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Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson introduces the drama genre.

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For the most part, Drama is considered works of fiction intended to be performed by actors on a stage in front of an audience. The actors assume the roles of the characters and put the play into action according to the director’s perspective of the work.

The Script

Dramatic works of fiction are referred to as plays, and are written by playwrights. The script provides the dialogue for each character, as well as stage directions (written cues for where they should stand on stage and how they should physically interact with the set and other characters). Stage directions are either enclosed in parentheses or printed in italics and set slightly apart visually on the page. The script might also provide a list of characters, backstories, or any additional information the playwright included along with the play.


Plays (and scripts) are divided into Acts, and the end of each act is signaled by either dropping the curtain or dimming the lights. Acts mark the changes in time, setting, characters on stage, or even the mood of the action. They are further divided into Scenes, which mark minor changes in setting, the entrance of a new character, or the passage of time. When an entire play unfolds as a continuous action or in one setting, it is considered a One Act Play.


Some additional components of Dramatic Works

Soliloquy: dramatic convention where a character is alone on stage and appears to be talking out loud to him or herself. Playwrights use soliloquies to reveal a character’s inner thoughts and feelings without the use of a narrator.


The Set and Stage

Setting: The where and when of the plot.

  • Set: the on-stage materials that create a sense of place in the eyes of the audience, which includes scenery and props
    • Scenery: Backdrops and structures (such as walls and windows to indicate houses and buildings, or separate inside from outside)
    • Props: objects handled by actors on stage during a play (may include furniture)


Stage: The area set before the audience in which the action will take place. The two main types of stages are a thrust stage and a proscenium stage.

  • thrust stage protrudes into the audience, so that the audience surrounds the stage on three sides (also known as Theater in the Round)
  • proscenium stage separated by an archway and curtain from the audience, has three walls to represent a room with four walls


Spectacle: All of the material (or sensory) aspects of the play that they audience sees as a physical reality, creating a mood or atmosphere

  • set (scenery, props)
  • costumes
  • sound effects
  • lighting



An example of a Dramatic work:

The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)

Four Acts (not subdivided into scenes)




Reverend Parris            

Betty Parris                         


Abigail Williams             

Susanna Walcott

Mrs. Ann Putnam            

Thomas Putnam            

Mercy Lewis                        

Mary Warren                        

John Proctor

Rebecca Nurse            

Giles Corey

Reverend John Hale

Elizabeth Proctor

Francis Nurse

Ezekiel Cheever

Marshal Herrick

Judge Hathorne

Deputy Gov. Danforth

Sarah Good




  • Where: Salem, Massachusetts
  • When: Spring of 1692

Act One: Set: Small upper bedroom in Reverend Parris’s home

  • Scenery: bed, chest, chair, and small table, door at the back that leads to the landing of the stairs.
  • Props: burning candle near the bed,


Act Two: Set: Common room of Proctor’s house, eight days later

  • Scenery: fireplace to the left, door to outside to the right, stairway leading upstairs,
  • Props: Proctor’s gun, pot over the fire and ladle, wash basin, salt, small rag doll Mary gives to Goody Proctor, whip Proctor grabs from over the mantel,


Act Three: Set: Vestry room of the Salem meeting house, now serving as the anteroom of the General Court

  • Scenery: walls are comprised of boards that are of random length, two doors on the right to the main meeting house, two high windows on the far wall, door to the outside to the left, plain bench to the left and right, center is large meeting table with seats and a large armchair.
  • Props: the papers serving as the depositions signed by various characters,


Act Four: Set: A cell in Salem jail, that fall.

  • Scenery: high barred window, a great heavy door, two benches along the walls
  • Props: Marshal Herrick has a flask, lantern, Sarah Good is dressed in rags.


Example of Stage Directions and Dialogue as seen in the script:
Now, look you, Goody Putnam; she never... (Enter Thomas Putnam, a well-to-do, hard-handed landowner near fifty.) Oh, good morning, Mister Putnam... 
PUTNAM: It is a providence the thing is out now! It is a providence.
PARRIS: What's out, sir, what's... ?
PUTNAM: (Looking down at Betty.) Why, her eyes is closed! Look you, Ann.