Othello Dramatic Terms

Drama The art of composing, writing, acting or producing plays; a literary composition intended to portray life or character or to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions exhibited through action and dialog, designed for theatrical performance
Theater The imitation/representation or life, performed for other people; the performance of dramatic literature; the milieu of actors and playwrights; the place that is the setting for dramatic performances
Theater literacy The ability to create, perform, perceive, analyze, critique, and understand dramatic performance
Act A section of a play.
Scene A small section of a play. Acts are usually divided into scenes
Action The core of a theater piece; the sense of forward movement created by the sense of time and/or the physical and psychological motivations of characters
Dialog Speech between two or more characters on stage
Monologue A long speech delivered by a character during a dialog
Soliloquy A stage conversation in which a character is not speaking to anyone but is thinking out loud and thus speaking the truth as far as he or she understands it
Aside Speech which only the audience can hear (a character’s thoughts out loud” and which the other characters on stage cannot hear
Prose Everyday speech, without specific rules of rhyme or rhythm
Rhymed verse Usually end rhyme, with a pattern of aa, bb
Blank verse Poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter lines
Iambic pentameter Made of lines of poetry that have 5 sets of 2 syllables (10 syllables per line) with 2nd syllable of each “set” being the one that is stressed
Pun A play on words. Usually funny use of words that has more than one meaning
Rhyming couplet Two rhyming lines or verse next to each other; often SIGNALS THE END OF A SCENE
Motif The repetition of an idea or theme in a work of literature
Medias Res Actions on the stage begin “in the middle”
Dramatic question The central question that liners on the audience’s mind at the end of each scene. Based on the past events that have unfolded on stage, the audience is wondering how these events will affect the future of the play
Tragedy A type of drama in which the characters experience reversals of fortune, usually for the worse. In —-, catastrophe and suffering await many of the characters, especially the hero
Tragic hero A privileged, exalted character of high repute, who, by virtue of a tragic flaw and fate, suffers a fall from glory into suffering
Tragic flaw A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero (proof that no human is perfect)
Free will A character’s own action, the opposite of fate
Hubris The flaw of incredible arrogance, or an overwhelming egotism that blinds the hero to reality
Dramatic irony A time in the play when the audience possesses knowledge that the character does not
Catharsis A release of emotions that the audience experiences during a tragedy
Pathos A quality of a play’s action that stimulates the audience to feel pity for a character. Pathos is always an aspect of tragedy, and may be present in comedy as well
Rhetoric The art of persuasive or emotive speaking1) Logos: an appeal to logic2) Pathos: An appeal to emotions3) Ethos: an appeal to trust the words, based on the speaker’s authority or qualifications
Fate vs. free will (theme) When the hero blames —- for their downfall, however —- is a vital aspect of a tragedy
Tension The atmosphere created by unresolved, disquieting, or inharmonious situations that human beings feel compelled to address
Motivation The reason why the character speaks and acts like he/she does
Stage direction A playwright’s descriptive or interpretive comments that provide readers (and actors) with information about the dialog, setting, and action of a play.
Artistic choices Selections by theater artists about situation, action, direction, and design in order to convey meaning
Gesture The physical movement of a character during a play. Gesture is used to reveal character, and may include facial expressions as well as movements of other parts of an actor’s body.
Stage business Incidental activity performed by an actor for dramatic effect
Dramatic reading A “performance” of a play in which the actors are script-in-hand.
Improvisation The spontaneous use of movement and speech to create a character or object in a particular situation
Blackout A common stage direction at the end of a scene or an act
Center (stage) The center of the performance space, used for placement of the actors and the set
Downstage The part of the stage closest to the audience
Unified production concept A brief statement, metaphor, or expression of the essential meaning of a play that orders and patterns all the play’s parts

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