Preface to Drama: An Introduction to Dramatic Literature and Theater Art

By Charles W. Cooper | Go to book overview
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I. PRELIMINARY
Orientation to Drama

Wherever and whenever humans have progressed beyond the mere struggle for physical existence, to gods and recreation and self-expression, there has been theater in some sense. . . . -- SHELDON CHENEY, The Theatre

IN THE THEATER a musical overture serves as a pleasant and useful introduction to the comedy or opera about to be performed. In much the same way this preliminary orientation to Drama will serve as a prelude to the essays and plays that follow in this book.

You have already enjoyed seeing plays, certainly, though most of them have probably been in the form of movies, radio dramas, and TV shows. Except for school productions, you may have seen only a few regular stageplays. And possibly you have read no more than a handful of dramas. With the changing emphasis in education, Julius Caesar or some other one of Shakespeare's works is the only play studied in common by the great majority of students in most of our public high schools.

If, then, your theater and drama experiences have been few, this will be your chance to fill a gap, we hope not unpleasantly. If, however, you are an old hand at playreading and playgoing, you will be expected to build further upon what knowledge you have already acquired. Your present store and interests, whatever they are, will be with you now as you take your seat and as this overture begins.


§ 1. DRAMATIC, THEATRIC, AND SEMANTIC ELEMENTS IN LIFE

As a first step in our preliminary orientation, let us consider certain elements, commonly observed in human life, that combine to form the drama. Think of your family and friends, your sports and recreation, your business and politics, your social and cultural activities, your education and religion, your inner life and outer behavior. In

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Preface to Drama: An Introduction to Dramatic Literature and Theater Art
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