Drama

D
RAMA

32
Reading a Play
In many parts of the country, students rarely if ever see plays other than school or other
amateur productions, and the instructor may encounter some resistance to the whole idea
of studying drama. But all students are steeped in film and television drama, and it may
be useful to point out that such drama begins with playscripts. One might reason some-
what like this. Movies and television, it’s true, give plays hard competition in our society,
and a camera does have advantages. In moments, film can present whole panoramas and
can show details in close-up that theaters (with their cumbersome sets and machinery)
cannot duplicate. Movies used to be called “photoplays,” but the name implies an unnec-
essary limitation, for there is no point in confining the camera to recording the contents of
a picture-frame stage. But a play—whether staged in a proscenium theater or in a parking
lot—has its own distinct advantages. It is a medium that makes possible things a camera
cannot do. Unlike movies and television, a play gives us living actors, and it involves
living audiences who supply it with their presences (and who can move one another to
laughter or to tears). Compared, say, to the laughter of live spectators at a comedy, the
“canned” laughter often dubbed into television programs is a weak attempt to persuade
television viewers that they are not alone.
A P
I
E
LAY IN
TS
LEMENTS
Susan Glaspell
T
, page 1199
RIFLES
The recent comeback of
Trifles
may be due, we think, not only to Glaspell’s pioneering
feminist views but also to its being such a gripping, tightly structured play. Whether or not
you have much time to spend on the elements of a play, we think you will find
Trifles
worth teaching; students respond to it.
Topic for writing or discussion: What common theme or themes do you find in both
Trifles
and
Antigonê?
(A conflict between the law and a woman’s personal duty.)
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