ex-POSITION, EXPO-sition

Dramatic Exposition and its applications for actors, directors, writers

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Start with 200X Drama pages for 6 Principles by Aristotle and other basics! * Dramatic COMPOSITION * Situation * Conflict * Character * Action * Genre

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I intend to keep each topic as a separate page, which could be accessed on its own. The Lab Theatre is a new site and I hope the responses from the students and visitors can help me to redesign the structure in the future.
Please, give your feedback; email me with your suggestions, remarks, corrections -- to theglobe or my main UAF account. Thanks. Anatoly

THE BEGINNING

EXPOSITION is perhaps 50% of your success. Very often in class we have to go back to the very beginning, because it's impossible to fix the ending or the climax without re-working the exposition.

What do we need to ESTABLISH in order to have spectators engaged in action?
In Acting One class I call it 5 W's: WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, WHAT.

WHO is your character? (His/her personal history)

WHEN does it take place? (Time of the day, season, historical period)

WHERE? (Place, location)

WHAT does take place? (Conflict)

WHY? (Motivation)

All five are interconnected: by developing your character's personal background you are preparing me for undersdtanding his motivations; defining the time-frame, you give me hints about his/her social psychology; shaping the the conflict, you discover the inner conflict.

The same applies to a director. "To establish" means to make it visible, to show it. Not only you have to know it, but I have to see it.

All of the above is so obvious, it's hard to notice - did we really do the job? "Is the exposition over?" "Not yet?" "When is it over?" "Now?" We go through the beginning of a scene or a monologue many times, we have to know that we are done with the exposition.... Otherwise, we can't go further! We have to stop, because we do not have a major player on board -- the public.

do not assume anything!

Question everything! Did I EXPRESS it? Was it the most economical, most effective way? How would they "read" it? What other meanings can be derived from this gesture, movement, action? Hamlet Read the play!
HAMLET. Artist B. Bezugly
from "St. Petersburg Theatre 1992-94"

See RAT Files


The Opening

You understand why Hamlet is not the first on stage for us to see -- we are not ready.

Not ready for what?
Story?
Hero?
What about our "5 Ws"? Was it enough?...

What does this first page (see text on Directing Page) try to establish?

There are two more categories we must introduced --

GENRE

and

STYLE

They belong to two different sets of laws. Where are they in Aristotle's classification?

The Greeks knew only two genres: TRAGEDY and COMEDY. Here comes the difficult round -- we know as "DRAMA." Could Chekhov or Beckett be both tragedy and comedy? This issue of theory causes a lot of problems in class. Unless actor or director knows how to separate and define one and another, he will end up with none. Select one ONLY! Is it a comedy? No? When is it comical?

You see, in order for us to start the storytelling we have to follow a simple formula Aristotle offered for tragedy (ends with the death of hero) and comedy (happy end). We can't skip it in exposition. The first page offers the suspense of danger and fear. Is there a chance that "Hamlet" could be a comedy?

It's a matter of STYLE (see definitions in GLOSSARY). We can and must have our own "reading" (interpretation) of the texts in order to perform, but style is a category of texture (In fact, I advise you to consider "Music" in Aristotle's classification as "melody" or "style").

What is important for us in structural terms is the SITUATION. We have to have it in order for characters to react. The return of the dead Hamlet-father is this situation. It brings in the big story.

If you didn't get them in your first couple minutes on stage, you will spend ten times more energy later. If you lost them, you have to start it all over! Do you believe in love at the first sight? Do you know the power of first impression? Do you realize the importance of the first right and wrong?

Do you have your own style in acting? What is "my" style? The moment you have it, you're a star. No, not the way you move or speak (it's habitual), but the way you EXPRESS emotions, the way you PRESENT the inner life of our soul.

Summary

Questions

Is an exposition for a character different from the play's exposition?

What about the characters that appear late in the plot?

What about the introductions of new themes? Subplots?

Homework

Find the exposition in your monologue. How would I know that the exposition is over? Write down the tasks of your exposition. Use the online monologues.

Notes

Must be done in the Actor's Text Format!

Could the first line of the Inpector General be considered as the play's exposition?

Your favorite expositions. Use movies, too.

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