Strategies of Drama: The Experience of Form

Strategies of Drama: The Experience of Form

Strategies of Drama: The Experience of Form

Strategies of Drama: The Experience of Form

Synopsis

This work takes a phenomenological approach to analyzing the dramatic form, focusing not on the interpretation of plays, but rather on Brownstein's perceptions and their sources. The distinct aspects of the dramatic art form are discussed using a wide variety of well-known plays, from ancient Greece to the present day. Brownstein offers a theoretical survey of the "perception shift" that infuses even the smallest element of a play, the forces that are expressed through major dramatic strategies, and the ways in which a single narrative sequence may serve both prospective and retrospective strategies.

Excerpt

A basic premise of this book is that the goal of art is the creation of experience; my purpose is to present a particular understanding of the way experience is created by dramatic art. That implies a very great ambition in a very short way: that the focus is on what is unique and essential to drama as an art form, on its special powers to orchestrate the imagination, and on the means by which it can produce a real event, a personal encounter, in the lives of participating spectators. If the final goal of dramatic art is not meaning, it follows that the final goal of play analysis is not interpretation.

How does one talk about art? When I first became involved with a semiprofessional theater while still in high school, I encountered a language that was zesty and evocative but a total mystery to me. Given no explanations or definitions, I had to discover the uses of that language from observation alone. It became my entrée to an exciting secret world of the inner life of the drama, as if a new eye had opened. Though I could not have explained it, I came to feel that I knew what was meant when someone said, "It works," about a scene, a character, a speech, a costume, a design, a prop, or even a light cue. I began to sense the form of "a beat," to see how "the character had a stake, " what it meant "to put a clock on the play, " what constituted "the conflict of the scene," and how to trace "the spine" and "the arc" of a play. in time there were to be many other such juicy expressions, as when I recently heard a Broadway director praise a play script because "it got smarter."

But not long after my induction into the mystery of the theater I went off to college and soon began to grow skeptical of that language. It occurred to me to demand definitions, and those expressions were not definable.

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