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Transcript of Melodrama!
Plot & Structure
Melodramas always have simple moral plots, where the story would show a struggle between good and evil, weak and strong and would conclude with the restoration of a morally correct and just society. It is a dramatisation of moraility.
A traditional melodrama plot would include the following three elements:
Provocation: the initial cause for setting action into motion – jealousy or greed forces an evil character to plan an offence.
Pangs: the consequential sufferings of the good and innocent characters who are caught up in the evil plot.
Penalty: in a last minute twist of fate, the wicked character has their plans foiled and receives a punishment for his/her evil actions
Melodrama’s used spectacular settings, stage effects such as showing fires, earthquakes, explosions, real animals, snowstorms etc. It also included elaborate costumes and music to increase their impact and appeal. The plays were always accompanied by music (piano) to heighten the emotional impact on the audience or to signal a particular response.
Lighting included- gas lighting, candles or footlights.
The stage was always a proscuium arch stage. With a backdrop.
Developed into a theatrical style in about 1800 by a French playwright named René de Pixérécourt.
Melodrama - from Melody and Drama, originally the word 'melodrama' simply meant 'drama with music'. It belongs to the Victorian era of Theatre.
Visual form of theatre with stereotypical characters, sensational stage effects and morally just plot lines (virtue triumphing over vice, plot dominating characterization.)
At its most popular in 19th Century.
A form of escapism for the lower class. Presents an idealistic world. It is aimed to be humorous and entertain the audiences.
Placards- Audience participation is encouraged by cue cards and speaking directly to the audience.
Olio's- A short skit, pantomime, burlesque, parody or comic lecture done in between the scenes of the play to fill in time.
Melodrama characters were not meant to be particularly life-like, rather they were meant to have identifiable types of personalities.
- A hero. Handsome, strong, brave, honest and reliable. Status: Middle class or higher
- A heroine. Beautiful, courageous, innocent and vulnerable. Status: Middle class or higher
- A villain. Cunning, without morals, dishonest, cruel and evil. Status: Middle class or higher
- A villain’s accomplice. Usually provides comic relief because he is a bumbling sidekick. Status: Lower class
- A faithful servant. Also provides comic relief, and also does the dirty work. He usually discovers evidence against the villain. Status: Lower class
- A maid servant. A female character who is lively and who flirts with the faithful servant. Status: Lower class
- Aged parents- Elder person usually the parent of the hero or heroine. Status: Middle class or higher
- Exaggeration: This acting style requires strong facial expressions, large movements and gestures, and clear and well-projected delivery of lines. The movements were stylized and particular to certain characters.
Melodrama actors concentrated more on showing emotions rather than feeling them. Actor also over emphasised words or syllables they thought important to their character.
- Asides: an aside is where any character speaks directly to the audience to reveal a thought or plan that is kept secret from the rest of the other characters. The actor’s delivery of the aside should instil a feeling of secrecy and draw the audiences focus away from the other action and onto their ‘secret’.
Hero = dressed in white. Often wore a military uniform or a sailor’s uniform.
Heroine= usually wore a long coloured dress.
Villain = dressed in black.
Male Servant = checked vest and jacket.
Female Servant= light coloured worn out clothing usually a skirt and blouse
Other Acting Conventions
- Audience interaction: Actors encourage audience interaction by improvising lines and telling topical jokes, and would encourage the audience to boo or hiss at the villain.