Chapter 1&2 question
1. Locate as many theatre venues in your area as you can—professional, amateur, college theatres.
Also, locate theatres that may be in nearby cities or towns. (The Internet can be helpful in this
2. Find out the size and shape of the theatres you have identified in your area and surrounding
3. Learn what kinds of productions each of the theatres presents: musicals, comedies, classics,
new plays, and so forth.
4. Make plans to attend a production at one or more of the nearby theatres.
Chapter 2 Question
1. When you are attending a theatrical performance, the following are questions for you, as an
individual audience member, to consider. a. Is the audience a homogeneous group—similar in
background and attitude—or a diverse one? b. Is the event being presented primarily by and for a
particular group—cultural, social, gender, or political? How do you relate to that group? c. If it is a
serious event, is the audience concentrating and empathizing with what is happening on stage? If
the event is comic, is the audience caught up in the amusement and laughter?
2. Read a review online by a New York Times or Chicago Tribune theatre critic. Which of the critical
criteria discussed in this chapter does he or she address? How did the critic help you decide
whether you might want to see the production?
3. A theatre critic in New York was so disturbed by an audience member texting throughout a
performance that he grabbed the spectator’s cell phone and threw it into the aisle of the theatre.
Was this response appropriate? Explain why or why not.
Chapter 3 Questions
1. If you were to write a play about your life, what would you choose as your opening scene?
What would some of your complications be? Would there be a climactic moment?
2. Pick a play you have seen or read. Tell in your own words the story which the play is
dramatizing. In the full story, what moments or scenes did the dramatist leave out when turning
the story into a drama?
3. After watching a popular film, describe how the opening scene aids in setting the action.
Describe one or two of the complications in the film. Can you discuss the film’s point of view?
4. Describe the theatrical elements in a religious or family ritual.
1. Think of a play or musical you have seen or read where two major characters are in conflict with
one another. Describe the two characters and explain the source of their conflict. How does it play
2. During the last performance you attended, did the action take place in one locale (one room, for
instance) or, instead, in three or four locations? Did the action move frequently, returning at times to
a former location? What effect did these elements of location have on your experience of the play?
3. Look at the cast of characters in a Shakespearean play you have seen or read. Place each
character in a category: major character; minor character; or a character in between—that is, a
character with a clear personality but not a large role. Which characters are in opposition to one
another? Which characters in the play dominate in the struggle? Is there a reversal of their
4. While you are watching a modern play or drama involving a small group of characters locked in a
struggle for dominance or control, how does the action develop? Is one person first in the
ascendency and then another? What do shifts of power and control have to do with revealing the
personalities of the characters? What do these changes have to do with the meaning of the play?
Chapter 4 Questions
1. What recent event in everyday life has been described as a “tragedy”? Would that event meet the
traditional definition of tragedy? Does it have the elements of traditional tragedy?
2. Is there a contemporary figure whose life you believe could be dramatized as a “modern
3. Have you seen a film or television show that could be categorized as “domestic drama”? What
are its characteristics that lead you to that categorization?
4. Have you seen a recent film that you would categorize as a “melodrama”? What are its
characteristics that lead you to that categorization?
5. Have you seen films or television shows that could be categorized as farce, burlesque, satire,
domestic comedy, comedy of manners, comedy of characters?
6. Can you describe any current events that might be dramatized as tragicomedy? Why?
1. A play by Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, Lorraine Hansberry, or August
Wilson might be set in a time fifty years ago or 100 years ago. What do you think it is about these
dramas that allow audience members in the twenty-first century to identify strongly with the
characters and the situations in the play?
2. Which kind of play do you prefer: a classic tragedy, a serious contemporary drama, a knockabout
farce, a comedy, a musical? Can you explain why you prefer one type over the others?
3. Do you favor a play with a strong story line, a tight plot, and unexpected twists and turns? Or do
you prefer a looser play that reflects the randomness of everyday life? What do you think attracts
you to these characteristics?
Chapter 5 Questions
1. Read a speech from Shakespeare aloud in class or to yourself. Why would this speech be difficult
for an actor? What are some of the challenges an actor would face in bringing this speech to life?
2. Remember a situation recently that made you happy. Re-create the circumstances in your mind.
Where were you? Whom were you with? Can you once again feel the emotions you felt during that
situation? Is this similar to an acting exercise developed by Stanislavski?
3. Make a fist. Now make it tighter and tighter. Does it change how you are feeling emotion- ally?
Does this help you understand how an actor might approach developing an emotional moment in a
4. Analyze why you felt a recent film performance was successful. Describe how the main
performer brought his or her character to life.
5. Attend a rehearsal at your university or community theatre. Then attend the final performance.
What changes were made between the rehearsal and the performance by one of the actors in the
production? Explain how the change affected the performance.
1. What is the most convincing performance you’ve seen, where you felt the actor on stage was
really the person being portrayed? What was it about the performance that made it believable? In
contrast, what was the least convincing and effective performance you have seen? Explain why this
2. In Shakespearean and other classic plays, the actors often speak in verse. In what way are the
various vocal techniques described in this chapter important to actors in preparing to play a role in
this kind of play and in the performance itself?
3. Identify a scene in a play in which two, three, or four actors are locked in conflict. What can
individual actors do to hold the attention of the audience and make their actions and feelings
convincing? How do you think these actors can best prepare for conflict scenes?
4. Read either Miss Julie or A Doll’s House, both of which are available online. What kinds of
background information would the actors in these plays need to know? What are the physical
attributes actors would need to create for some of the key characters? Choose one scene and one
character and discuss what is motivating the character. How might you employ some of
Stanislavski’s concepts in order to bring the character to life?
Chapter 6 Question
1. Have you ever had to pick someone for a team or for a job? How did you go about making your
choice? Is that similar to casting in the theatre? Why? Why not?
2. Have one of your classmates read a short speech from a play. Ask her or him to change the pace
or rhythm of delivery. What terms or phrases did you use to make this request? Were your
directions understood? How did the change in pace or rhythm affect the delivery of the speech and
its impact on those listening?
3. Observe how one of your instructors interacts with the class through his or her movement. How
does this movement affect the way in which the class material is delivered? Does your observation
of this provide you any insight into the importance of stage blocking?
4. Ask if you can attend a technical rehearsal or dress rehearsal at your university theatre. What
insights did you gain from attending those rehearsals?
1. Imagine that while you are watching a production, one performer is overacting badly, to the point
that he or she is quite unbelievable. Another performer is listless and has no energy. In each case,
to what extent do you think this is the director’s fault, and to what extent the performer’s failure?
2. If you get bored or impatient when watching a performance, what do you think the director could
have done in preparing the production to prevent this from happening?
3. Is it fair to say, as some critics do, that when everything “clicks” in a production; that is, when the
acting, the scenery and lighting, and the pace of the action all seem to be beautifully coordinated—
the director’s hand is “invisible”?
4. If you have read a play this semester (or sometime in the past), what do you think the spine of
that play is? What would your directorial concept be if you were directing a production of that play
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