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26 Best Techniques to Consider When Designing Drama Scripts


There some terminologies and techniques that are associated with drama or play which you may find necessary to use when writing or analyzing a play.

1. Plot

The plot is the sequential arrangement of events in a play. It is said to be linear when there is a kind of chronological or sequential events in the play.

On the other hand, we may have a play in which time order is dislocated. This happens, for example, when we have flashbacks.

2. Theme

This is the message of the play or what the play is all about. It is possible to have a theme and/or, multiple themes in one play.

The theme is the philosophical underpinning of a play. It is derived from the plot of the play. One major theme in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame, for example, is predestination.

3. Characters and characterization

The agents responsible for actions and conflicts in plays are known as characters. It is the formation of the characters by a playwright that is known as characterization.

It should be noted that characters can be human agents as in most plays and they can be animal agents.

4. Setting

This involves the location of the play. It may be divided into three: time, place and atmosphere.

Time relates to when the action takes place, place indicates the location of the action in terms of physical space while atmosphere describes the socio-psychological mood of the play.

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5. Language

The language of the play is the exchange means of communicative method adopted in the play. It is dialogical in nature. Azeez (2001) identifies three viz: verbal (spoken), gestural (paralinguistic like nodding, eyeing, etc,) and symbolic (semiotic).

Language gives expression to other elements of drama. The language of drama may be poetic or prosaic.

6. Cast

It is a list of actors and actresses given that defined roles in a drama by the playwright or director.

7. Playwright

A playwright is the writer of a piece of drama or play.

8. Conflict

This involves the protagonist and the antagonist in their rivalry and struggle for assertion of influence or relevance in a piece of drama.

9. Protagonist

A character is the person or other creatures that play the most prominent role in the play. A protagonist is also referred to as the hero (male) or heroine (female) or the chief character. He or she works towards the success of the play.

10. Antagonist

He/she is a character in a play who opposes the protagonist rightly or wrongly.  Often he/she contradicts the protagonist.

11. Denouement

It is also known as the resolution or the unknotting of events, it is the resultant process soon after the climax has been reached. Here, the conflict in a play is finally resolved.

12. Catharsis

This means purgation (from ‘purging’, the original Greek word). It is the feeling by an audience of a sense of release or the cleansing of the mind of excess emotion. Often though, the shedding of tears ( as when a great tragedy) is being played out on stage.

13. Tragic Flaw

It is a costly mistake made by the protagonist in a play or drama. It could also mean an inbuilt or inherited weakness (flaw), say pride (hubris), which aids the downfall of the protagonist.

The tragic flaw in Hamlet the character, out of ignorant, says or does something which runs counter to the course of action whose real outcome is known to the audience, but is hidden from the character in question.

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14. Suspense

It is the state of anxiety and expectation in the reader/audience of a play as the likely outcome of events. It raises a reader’s interest and keeps him/her guessing as to what will happen next.

15. Soliloquy

It is a device in drama which allows a character to engage in a loud self-talk which enables the reader/audience to have access to what is in him/her mind.

16. Prologue

It is the formal introduction to a play written prose or in verse whose content is relevant to the unfolding events in the play. This device is used in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame.

17. Epilogue

This is the choosing comment in a play which justifies an earlier course of action or fills an untreated gap. The device is used in The Rivals. Who is the author of The Rivals?

18. Chorus

It is a couple or a band of people in a play who takes it upon themselves as a group to comment on the proceedings of dramatic actions in a play. The group sheds light on the unfolding event and prepares the audience for what is to follow.

19. Flashback

This is literary technique involving the recalling of an earlier scene, action, or event which sheds further light on what is currently happening. Wole Soyinka is fond of using this device.

20. Director

The theatre artist who directs the speech, movement and actions of the actors and actresses in the interpretation of the different characters in the play is called a director.

21. Producer

In stage drama, this refers to the person or organization that brings the performance about and also funds it.

22. Interlude

It is a brief performance which serves as an interval to a main performance.

23. Prompter

During a performance, the prompter is the person who stays out of sight to remind an actor or actress of lines which escape his or her memory, to ensure the continuity of actions.

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24. Role Play

This is the playing of a specific role in a dramatic activity without fully transforming into character.

This is different from acting which involves a total transformation of a character. In role playing, the personality of the performer does into fully dissolve into the role being played.

25. Audition

This is the process by which actors and actresses are chosen for specific roles in a performance. This partly involves the reading of lines from the play to the hearing of the director.

26. Climax

The climax of a play is the moment of greatest tension when the conflict attains its peak and is now fully ripe to be resolved.

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