Plays and Performance - Glossary terms

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Alienation Effect
The distancing effect is a technique used that prevents the audience from losing itself completely in the narrative, instead making it a conscious critical observer. (mainly associated with Brecht)
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Aside
Used as a stage direction in plays, to indicate that certain words are to be spoken out of the hearing of other characters on the stage.
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Catharsis
The purification of the emotions by vicarious experience.
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Climax
The turning point of the action in the plot of a play and the point of greatest tension in the work.
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Denouement / Resolution
Literally the action of untying. The final outcome of the main complication in a play. Usually this occurs after the climax.
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Deus Ex Machina
When an external source resolves the entanglements of a play by supernatural intervention. The Latin phrase means 'a god from the machine'. The phrase refers to the use of artificial means to resolve the plot of a play.
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Epic Theatre
A Brechtian phrase used to suggest that a play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action before them, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of action on the stage.
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Exposition
The first stage of a fictional plot, where the background information is provided.
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Falling Action
This is when the events and complications begin to resolve themselves and tension is released. We learn whether the conflict has been resolved or not.
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Metatheatre
Theatre which draws attention to its unreality, especially by the use of a play within a play.
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Mise-en-abyme
A term denoting self-reflection within the structure of a literay work; a work employing self-reflection. For example, a play within a play.
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Mise-en-scene
The staging of a play; the scenery and properties of a stage production; the stage setting.
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Pageant
A play in a Medieval mystery cycle; an act or a scene in such a play. It also refers to the stage or platform on which scenes were acted or tableaux represented.
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Poor Theatre
A term associated with Grotowski. He called his theatre poor because it dispensed with theatrical trappings and the technological resources of 'rich' theatre. Grotowski made the actor's voice and body central to the performance.
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Reversal / Peripeteia
The point at which the action of the plot turns in an unexpected direction for the protagonist - from failure to success or success to failure
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Satire
A literary work that criticizes thuman misconduct and ridicules vices, stupidities, and follies.
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Theatre of the Absurd
A collective term for plays portraying the futility and anguish of man's struggle in a senseless and inexplicable world.
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Tragedy
A type of drama in which the characters experience reversal of fortune, usually for the worse. In tragedy, suffering awaits many of the characters, especially the hero.
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Tragicomedy
A play which combines the qualities of a tragedy and comedy, or contains both tragic and comic elements. A work that is tragic in character but has a happy ending.
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Unity of time, place, and action
Limiting the time, place and action of a play to a single spot and a single action over the period of 24 hours.
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Card 2

Front

Used as a stage direction in plays, to indicate that certain words are to be spoken out of the hearing of other characters on the stage.

Back

Aside

Card 3

Front

The purification of the emotions by vicarious experience.

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

The turning point of the action in the plot of a play and the point of greatest tension in the work.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Literally the action of untying. The final outcome of the main complication in a play. Usually this occurs after the climax.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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