc.


The concept of time is necessary in many drama performances. In period drama, time may be as broad as a certain era, such together the 1880s. Various other dramas loosely convey a modern or contemporary portrayal of time. Some plays save on computer a much more specific time that should be conveyed come the audience. These may involve the season the the year, month, day, or even hour. A much more generic usage of time entails the usage of the future, back this can also be details by stating the actual year. Time can also refer to just how long the drama takes to perform. This deserve to be of specific importance in naturalistic dramas whereby the size of stage time in a play may equal actual time in the theatre. Flashforwards, flashbacks and also other disjointed time order in a drama can also refer to alters in time. Alternatively, plays have the right to deliberately appear timeless within the civilization of the play. Part absurdist dramas deliberately follow this structure.


Timing in performance refers to the dramatic time of movements and also gestures. We often take our activities for granted in daily life, yet when performing, the use of our body must be closely considered and controlled. Timing deserve to be manipulated to demonstrate authentic, stylised or non-realistic movements and gestures. The time of movements for a tired old male will differ from those of an energetic young schoolboy. Similarly, the gestures the a tyrannical dictator will certainly differ indigenous the suppressed civilization living under his regime. Rhythm, pace and movement are specifically affected by timing in drama.

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Voice is a crucial element in most dramatic performances. A drama without the use of voice is taken into consideration a movement piece or a mime. While some would place voice in the group of a performer’s expressive skills, it is nevertheless an facet essential to virtually every drama. Vocal selection can be accomplished via the use of projection, pitch, tone, price (pace), emphasis, diction (articulation/enunciation), valuation (beat), pause, intonation, tempo, subtext, and also even silence.