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.
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.
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.
Spectacle: All of the material (or sensory) aspects of the play that they audience sees as a physical reality, creating a mood or atmosphere
An example of a Dramatic work:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)
Four Acts (not subdivided into scenes)
Mrs. Ann Putnam
Reverend John Hale
Deputy Gov. Danforth
Act One: Set: Small upper bedroom in Reverend Parris’s home
Act Two: Set: Common room of Proctor’s house, eight days later
Act Three: Set: Vestry room of the Salem meeting house, now serving as the anteroom of the General Court
Act Four: Set: A cell in Salem jail, that fall.
Example of Stage Directions and Dialogue as seen in the script:
PARRIS: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.