Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Aesthetic Quality in Theatre as a Genre of Performance

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Aesthetic Quality in Theatre as a Genre of Performance

Article excerpt


The specific qualities of theatre distinguish itself from any other literary genres. As a theatre presupposes performance, undoubtedly then, it must contain the factors that make it playable. The aesthetic constitution of a theatre and the characteristics of theatrical discourse, which, together with the aesthetic quality of theatre as a branch of literature, make the total charm of a piece of theatrical creation.

Keywords: aesthetic quality, theater, drama

1. Introduction

There is a remarkable difference between a play and any other forms of literature. A play is not really a piece of literature for reading. In the opening part of his book, Boulton points out "a true play is three-dimensional; it is literature that walks and talks before our eyes" (Boulton, 3). It is not intended that the eye shall perceive marks on paper and the imagination turn them into "sights, sounds and actions; the text of the play is meant to be translated into sights, sounds and actions, which occur literally and physically on a stage" (Boulton, 3). A theatre text is read differently. It is read as something incomplete, rather than as a fully rounded unit, since it is only physical. It would seem more logical, therefore, to proceed on the assumption that a theatre text, written with a view to its performance, contains distinguishable structural features that make it performable, beyond the stage directions themselves. Consequently, theatre in nature is a kind of performing art.

2. Dramatic Dramatism and Theatrical Theatricality

What is theatre? The word comes from the Greek theatron, or "seeing place". It is a place where something is seen. And the companion term drama comes from the Greek dran, "to do". It is something done. An action. Theatre: something is seen; something is witnessed.

Theatre is the art of making play into work-specifically, into a work of art. It is exhilarating work, to be sure, and it usually inspires and invigorates the energies and imaginations of all who participate. The theatre is artistic work. The word art brings to mind hosts of intangibles: creativity, imagination, elegance, power, aesthetic harmony, and fineness of form. Furthermore, we expect a work of art to capture something of the human spirit and to touch upon senses, but intellectually elusive, meanings in life. Certainly great theatre never fails to bring together many of these intangibles.

The art of the theatre is never pure art in the sense that it represents the personal vision of a solitary artist. Indeed, many pure artists consider theatrical art a bastard form, combining as it does the several arts of acting, writing, designing, directing, and architecture (Cohen, 15).

A play is a piece of life-animated, shaped, and framed to become a work of art. It provides a structured synthesis-sometimes a critique and sometimes a celebration-of both life's glories and life's confusions. Of course, a play is also a piece of literature. There has been a reading audience for plays at least since the time of the ancient Greeks, and play collections-such as Shakespeare's works-have been published since the Renaissance. Today plays are often printed in literary anthologies, intermixed with poems, short stories, and even novels. But drama should not be thought of as merely a branch, or genre of literature; it is a live performance, some of whose repeatable aspects may be captured in a written and published text.

Dramatic dramatism and theatrical theatricality (Dong Jian, 65-68) are all the key elements of a piece of play. They are different from each other. Dramatic dramatism is fully expressed in the poetic language employed in plays while theatrical theatricality in the performance of plays. Language is the medium of dramatism and spoken line of theatricality. Dramatic dramatism is created by the playwright and director while theatrical theatricality by director and actors. Since theatricality has little relationship with the dramatic text as for the problem of translating, it will not be explored in this paper. …

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