Thursday, April 10, 2008

Elements of Theatre

Aristotle points to six elements of tragedy in his momentous work The Poetics. These six pillars have become the basis of all theatre through the ages:

1) Plot
2) Character
3) Thought
4) Diction (speech)
5) Melody
6) Spectacle

Can these apply to things other than theatre? A professional football game certainly has character, spectacle, melody (the National Anthem, music played between game), thought (yes, I know this sounds shocking, but there is strategy behind the play calling at least), and diction (the quarterback calling plays, officials calling penalties). While it is not scripted, does a series of events strung together not constitute a plot?

What about a political debate? It has diction, spectacle, thought, and character for sure. Perhaps a little weaker on melody, perhaps, and the same question applies about what actually constitutes a plot.

Something to think about at least.

Do these elements still apply today? How do they apply to non-theatrical events? If you remove a single element (especially plot), does the piece suddenly loose its theatricality?

If you were to come up with 5-7 essential elements of theatre, what would they be?

1 comment:

  1. I teach these in my intro class.

    I think that while it would be hard to connect all six to something like architecture, they apply to almost any kind of human-interaction based event.

    The reason for this is because theatre derives from worship. The celebration of both the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of our nature.

    Theatre, religion, politics, advertising, marketing, anything that requires human storytelling is dependant on these aspects.