The Fundamentals of Drama

There are a number of fundamental qualities that need to be inexistence for drama to be created. This section highlights some of the critical elements that are typically part of a dramatic or a theatrical performance. Different types of performances emphasise different elements.

Three Basic Elements for Theatre to be Produced:
It can be argued that there are three basics elements that must be present in any performance.

1. Something that is performed.
This might be a formal script or it could be a general scenario or even just a basic plan or sketch of what is going to happen. Many different types of activities can be regarded as ‘Performance’. If a performance adheres to certain principles of form and style, audiences can easily identify action as performance rather than spontaneous events. Here is a list of some forms of drama/theatre which you may be familiar with:
Comic routines as seen at Comedy Clubs.
Shakespearian Tragedy performed by the major theatre companies with enormous casts.
New Australian plays performed at La Boite with 5or 6 actors.
like Disney on Ice.
Musical Plays like Les Miserables.
Street Carnivals like the Racecourse Road Fair or the Spring Hill Fair.
Agricultural carnivals like the Brisbane’s EKKA or the Sydney’s Royal Easter Show.
Parades like Brisbane’s Christmas Twilight Parade at South Bank, Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, or Melbourne’s Moomba.

As this list demonstrates, theatre is not always a staged performance of a written text. It does not require a script, dialogue, or even drama. For example, juggling and acrobatic displays can be regarded as theatre but there is no script, no dialogue, and no drama.

2.   The performance
There needs to something that can be identified as a performance. It typically involves many different processes. The creation and presentation of a production often include all or some of the following features:

Set Lighting Costumes
Music Sound effects Actors/Dancers/Singers

All the components should be integrated to create a unified performance piece. Sometimes, however, one overshadows the rest. For example, spectacular stage effects dominate popular musicals like The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Here the music, singing, dancing, and acting are all subordinated to the scenery.

The performance is the site for the transformation of the script, the scenario, or the plan into reality. The normal process for the creation of performance is the fleshing out of a script or plan by applying specific aspects of the theatrical process. The performance must take place in some sort of SPACE. (For some extra reading you should see Peter Brook’s The Empty Space). Performances take place in:

Purpose built theatres Tents Streets Parks Pubs

The size of the space can vary between holding less than 10 or more than 20,000.

3.      The audience
Someone needs to see the performance before it can really be recognised as a performance. Until something is presented before an ‘audience’ we do not usually consider it to be theatre. According to Peter Brook: 
“The only thing that all forms of theatre have in common is the need for an audience”

Audiences affect performances in many ways:

They give feedback to the actors.
Their reactions may influence the performance (eg if one group in the audience starts to laugh at something serious then the rest of the audience may respond in the same way)
  Audiences affect the theatre through their expectations and motives for attending. For example, some people attend theatre to be distracted from their everyday lives—such people expects the playwright and director to spell everything out for them—they don’t want to work too hard at the theatre. Such spectators may resent productions that question conventional moral, political, or cultural values. Other audience members may prefer productions that challenge accepted values, raise provocative issues, and use innovative theatrical techniques.