Thursday, December 18, 2008

Elements of Playwriting

Please read the chapter (handout) "What Makes a Play?"
Feel free to complete any of the journal exercises at the end of the chapter.

You should be familiar with the structure of plays.
All plays should have a beginning, middle, and end

All plays are written for the stage (not to just be read)

All plays are written in present tense (not past)

All plays are more powerful if they are tightly written. To be "tightly written" you should avoid using broad-sweeping plots, with many cinematic scene changes.

Plays should adhere to what are called the unitities:
1. The unity of time (plays should not span many years)
2. The unity of place (plays should concentrate action in one or few settings)
3. The unity of action (plays should limit their plots so they are not confusing)

All plays require conflict
Conflict should be balanced (in other words the struggle between protagonist and antagonist should be a fair fight)

Meaning in a play is tied to the action and conflict being presented on stage

All plays should be entertaining (and written to be performed)

All plays should communicate an idea (or belief about the human condition)

Plays are NOT movies. The best way to learn how to write scripts is to read them and see play productions whenever possible.

Full Length Play Project

Use your play scenario to begin your final project/exam for Playwriting. Your full length play should be full length. Excellent students (A+) should prepare to have a play that is about 60-80 pages. Other grades are reduced accordingly. Of course, the play should also be well written.

Please use the standard play script format. The full length play is due: Jan. 22 or 23 (the class before midterms or finals for this class).

Please begin writing your play over the break. There is no reading assignment during this time. Spend your extra time writing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Written around 1601, Twelfth Night is based on the short story "Of Apolonius and Silla", which in turn was based on another story. It is named after the Twelfth Night holiday of the Christmas season.

Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival. The Lord of Misrule (sort of the mascot for this the Easter Bunny or Santa) symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the twelfth night festival a cake containing a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would run the feast--be "king for a day." Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition can be traced back to pagan festivals, such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

The Winter Solstice (December 21st) historically marked the first day of many winter festivals. The 12 nights following and including the solstice represent the 12 zodiac signs of the year - and the 12th Night (New Years Day) is a culmination and celebration of the winter festivals. Thus, Shakespeare's title refers to New Years Day.

Food and drink are the center of this celebration. A special alcoholic punch called wassail is consumed especially on Twelfth Night, but throughout Christmas time, especially in the UK. Around the world, special pastries, such as the tortell and king cake are baked on Twelfth Night, and eaten the following day for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrations.

What's the connection? Look for reversals (of fortune, as well as gender), drunken revelry (particularly Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek), and a general misrule or mayhem that occurs.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is one of his most loved comedies. Many of his comedies rely on the mistaken identity shtick, as well as the cross-dressing shtick. These elements are taken from the Roman comedies and commedia traditions. Other shtick's or stereotypical characters include the pining lover, the wise fool, and the foolish master. In any case, there's mishaps, misrule, and bawdy drunkenness in this playful play. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Full Length Play Project - The Scenario

You are going to write a full-length play as a culmination and final writing assignment of this class (due in January). To prepare an idea and get you started, please create a working scenario for this project.

Your scenario should be modeled after the chapters given to you in previous handouts: Structure (part one) and Structure (part two) from Naked Playwriting by William Downs and Robin Russin. Follow the steps below to create your working scenario:

1. brainstorm premises or ideas for a play. Use your journal. Jot down ideas, topics, characters, plots, themes, settings, etc. that you will want to write about. Start with the prompt: "I want to write about..." and try to finish the sentence. You can be as sketchy or precise as you feel you need to be at this stage.

2. Decide on a style. Do you want to write a comedy, tragedy, drama? Do you want to be realistic, absurdist, expressionistic, epic, etc.? (We are going to be covering these styles in class.) Either way, you should plan your play as a full length play (full length one act, two-act, three-act, four-act, or five-act play).

3. When you have decided (or not decided at this stage--remember you can always change your mind), flesh out and write a working scenario. Your scenario should include the following information (to be turned in to me by Dec. 12). (by the way, feel free to write more than one scenario and get the advice of friends or teachers which one would be best...the more you do, I'll reward with extra credit).

4. For help, use the handout given to you as a model. For ideas, consider the plays we have (and will) read.

5. Your scenario needs to include:
a. a working title
b. a place
c. a setting (description of)
d. a time
e. a cast of characters. Each character should have a brief description or goal in mind.
f. a list of possible acts
g. a list of possible scenes
h. a breakdown of each scene (or act) and which characters are involved and what their action might be in that scene. (Please break your scenes or acts down into rough French scenes).

Remember that nothing is set in stone. Anything can change during the writing process. You will, however, need to have a plan to write a longer work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf

Please check out Ntosake Shange's choreo-poetic full-length one-act play from the library.

Read the play for Monday, Dec. 8. Be prepared to discuss the play's theme, its style, its structure, and how it differs from the plays we have read so far. As you read, fill out an index card with questions about the text or play, observations you noted while reading the play text, or personal comments about the play text and/or language. Your index card should be turned in with your name on it on Dec. 8 at the beginning of class.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged)

Today we are going to watch the comedy The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged). As you watch, consider how individually, each scene is little more than a skit, but taken together, the comedy works as a united whole. This play is particularly popular. What may be some reasons why?

Structure: Creativity, Scenario & Writing - test

Thursday (Dec. 4) you will have a quiz on the homework reading, the chapter: "Structure, Part Two: Creativity, Scenario, and Writing" from the book Naked Playwriting by William Downs and Robin Russin.

The first part of the chapter can be broadened to include poetry and prose writing, not just playwrighting. For those of you who are consistently having trouble writing, this advice may help.

You should know the following from your reading:

What is creativity and how does it happen?
What is technique?
When should you be creative and when you should be critical?
How to avoid creative roadblock and other problems.
What "failure" is in writing.
What is the "scenario" and what's it good for?
How to title your play.
What is an act?
What is a scene?
What is a French scene?
What is the 3 act play?
What is the 2 act play?
What is the full-length One Act play?
What are short one-acts and 10 minute plays?
How to create your play's environment.
The thing that must not be named (theme).
Advice to writers about writing.

Additionally, you should review the meaning of the following terms:
Plot, character, diction (word choice), thought (theme), spectacle, music (song). The inciting incident (point of attack), the event, the dark moment, the major dramatic question, conflict, crises, complication, rising action, enlightenment (ephiphany), climax, catharsis, protagonist, antagonist, comedy, tragedy, drama, etc.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Playwrights' Festival Tonight!

Tonight and tomorrow the Playwrights' Festival will be performing in the Black Box Theatre (7:00). For playwrights' whose work is being presented, your attendance is mandatory. For classmates in the playwriting class, you must attend at least one of the shows (tonight or tomorrow). Tickets for playwrights' are free. Other audience members are $5.00. The Improv Troupe will be performing before and after our show. Their tickets are $2.00.

The improv troupe has asked us to answer the following questions. Please answer these on a separate sheet of paper and send to our shared file (in Playwriting so that our printer can have a rest.)

Please answer these questions:
A statement you should never say to your mother:

Somewhere you’d never like to be left alone:

A category that should never be used on Jeopardy:

If there were no fire what would you use to keep you warm?

If you could vacation in any year in history what would it be?

The most dangerous occupation that you can think of:

Where would be the ideal place to go on a date?

What are you holding in your hands?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What is that on your head?

Your answers may be used during the Improv show this weekend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Exit - No Exit

Please complete your reading of No Exit.

To turn in: For each character, identify their major goal or motivation in the play. For each character, determine whether or not the character obtains that particular goal.

Then, please post a short personal response to the play.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No Exit

Today we will be reading No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre. A little information before you begin:

Jean-Paul Sartre (21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy.

In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but declined it stating: "It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize winner. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form."

He is one of last century's greatest existentialists (the branch of philosophy that seeks to answer the question: what is the meaning of life?) As you read, consider Sartre's answer. For modern humans, he may be right.

No Exit is Sartre's best known play. Only one act, the play epitomizes the value of creating characters in conflict. Each character: Garcin, Estelle, and Inez are perfectly balanced to challenge each other. This is conflict. Each of your characters in a play should act as antagonist to another character. The best plays have characters who are at once dynamic and also protagonists and antagonists at different moments. No Exit is a great example of this theatrical tool in motion.

Here's an essay on the play. Please read this before you begin.

(This document was originally published in Dionysus in Paris. Wallace Fowlie. New York: Meridian Books, Inc., 1960. p. 173-5.)

JEAN Paul Sartre's No Exit was first performed at the Vieux-Colombier in May 1944, just before the liberation of Paris. Three characters, a man and two women, find themselves in hell, which for them is a living-room with Second Empire furniture. Each of the characters needs the other two in order to create some illusion about himself. Since existence, for Sartre, is the will to project oneself into the future--to create one's future--the opposite of existence, where man has no power to create his future, his hell. This is the meaning of the Sartrean hell in the morality play No Exit. Garcin's sin had been cowardice, and in hell he tries to use the two women, who are locked up forever with him in the same room, under the same strong light, as mirrors in which he will see a complacent and reassuring picture of himself.

This play, an example of expert craftmanship so organized that the audience learns very slowly the facts concerning the three characters, is Sartre's indictment of the social comedy and the false role that each man plays in it. The most famous utterance in the play, made by Garcin, when he says that hell is other people, is, in the briefest form possible, Sartre's definition of man's fundamental sin. When the picture a man has of himself is provided by those who see him, in the distorted image of himself that they give back to him, he has rejected what the philosopher has called reality. He has, moreover, rejected the possibility of projecting himself into his future and existing in the fullest sense. In social situations we play a part that is not ourself. If we passively become that part, we are thereby avoiding the important decisions and choices by which personality should be formed.

After confessing her sins to Garcin, Inès acknowledges her evil and concludes with a statement as significant as Garcin's definition of hell. She needs the suffering of others in order to exist. The game a man plays in society, in being such and such a character, is pernicious in that he becomes caught in it. The viscosity of such a social character is the strong metaphor by which Sartre depicts this capital sin and which will end by making it impossible for man to choose himself, to invent himself freely. The drawing-room scene in hell, where there is no executioner because each character tortures the other two, has the eeriness of a Gothic tale, the frustration of sexuality, the pedagogy of existentialist morality. The least guilty of the three seems to be Garcin, and he suffers the most under the relentless intellectualizing and even philosophizing of Inès. At the end of the play, Garcin complains of dying too early. He did not have time to make his own acts. Inès counters this (she has an answer to everything, Garcin is going to say) with the full Sartrean proclamation: "You are nothing else but your life."

No further argument seems possible after this sentence, and the play ends three pages later when the full knowledge of their fate enters the consciousness of the three characters and Garcin speaks the curtain line: "Well, well, let's get on with it. . . ." This ultimate line which, paradoxically, announces the continuation of the same play, was to be echoed ten years later in the concluding line of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The two plays bear many resemblances both structurally and philosophically.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Colored Museum Project & Miss Julie Test

Your 2-5 page scripts are due at the end of class today. The class chose the theme: death. How cheerful!

A quick note of advice about skits vs. plays:
Skits are often drawn from real-life experiences or rather the focus of the skit is often on the mundane, minor aspects of human life or popular culture. Plays tend toward more over-arching broad human themes (such as death).

After you complete your quiz on Miss Julie, please complete your 2-5 page script with a death theme. No homework.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Colored Museum Activity

Gather together as a group. Select one person to act as coordinator. This person should make sure everyone in the group has had a chance to talk and brainstorm ideas.
One or two people should act as recorders (secretaries) and write down ideas the group presents.

Use the nomative technique to go around the group and brainstorm ideas. Coordinators should make sure that everyone has had an opportunity to speak.

Your task:
1. come up with a contemporary theme that the group will write about. In The Colored Museum, the theme deals with African-American identity.
2. After the group agrees on a contemporary theme to explore, brainstorm ideas for skits. Members of the group should jot down the ideas they like.
3. After brainstorming ideas for skits and having a few ideas floating around, go back to your computer stations and write your skit.
4. The skit should be between 2-5 typed pages - in proper playwrighting format.
5. Turn in your skit Thursday at the end of class.
6. Complete Miss Julie for Thursday. There will be a quiz.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Colored Museum & Miss Julie

Plays, plays, plays. Plays can take the shape of many different types and styles. Sometimes the play is political, other times it is "a slice of life," with little more meaning than allowing people to look at their lives.

However, just as it is impolite to discuss politics and religion at a dinner party, some plays have an axe to grind, take a specific position on an issue, and explore controversy or important societal issues quite nicely. Some plays try to shock and move an audience into action, or help change a person's mind. Afterall, it takes quite a bit of persuasion to make a change in the world. And that is what playwrights' want -- change!


Here's two plays. Both controversial in their own times. Each "shocking" in their exploration of "truth."

Please complete The Colored Museum in class. Please read Miss Julie as homework. Be prepared for a test on Monday.

As always, look for the MDQ. As you read Miss Julie, pay attention to the use of the three characters (and thier goals), the theme, the use of the unities, and the social message.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2 minute play - skit exercise

Choose one of the following settings:

A bank lobby
A truck stop
A dentist's office (waiting room)
Cheerleading camp
A boiler room
A voting booth
A news anchor desk
An office cubicle
The food court of a mall
An executive's office

Choose two of the following characters (for each character, determine their goal or motivation before writing)

A fireman
The boss
Jose "Lupe" Rodriguez
Doctor Padine
A mother
Mrs. Fitts
Mr. Gorgalski
An accountant
[student's choice] - may only choose this option once

Situation: Choose one:

1. A declaration of love
2. A secret
3. A need to confront/expose a mistake or problem
4. A need to fit in
5. An interruption

Using a location, situation, and two characters, create a quick play "skit" (no more than 2 pages) - plan to turn this in at the end of class.

The Mystery of Irma Vep Response

Please respond to the play "The Mystery of Irma Vep" by Charles Ludlum.

Remember that your responses should show critical thinking - what caught your attention as a new playwright? How might you use this script as an example for your own writing? What unique or clever ideas does the script hold? What character(s) was most compelling to you and why? Comment on the staging or the MDQ (major dramatic question).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Baltimore Waltz - Response

Please respond and comment on the play Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel.

You may wish to comment on the characters, the theme, the plot, the use of the third actor, the staging, or the writing. What major dramatic question is being asked? Is the play satirical or political? What human lesson are we to learn from reading (or seeing) this play? What surprised you, what interested you, what did you learn about playwriting from reading this play? Etc.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Baltimore Waltz - Part One

Get into two groups of six today. Read the biographical information about Paula Vogel, "about the play", the playwrights' notes, and the letter from Vogel's brother, which was the inspiration for the play's idea.

Begin reading the script. Assign parts with the members of your group. Read the play aloud, so that you hear the dialogue spoken (as it is meant to be).

Stop after each scene and discuss any of the following:
1. The inciting incident
2. The protagonist's goals
3. The antagonist
4. The conflict
5. The importance of setting
6. The rising action/complications (how do these complicate the protagonists' goals?)
7. The crisis/dark moment
8. The enlightenment/epiphany
9. The climax
10. The denouement/the epiphany

Driving Miss Daisy - Personal Comments

Please make one or more of the following comments regarding Driving Miss Daisy (please post your comments to this website):

I don't understand...

I was reminded of...

I think...

I'm surprised that...

I'd like to know...

I realized...

If I were...

The central issue(s) here is (are)...

One consequence of ______ could be...

I noticed...

I wonder...

If ________, then...

I'm not sure...

Although it seems...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Driving Miss Daisy

Please check out and read Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry. Complete the reading of the play by next class (Monday, Oct. 27).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Night Mother - Discussion & Response

With a partner, discuss and complete the following questions to hand in:

1. What is the essential EVENT that occurs in Night Mother? (one act plays often deal with only one essential event; two act, three act, four act or five act plays deal with two or more.)

2. Who do you consider the play's protagonist; who is the antagonist?

3. Identify the INCITING INCIDENT in the play. What event brings Jessie and Mama into the action of the play?

4. Identify the MAJOR DRAMATIC QUESTION that an audience must ask in the play?

5. What is the conflict of the play? Is this conflict the same for Jessie as it is for Mama?

6. What episodes, complications, or rising action occurs in the play? (name 3)

7. What do you consider to be the crises or dark moment of the play?

8. What would you consider to be Jessie or Mama's ENLIGHTENMENT or EPIPHANY?

9. What is the climax of the play?

10. How does the MDQ (Major Dramatic Question) resolve? Is this a satisfying ending?


Please post your personal response to the play below.

Example prompts (pick one or more to respond to):

Is the play relevant in contemporary society? What did you realize after reading this play? Would you like to act or see this play performed? What aspect about the play did you learn something from: what did you learn about playwriting from the play? Do you think the characters are realistic or well drawn? Which character do you identify with most? Etc.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Night Mother

We are going to read Night Mother today.

1. Go to the library and pick up a copy of Marsha Norman's play Night Mother.

2. Get into groups of 3.

3. Each member of the group should read aloud, playing the part of Jessie, Mama, or the Stage Directions.

4. As you read, discuss as a group the following:

--The inciting incident
--Conflict (conflict needs to include a character's desire/goal + obstacle = conflict)
--The rising action (what is at stake for the characters; how does this change or not change?)
--The crisis (or dark moment)
--The climax
--The resolution
--What TRUTH is Marsha Norman dealing with in the play?
--The Unities: how does Marsha Norman keep the play going for so long with just one set and two characters? What tactics do her characters use to keep each other on stage?
--What kind of catharsis do you experience as a reader?

Playwrights' Festival - Save the Date!

Our annual Playwrights' Festival will occur on November 21 & November 22, in the Black Box Theatre, 7:00.

The show has been cast and is rehearsing. Playwrights should plan on attending the next two weeks of their show's rehearsal to help their actors.

Jeepers, creepers, where did you get those ideas?

“Creativity is 1/10 inspiration, 9/10 perspiration.”

Your writing doesn’t just spring up from the ground
No muse waves a magic wand and inspires you
Writing is work. Period.
How to start

1. Start with a situation.
• Describe an event, an action, or thing happening
• Ask the question “What if…?” or “What happens when…?”
• Think of a setting, and an action or happening in that setting. Complicate the simple action with a problem (a but, whoops, suddenly, or uh oh!)
• Take the time to brainstorm. Think about the situation and how it started, how it continued, how it ended. Take notes in your journal. Outline your situation.
• As you think about your situation, you will also find you are thinking about character and what the action means (theme). Jot those ideas down!

2. Start with a character.
• Begin with a fictional, real, or historical person. Envision who this person is and what this person WANTS (their goal).
• Steal a composite of various people you know, have read about, even yourself.
• Create situations and/or other characters to STOP your character from achieving their goal – this is your conflict.
• In your journal jot down overheard conversations, quotes, and what you imagine your character saying and doing.

3. Start with a theme.
• Some plays start with a germinal idea
• Pick a personal belief about the world, or an issue that you are interested in finding more about – jot down your feelings and thoughts about the topic.
• Start with a statement… “This I believe__________”
• Research your theme so that you confirm or deepen your understanding of the subject.
• Think about characters who might share your vision. Write about them and what opposed them.

4. Cheat
• Borrow ideas from other writers, books, newspapers, etc.

A few DON’T’s

1. Don’t judge your play until it’s written and/or performed.
2. Don’t search for originality. Shakespeare stole his ideas, you can too! What’s important is CHARACTER!
3. Don’t forget to use your notes and journal as a starting place to brainstorm

Drama - Defined!

Drama: (Greek for “To act”)
“An imitation of an action” – Aristotle
Drama—written and performed—is the reproduction of people performing actions. People doing!

In good narrative one action causes another action which causes another action, etc.

The plot, then, is simply an order of actions which hopefully affect a viewing audience.

Drama should not show people in rest or inaction – this is boring.

Drama should focus on the actions of people rather than the actions or problems that happen to people.

Drama then = people doing things which cause other people to act
A conflict of people, ideas and wills that must rise to a resolution
A contest of opposing forces (conflict)
Imitated actions which tell a story

Journal Activity:

1. Find a story in the news that is still ongoing (an election campaign, a war, a murder trial, a custody battle, the Rochester City School District budget problems, etc.)
2. Identify the conflicts involved (both large and small)
3. What dramatic questions surround the story?
4. What is at stake for the “actors” in the drama (politicians, parents, children, defendants, etc.)
5. Make a list of all the possible outcomes for this ongoing conflict
6. What will the struggles and their outcomes tell you about the people involved and our world in general once the conflict is concluded?

Aristotle's Poetics - A Helpful Guide for Playwrights

Aristotle’s Poetics

Plays need the following six elements:

Action or Plot
--often what the audience remembers most
--Actions should cause a “reaction”
--“Activities” are simply dramatic “busy work” – (a fist fight, a shouting match, etc.)
--In shorter plays, focus on one main action (one act)
--Longer plays may have more than one action (two acts, three acts, etc.)
--Action should lead to a climax (a confrontation between the protagonist and

--Most important for a playwright
--Characters must keep an audience interested
--Characters should have a purpose and motivation to be effective in a scene or play
--Characters should “act”
--Give characters concrete (not abstract) goals
--Characters should change (become dynamic characters)
--Create characterization by what a character says and does; about what other characters
say about the character
--Your protagonist should be “struggling for something” (Pro-Agonize)
--Test out your characters: Are they interesting to YOU?

Thought or Idea (theme)
--Something of value for the audience to think about (often abstract)
--It is not the quality of the idea that matters most, but rather the quality of the
ideas depicted by the actions (i.e. character’s actions) of the play
--A play is short relatively, so ideas need not be grandiose and terribly complex
--Use your own personal/societal/spiritual concerns
--Failing that, use the audiences personal/societal/spiritual concerns
--Characters may state the idea overtly – in speeches, dialogue, directly to the audience
--Or the actions of the characters lead the audience to understand the theme
--Don’t (always) hit your audience over the head with the “idea” stick

Language, diction or verbal expression (dialogue)
--Good dialogue will tell the audience what it needs to know: the setting, time, period,
place, character, conflict, theme, etc.
--Allow language to emphasize the “verb” – allow it to be active
--Language must tell what has happened (exposition), what is happening (action), and
what may happen (a promise to the audience)

Music or song
--Not just for musicals, think about imagery, tone, alliteration, and the sounds of the
--Sometimes, the use of music can be very powerful or add to the conflict of the

Spectacle, image or visual adornment
--Whatever looks neat on stage (a sword duel, costumes, elaborate sets, any traveling
Broadway show…etc.)
--Bare stages are good for fewer distractions
--A lot of spectacle can make a badly written play better…slightly….

Brief Summary of Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle’s Poetics (circa 330 B.C.E.)

1. People like to imitate and learn.
2. Arts (Epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, flute-playing, lyre playing) are all modes of imitation. Just as color and form are used by artists, the voice, language, and harmony are used singularly or in combination. IE. Theatrical arts are REPRESENTATIVE of reality, not reality in and of themselves.
3. Objects of imitation should be above our common ilk; characters in a play/subject matter should be of high quality (and scope).
4. Poetry soon broke into two parts: tragedy/comedy. Serious poets would write about serious subjects; Humorous poets would write about frivolous and happy subjects.
5. Tragedy originated out of the dithyramb (choral ode); Comedy out of phallic songs.
6. Aeschylus limited his chorus, introduced the “second” actor, and made the dialogue take the leading part of the play.
7. Sophocles introduced the third actor.
8. As tragedy deals with noble subjects, comedy imitates men worse than average.
9. Tragedy is different from epic (although both are serious) in length, in one kind of verse (narrative form); epic includes tragedy, but tragedy does not necessarily include epic.
10. Aristotle’s six parts of a play:
a. Plot
b. Character
c. Theme (Idea)
d. Spectacle
e. Melody
f. Language (diction)
11. Plays should have a beginning, middle, end
12. Plays should not include so much as to bore, or too little
13. It is better in a tragedy for a good person to come to ruin, rather than a bad person
14. It is better to create catharsis from language and plot, rather than spectacle
15. Characters should have a discovery (peripety) (plural peripeties)
16. The chorus should act together as a “character” and integral to the whole
17. Characters should act according to verisimilitude (semblance of reality).
18. Diction should be clear, correct, poetic, but not inessential.
19. Plot should be made up of probable events
20. The poet, being an imitator (like a painter) must represent things either as they are, or as they are said to be, or as they ought to be – which is accomplished by skillful use of language to create a catharsis in the viewer of a play.

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...