Non-Verbal Terms and Techniques
Dramatis Personae: The list (or cast) of characters usually accompanied by a brief explicit characterisation indicating role, social status, etc.
Acts and Scenes (Structure)
- Act: A major unit (or structural division) of a dramatic text. Many classical plays are divided into five acts; most modern plays have two, to allow for an intermission. Usually, an act consists of a sequence of smaller action units called scenes.
- Scene: An action unit within an act. Usually, transition from one scene to another involves a new stage situation and a fresh episode, marked either by a change in time and/or location, or by an empty stage, or by characters entering or going off stage.
Stage Direction: A descriptive or narrative passage of secondary text (usually set in italics), either (a) describing set, scenery, props, costumes, characters, or (b) recounting events and the behaviour of the characters (such as their movements. In performance, a stage direction can normally be translated into a property or a physical action which is directly perceptible to the audience.
Setting: Suggested by use of simple props and furniture.
Costuming & Makeup: What the characters wear and how they look.
Props : Moveable objects used by characters as part of the dramatic action.
Design Concept: The design concept should clearly support and reinforce the directorial concept, presenting a visual representation of the world of the play. Visual aspects include sets, costumes and lighting. This description will include:
- key images, objects and props (staging)
- colours, textures, lines, shapes and mass
- use of space
- use of light and dark (lighting)
- costume and make up
- the focus on a particular period, style, metaphor for the production.
Characters and Relationships: Characterisation is integral to any dramatic text. Responders should consider:
- a description of the character, their role and status
- the development of significant characters
- their function within the play as a whole
- the motivation and main objectives of characters
- relationships between characters
- physical realisation of characters though movement, stance, gesture and facial expressions
- any specific needs for props or costumes.
- character movement, gestures, body-language, interaction
Lighting: The way lights are used and modified by changing focus, colour or intensity to draw attention to aspects of a production. Lightning is integral to create tone and can also be used to create symbolism.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: 'The Fourth Wall' is an imaginary wall separating the audience from the action on the stage. 'Breaking the fourth wall' involves the characters directly addressing and acknowledging the audience, whether they break character or perform with an awareness of being watched. It is made clear that the characters and their actions are not real and the audience are aware that they are witnessing fiction.
Entrance and Exits: It is important to notice when characters exit and enter a scene. Pay particular attention to what is being said as they enter or what they say as they leave.
Symbolism: When an object is used to represent something else, e.g. a broken vase may symbolise a broken relationship.