A Play or Drama is one of the genres of literature and is basically a blueprint for a stage production. It involves actors, action, settings, script, plot, climax, and so on and is usually divided into Acts or Scenes. Generally all plays have three-act structure and they are Protasis (Exposition), Epitasis (Complication) and Catastrophe (Resolution). A play performed in a stage is called as stage play. It is performed by actors and directed or designed by others. It is from the script of the play that the actors and directors take their cues. The art of writing a play is known as playwriting and the one who writes a play is called as a playwright.
It is inquisitive that a play is supposed to appear realistic to the audience while it's an original creation that arises from the writer’s mind. The text of the play is generally full with dialogue and these dialogues are like prose, as there are terse, tense sections where characters battle with each other while at other times they can be elegant, noble, seductive, and poetic. If one is great with dialogue, then he/she can write a play with less effort. It's crucial that one should remember that writing is not just to be performed, but to be read as well.
Since a play is meant to be performed, it has to adhere to some "unities" because of limitations in time and the confines of the stage. Adherence to the unities of Time, Place and Action is a must for a play. The characters and locations are usually limited in some way for the audience to follow easily. The time frame of the play is also limited and mostly it is shown for one hour or two hours in the stage, even if the play may take over a period of 15 or 30 years. As a writer, in the initial stage, one should not bother too much about how the play will be performed; rather he should concern himself on getting his idea in writing efficiently as it is more important to get his idea onto the page.
While beginning a play, one should be aware of certain essential elements that form the crux of a play. They are Characters, Setting, Stage Direction, Plot, Exposition, Inciting Incident, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Denouement, and finally Resolution. Characters also known as the "Dramatis Personae" or Cast of Characters have an important role in a play. A playwright needs to be aware of his characters and should have the knowledge on the purpose, aim and role of each characters involved in the play. Setting is nothing but the place where the play takes place and also involves the timeline telling when it takes place. A playwright should give the time period, items needed on stage as well as place in the world. Stage directions are not for the audience but for the actors, designers, and director to give them a clue about what they actually see transpiring on stage. Stage directions are not meant to be narrated. A writer should include Common Description on Setting, Entrances, Exits, Murders, Physical Action to make sense to the dialogue, Applicable and relevant pauses in the dialogue; and should not include Delivery hints for every line, Full description of the costumes each character wears, Background on the sets or characters other than the main relationships, Every character’s thoughts or intentions. Stage directions never peep into the inner life of the characters or objects on the stage. Plot is the core element of a play and it forms the structure of a play. The plot or structure of a play usually has a beginning, middle, and an end. The plot includes Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Denouement. It’s not necessary that all the above elements should be present in a play. Exposition provides the background story and context of a play. It’s something like introducing the characters by a narrator or giving a gist of what happened before the play started. Exposition can be delivered at any point in a play. One need not have to explain it all at the beginning. It's essential to remember why the play begins at this juncture and the writer should only give out what the audience need to know at that juncture. The rest can be told later on, as this will create some suspense. Inciting Incident leads the play to the plot. It is the challenge that a character is thrown at. Rising Action deals with scenes on which the story is built upon. Characters are fully introduced and revealed within this part of the play. Conflicts are portrayed and loyalty ascertained. Climax is the turning point of action in the plot of a play. The climax stands for the point of greatest tension in the work. It is the moment where things will never remain the same as a result of some action that has come in the previous scenes. Falling Action deals with the conflicts and challenges in the earlier scenes and are faced at and resolved. Denouement is not included in all plays, but it is usually the acceptance or rejection that the protagonist has done in the earlier scenes. Resolution is on how things work out finally. It shows whether the ending is a happy or a sad one.
In a play, character interaction is driven by means of the three elements Discovery, revelation and Decision. These are otherwise known as the elements of Dramatic Action. Any number of these elements can be added to the scenes or characters as they help move the plot forward. Plays, themselves, have different genres and follow different styles. It is mostly determined by the way a play is put together as a whole. In Comedies, we can see happy endings and the dialogue is usually brief. Tragedies have sad endings and contain mostly long passages of dialogue. Style is determined by the actions portrayed and the reaction of the characters to it. Playwriting involves all the above said details and one can become an effective playwright by keeping these points in his/her mind before one starts to writing.
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