Most successful playwrights follow the theories of playwriting and drama that were established over two thousand years ago by a man named Aristotle. In his works the Poetics Aristotle outlined the six elements of drama in his critical analysis of the classical Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex written by the Greek playwright, Sophocles, in the fifth century B.C. The six elements as they are outlined involve: Thought, Theme, Ideas; Action or Plot; Characters; Language; Music; and Spectacle. 1. Thought/Theme/Ideas
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What the play means as opposed to what happens (the plot). Sometimes the theme is clearly stated in the title. It may be stated through dialogue by a character acting as the playwright’s voice. Or it may be the theme is less obvious and emerges only after some study or thought. The abstract issues and feelings that grow out of the dramatic action. 2. Action/Plot
The events of a play; the story as opposed to the theme; what happens rather than what it means. The plot must have some sort of unity and clarity by setting up a pattern by which each action initiating the next rather than standing alone without connection to what came before it or what follows. In the plot of a play, characters are involved in conflict that has a pattern of movement. The action and movement in the play begins from the initial entanglement, through rising action, climax, and falling action to resolution. 3. Characters
These are the people presented in the play that are involved in the perusing plot. Each character should have their own distinct personality, age, appearance, beliefs, socio economic background, and language. 4. Language
The word choices made by the playwright and the enunciation of the actors of the language. Language and dialog delivered by the characters moves the plot and action along, provides exposition, defines the distinct characters. Each playwright can create their own specific style in relationship to language choices they use in establishing character and dialogue. 5. Music
Music can encompass the rhythm of dialogue and speeches in a play or can also mean the aspects of the melody and music compositions as with musical theatre. Each theatrical presentation delivers music, rhythm and melody in its own distinctive manner. Music is not a part of every play. But, music can be included to mean all sounds in a production. Music can expand to all sound effects, the actor’s voices, songs, and instrumental music played as underscore in a play. Music creates patterns and establishes tempo in theatre. In the aspects of the musical the songs are used to push the plot forward and move the story to a higher level of intensity. Composers and lyricist work together with playwrights to strengthen the themes and ideas of the play. Character’s wants and desires can be strengthened for the audience through lyrics and music. 6. Spectacle
The spectacle in the theatre can involve all of the aspects of scenery, costumes, and special effects in a production. The visual elements of the play created for theatrical event. The qualities determined by the playwright that create the world and atmosphere of the play for the audience’s eye.