The following is a brief synopsis of the basic elements of theatre (or performance) according to the Greek philosopher Aristotle.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,
"Aristotle b. 384 BC, Stagira, Chalcidice, Greece d. 322, Chalcis, Euboea
Greek ARISTOTELES, ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, one of the two greatest intellectual figures produced by the Greeks (the other being Plato). He surveyed the whole of human knowledge as it was known in the Mediterranean world in his day.
More than any other thinker, Aristotle determined the orientation and the content of Western intellectual history. He was the author of a philosophical and scientific system that through the centuries became the support and vehicle for both medieval Christian and Islamic scholastic thought: until the end of the 17th century, Western culture was Aristotelian. Even after the intellectual revolutions of centuries to follow, Aristotelian concepts and ideas remained embedded in Western."
Aristotle's ideas on theatre are a theoretical system that most dramatists use today to explore and study theatre. According to Aristotle, successful theatre is composed of six primary elements:
Aristotle's Six Parts of a Theatre
1. Exposition2. CHARACTER: the essences of human behavior.Everything the audience needs to know to understand the play.
"antecedent action" (everything that has happened before the play begins)? and how is it revealed?
"point of attack" The point in the play in which things change.
2. Conflict -- the clash of opposing forces man vs. self, man, environment, natural forces, group, God, or group vs. group."Inciting incident" (or "initiating incident"): the event that occurs to begin the conflict.
Discoveries, reversals (peripety)
Sub-plots / parallel plots major and minor conflicts
3. Climax -- (Wilson, p. 276) the point at which one or the other of the forces is favored; the point at which events must turn in one direction or another. Not necessarily the "high point"
4. Resolution / Denouement -- whatever comes after the climax.Not always resolved satisfactorily: the "deus ex machina" (Wilson, p. 4, 285): -- god of the machine -- a contrived or unrealistic or unbelievable ending / resolution.
Protagonist -- "agon" = struggle; the pro side of the struggle -- often used to refer to the lead character in a tragedy (Wilson, p. 271).3.THOUGHT:
Antagonist -- the anti side of the struggle -- often the bad guy, but could be anyone / thing that struggles against the protagonist.
Foil: (Wilson, p. 322) reveals some aspects of the main characters by having similar or different circumstances or by behaving similarly or differently
Stock characters -- (Wilson, p. 316). exemplify one particular characteristic, as in commedia dell' arte (Wilson, p. 316).
Type -- a character who is larger than life -- as opposed to a "real" or life-like individual [Sporre, 95].The idea, theme ("the me") of the play.
It is often allegorical or symbolic sometimes direct, sometimes indirect.
Plays may often be written about an idea, but the playwright will probably focus more on plot and character to get idea across -- plays are seldom about an idea.4. DICTION / LANGUAGE:
In production, directors seldom try to direct the idea--it is the other values that will get the idea across (tho' sometimes the idea will not be obvious / overt).Language is used to:
5. MUSIC / SONG:depart information, reveal characters, characterize, direct attention, reveal themes and ideas establish mood / tone, establish tempo / rhythm appropriate to character (again, "decorum" had nobility speak poetry, peasants speaking prose).The sound of the dialog, etc. musicality, rhythm, pace, etc. helps establish mood, characterize, lend variety, pleasurable.6. SPECTACLEThe most immediate element
--appropriate and distinctive (but perhaps least important for the "drama / play").
Is the analysis of a work by discussing its form such as its medium, shape, lines, light, color, texture and composition.