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Transcript of Reading Drama
What do you expect:
From the title? From the first sentence, paragraph, or speech?
After the first events or interactions of characters?
As the conflict is resolved?
Who are the characters? What do you notice about their names or any identification of their roles, character types, or relationships?
Who is/are the protagonists? (hero/heroine)
Who is/are the antagonist(s) (villain/opponent/obstacle)?
Do any characters change over the course of the play? Does the audience's attitude toward them change as well?
With whom do you mosth empathize?
What does each character know at any moment in the action? What does the audience know or expect that is different from what the characters know or expect?
What details in the dialogue indicate what characters are like--in appearance, status, personality, etc.?
What happens in the play?
Is there an exposition--explanation of what happened before the play begins or how the characters have arrived at their present moment?
Is there a central conflict or source of tension? Between what/whom?
Is the conflict resolved? How?
Can you summarize the plot? Is it a recognizable kind or genre such as tragedy, comedy, farce, or mystery?
What is the time of the play? Is it contemporary or set in the past? What do you know about its "historical moment?"
Do the stage directions specify a day of the week, season, time of day?
Are there any time changes over the course of the play? Are the scenes in chronological order? Does time pass over the course of the play?
Where does it take place? Do scenes change over the play? Is this indicated in stage directions or context?
What would an audience see on stage?
Some Basic Questions
"A play in a book is only the shadow of a play and not even a clear shadow of it... The color, the grace and levitation, the structural pattern in motion, the quick interplay of live being, suspended like fitful lightning in a cloud, these things are the play...."
What do you notice about how the play is written?
What is the style of the dialogue? Are the sentences and speeches short or long? Is the vocabulary simple or complex? Do characters ever speak at the same time or do they always take turns? Does the play use silences or pauses for effect?
What is the tone or mood? Does the play make the reader feel sad, cheerful, amused, worried, curious?
What sort of "big questions" does the play raise?
What conclusions might it be asking you to make?
Adapted from the Norton Introduction to Literature, 10th edition, pgs 1383-1384.