History, Types, Styles, Criticism
The arts are fragments of the time and place which produced them and cannot be comprehended either conceptually or imaginatively, outwardly or inwardly, without a knowledge and imaginative understanding of their context.
-- ERIC BENTLEY, The Playwright as Thinker
AFTER A DRAMA HAS BEEN INTERPRETED and experienced fully, with a rich structuring of its dramatic story, then-- as we said at the end of the last essay--it is time to ask the critical questions: What is the relation of this play to theatrical and dramatic history? to the major dramatic types? to the dramatic styles? to dramatic and theatrical criticism?
This fifth and last essay will provide a basis, necessarily limited, for answering these questions, which apply not alone to dramas but quite as much to stageplays.
Let us glance back in brief summary of what we have so far considered: First, the "Preliminary: Orientation to Drama"--the dramatic and theatric and semantic elements in life that combine in the theater; the Drama, explored in its three dimensions; the interrelation of theater art and dramatic literature; the key terms "stageplay" and "drama" defined. Second, "The Playscript: Creation by the Playwright"--with particular emphasis upon the story elements of character, plot, and dialogue. Third, "The Stageplay: Production for Presentation"--considering the creative activity of the actors and other interpretative artists of the theater. Fourth, "The Play: Recreation by Spectator and Reader"--exploring in some detail the complex psychological responses of the playgoer to a stageplay and of the playreader to a drama.
All of this has involved us in generalizations and discussions of the drama--with illustrative remarks, it is true, about the particular