2008 : comedy * drama


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... Oedipus * Hamlet *

2009 :

2009 * see T-blog and VT blog ! My places to watch for directing -- Total Director, stagematrix, meyerhold.us + teatr.us for LUL Theatre & stagematrix group [wiki] + cine101

PoMo Tragedy : Beckett and After [ The End of Tragic ]

picasa albums : Oedipus | Hamlet | Godot | "Stoppard"

animoto vid


go4.txt :


* filmplus.org/vtheatre [research] -- Return of Catharsis in new Cyber Universe?

-- blogging pre-production for CALIGARI (2009) @ anatolant.vox.com

Continue Beckett's "Tragedy as Comedy"

Post-postmodernity -- subtext of popular culture (Horrror Movies)

[ Special Topics ]


Virtual Theatre * Theory * Part III * Playscript *

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + american age + space + time + chronotope + direct + event theory + present + sex + past + marxism + shows +
For 2005: Spring -- Oedipus *

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text LINKS

I use Hamlet in all my classes. In fact, I start with Hamlet, since most of them know the story. I directed HamletDreams and using my production web-notebook as a showcase for StageMatrix: Theatre Directing class. Best, go to the script.vtheatre.net; Script Analysis and Dramatic Literature directory. And only after that to acting or directing pages. And read Prof. Nietzsche in your textbook (THR413 -- "Birth of Tragedy").

Tragic is the best of dramatic; no solution, period. We trace it from the Greeks all the way to Beckett or Miller. According to existentialists, our life is tragic, in principle -- and that is what makes us alive and "human." The same with mortality. Tragic hero addresses himself to gods, not mortals. This "dialogue" make us equal to God (and in my opinion higher than gods).

ScriptDirectory -- Checkhov Files: Modern & Postmodern




Analysis -- Drama

Theatre History Page

The content of the pages is lost. Recommended: King Lear and Romeo and Juliete. Interesting case: Don Juan 2003: comedy... tragedy?

Twelfth Night

Shakespeare 2000
Director's Notes




Aristotle and Freud


What is the difference between Tragic and Epic?



What are the functions of the chorus?

Define tragic conflict.

Do you believe in fate?

Are you a tragic figure?

Submit to the Forum your 200 words after reading the play!

HamletDreams 2001: mindscape
2004 *


The Big Three: Tragedy, Comedy, Drama? Genre


Oedipus : This is DramLit "showcase"
* one act fest
... tragedy presents a complete story (an action) that is serious and important (has magnitude and bulk) and is dramatized for presentation on the stage rather than recounted by a narrator. When we come to the last part of the definition, though, there is disagreement. Aristotle says that tragedy produces the emotions of pity and fear but that there is a katharsis of these emotions. One of the translators above calls katharsis a “purgation” of emotions and the other a “purification.”
The Possessed 2003
Aristotle's View of Tragedy:

In his Poetics, Aristotle claims that comedy shows man to be worse than what he is in real life. In tragedy, however, man is represented as better than he is in actual life. He defines tragedy as "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in a language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament . . . in the form of action, not narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, and has as its goal a catharsis of emotions. Thus, he identifies six major features of tragic drama: Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, and Melody.

For Aristotle the most important part of tragedy is the Plot or Action, which is the structure of the incidents. Plot is the very life-blood of tragic drama. Without action, there can be no tragedy, though it is sometimes possible to have a tragedy without character. Any tragic drama must be long enough to depict a reversal, or a change from good fortune to bad in the central figure. It must be so constituted that all its parts combine to form a unified and organic whole.

Character is the second most significant feature; it gives tragedy its moral dimension. The central personage in tragedy must be morally good, of fitting heroic stature, true-to-life, and consistent in action. The change in the fortune of the central figure must be from good to bad, from prosperity and success to adversity and failure. This downfall is often the consequence of a fatal flaw in a character or an error in judgment, which in Greek is called "Hamartia". The failure of the tragic hero/heroine is also due to "hubris" or a false sense of pride in the character's own secure position.

The tragic dramatist must choose suitably heroic characters and place them in a well-constructed plot which aims at the imitation of such actions as will excite pity and fear in the audience. These twin emotions are the distinctive effects that tragedy aims to invoke. The downfall of a noble, well-renowned, prosperous, and basically good person naturally evokes pity "for his/her misfortune;" it also evokes terror or fear that such misfortunes can easily overtake any human. This leads to an effect of catharsis or purging of the very emotions of pity and terror evoked by tragedy. Because of this catharsis, tragedy has a psychological, as well as a social, dimension since it provides an outlet for undesirable emotions.

Aristotle also draws a distinction between simple and complex plots. He states that more profound tragedy ensues when the playwright skillfully manipulates the actions in a complex plot. Complex action achieves its greatest impact through surprises and astounding revelations. The two devices that give tremendous power to the plot are what the Greeks called "peripeteia" and "anagnorisis". Peripeteia is often wrongly translated as a "reversal of fortune". More correctly, it refers to a reversal of the situation, where the action turns towards a direction just the opposite of its original course. Anagnorisis refers to recognition of a person/situation. It is a change from a state of ignorance to one of knowledge, which produces hate among the characters and the final downfall of the central character. Such changes shown through "Peripeteia/Anagnorisis" must be within the limits of probability and produce the effect of dramatic irony.

Finally, the element of noble Thought gives to tragedy its proper intellectual point of reference. Diction is the playwright's choice of appropriate phraseology for effective communication or maximum effect. Melody and Spectacle are useful embellishments in a tragic play and can be quite entertaining for the audience, though sometimes these, especially the element of spectacle, constitute a distraction from the essence of drama. Aristotle's theories must not be interpreted as rigid rules since they were merely observations about contemporary Greek drama. Taken too literally, strict adherence to the Unities has often resulted in a stilted, artificial, and rigid drama which Aristotle would hardly have advocated.

Spring 2005: Oedipus, main stage, Theatre UAF (also, see Pasolini: "Based on the mythical Sophoclean dramas, Pier Paolo Pasolini's powerful film is a faithful retelling of the Oedipus story, framed within a prologue and epilogue set in 1960s Bologna. The tale unfolds in an unidentified desert where, choosing to ignore the warnings of the blind soothsayer, Oedipus (Pasolini regular Franco Citti) sets out on a fateful journey that will see him break the taboos of patricide and maternal incest. Poetic and dream-like, Pasolini's Oedipus Rex boldly tackles its controversial subject matter head on, and stands amongst the finest achievements from one of Italian cinema's leading innovators.") Brecht: Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.

+ HamletDreams 2001 *

tragedy quiz

Aristotle Pages @ 200X : The Poetics -- Structure & Texture

From My Shows

* Beckett : Tragedy as Comedy -- Godot

... Tragedy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nietzsche on Tragedy


Index * Theatre w/Anatoly * Books * Stagematrix.06 * Students * Spectator * Virtual Theatre * Script Analysis * SHOWS * Film Theory * Film Directing * Plays * Write * Web * Classes * Bookmark vTheatre! Mailing List & News -- subscribe yourself * Method Acting for Directors * Acting 101 *


The Greeks

Camus: "More and more, when faced with the world of men, the only reaction is one of individualism. Man alone is an end unto himself. Everything one tries to do for the common good ends in failure." (And this is a definition of tragedy. AA)

A tragedy is a serious play with a theme that is both significant and universal. The central character is a good person of high social status, known as the tragic hero, who becomes trapped in a vortex of events that is sometimes called fate. The hero experiences pain, suffering, and sometimes death in the course of a precipitous tragic fall from elevated status. This "fall from grace" or reversal of fortune is not the result of external forces, but rather from a small but key personality flaw. In the end, the tragic hero acknowledges personal responsibility for the events that have occurred, and this recognition allows him to achieve what might be called enlightenment.

On the news we hear the crash of an airliner described as a tragedy. While such an event is horrifying and certainly sad, it does not meet this strict dramatic definition of the term. The unfortunate victims of such disasters are not directly responsible for their fates. A tragic hero is never a helpless victim. Some of the features that separate tragedy from serious plays that are merely sad or pathetic are that the hero is ultimately responsible for his own problems, is aware of the flaw but has chosen to disregard it, and persists against overwhelming odds. Another distinguishing feature of tragedy is that it asks fundamental questions about the human condition for which there are no simple answers. These universal questions may take the form of a dilemma, one which is faced by those in every culture and each generation. In a tragic dilemma, not matter which choice you make, you suffer. Finally, the purpose of tragedy is not to depict the depressing failure of a well-meaning person, but to dignify and ennoble humankind. We see tragic heroes standing up to the worst that the gods or nature can throw at them, behaving with dignity even in a losing cause. Tragic heroes don't "wimp-out" by blaming others or society itself for their misfortunes like many latter-day protagonists, but take responsibility for their weaknesses and failures. In this way they achieve moral victory. It has been asserted that we live in an age whose world view precludes tragedy--that man has shrunk in his estimation of himself. We see ourselves as commonplace and mean rather than noble. When one considers how many among us would think Oedipus a fool for not getting a good attorney, one wonders if this assertion may be true.

Another aspect of tragedy that was discussed by Aristotle was an effect on the audience which he called catharsis. This term, borrowed from medicine, means to purge or cleanse. He believed that the audience would experience and discharge the emotions of pity and dread; pity for the misfortunes of the hero, and dread that this could happen to them. Furthermore he believed that the communal release of such pent-up emotions was a benefit to society as a whole. In their tragedies the Greeks were the first to grapple publicly with the many problematic 'isms" of society: tribalism, racism, materialism, feminism, and colonialism.

It is useful to make a distinction between classical (traditional) tragedies, and modern tragedies of the last one hundred years. A convenient way to view these distinctions is to compare their Aristotelian elements: the structural components of plot, character, dialogue, theme, music and spectacle. The primary differences are in areas of character and dialogue. In both the classical and modern versions the plots tend to be singular and compact with no secondary or parallel plot lines, which quite naturally favors the climactic plot structure. The central character in both traditional and modern tragedy is intended to be representative--a basically good person the audience can relate to and empathize with. In ancient times leaders were looked upon as possessing the best qualities of mankind, since they were favored by the gods. As such they were worthy models for others and they served as tragic heroes. Today with our egalitarian sensibilities we are more likely to relate to someone who is of the same economic and social class as ourselves, so modern tragedies tend to feature middle class heroes. Both versions have limited casts due to their climactic form. The most obvious difference is in language. Classical tragedies were written in verse. While some adventurous modern playwrights have experimented with this form of language, we are so imbued with the spirit of realism in our dramatic art that poetic embellishments such as meter and rhyme when spoken as dialogue are simply not acceptable to modern audiences. Modern tragedies, like all modern dramas, are written in an elevated prose, language carefully chosen and crafted to sound like normal conversation yet possessing greater depth and resonance than ordinary language. In terms of theme there is no practical difference between the two versions of tragedy, both tending toward topics that are important and heuristic. While we know that music and dance were a vital part of Greek tragedy, we have no way of reconstructing it since there was no written notation to record it at the time. It is believed that plays such as Antigone and Oedipus were performed much like today's opera in that many of the lines and all the choral passages were sung. Obviously music plays a peripheral role in modern tragedy unless we consider operas, many of which are tragedies. Spectacle: scenery, lighting, sound, and make up tend to be somewhat de-emphasized in tragedy to avoid pulling focus away from its emotional and intellectual content. Again, grand opera with its huge and imposing sets provides the exception. Robert C. Huber

PARADOS [ Oedipus ]

Strophe 1

What is God singing in his profound
Delphi of gold and shadow?
What oracle for glorious Thebes?
Fear unjoints me, the roots of my heart tremble.
Now I remember, O Healer, your power and wonder:
Will you send doom like a sudden cloud, or weave it
Like nightfall of the past?
Speak to us, Oracle!

Antistrophe 1

Let me pray to Athena, the immortal daughter of 
And to Artemis her sister
And to Apollo—
O gods, descend!  Like three streams leap against
The fires of our grief, the fires of darkness;
Defend and be near us today.

Strophe 2

Now our afflictions have no end,
Now all our stricken host lies down
And no man fights off death with his mind;
The noble plowland bears no grain,
And groaning mothers cannot bear.

Antistrophe 2

The plague burns on, it is pitiless,
Though pallid children laden with death
Lie unwept in the stony ways,
And old gray women by every path
Flock to the strand about the altars
There to strike their breasts and cry
"Be kind, God's golden child!"

Strophe 3

There are no swords in this attack by fire,
No shields, but we are ringed with cries.
Send the besieger plunging from our homes
Into the waves that foam eastward of Thrace—
For the day ravages what the night spares—
Destroy our enemies, lord of the thunder!

Antistrophe 3

Let us sing the song of your arrows
Shot from the bow of the sun;
Artemis, Huntress,
Race with flaring lights upon our mountains!
Come all torchlit flaring!
Fall on the god that is godless.
Aristotle, Sophocles and Tragedy-genre on one page! Oscar Wilde (Forum) and comedy -- on another! COMEDY SITE Farce, Melodrama, Tragic comedy? No page yet for smaller genres!
Aristotle is everywhere - on acting, directing, composition pages! Important to remember that we use the three (3) categories from six (6) principles: Plot, Thought, Hero. All belong to Structure, not Texture (Language, Melody, Spectacle). Only the last one (Spectacle) is widely used in my directing classes (see Core Aesthetics).

I neglected Oedipus... for too long -- pre-production notes on Sophocles' "Rex" @ shows.vtheatre.net/oedipus.

[ film segments for Oedipus in 2005 Directing class THR331 ]

dramlit: script.vtheatre.net/215

NOTE: Finally I understood the difference between the organization of THR215 Dramatic Literature and THR413 Playscript Analysis: we start with methods in the upper-level class. We start with the postmodern concepts and use our knowledge of the past to apply new theories to all plays. Therefore, after postmodern is Modernism, of course. In reversed chronology we go to Realism, Shakespeare and Greeks/Classics for comparative analysis. No more evolutionary approach, we study STUCTURE.

So, the pages of Playscript Analysis are connected with Dramatic Literature course as a ground level. Something you need to know even if you didn't have Dramlit before.

Old Aristotle had a rather simple mind; Tragedy he explained as stories which start happy and end badly. Hero dies. Comedy is opposite. Happy end asks for trouble at the beginning.

According to the old man, Tragic Hero is a character ABOVE average. Comic one -- below the normal man. Kind of an idiot.

Tragic Situation must have no solution. It is always between hero and gods. Fate, as we know it.

Hero better be a king, not some messenger from Fed Express. It could be even a woman if she is out of blue blood and there are a lot of historical disasters in the family.

Pity and Fear, he wrote (The Poetics) 25 centuries ago.

Important to remember that Aristotle believed in mimesis and thought that the most important is IMITATION OF ACTION (Plot). When we will get to our century we will discover that CHARACTER (Hero) could be ACTION as well (Character becomes story).

Composition: everything DRAMATIC (Drama v. Epic) must have Beginning, Middle and End. It looks simple and it's not.

Oh, yes, the Chorus! Very important thing to remember; it is still with us in many different forms.

[ notes on the play will be collected during 2004 ]


"Oedipus Rex is notable for its use of dramatic irony: everybody in the audience knows from the start that Oedipus himself is the guilty party he seeks out for punishment. The viewers' enjoyment comes as they see and hear the facts accumulate, bit by bit, until it suddenly dawns on Oedipus that he is his father's murderer. The irony is heightened by blind Teiresias' many tauntings and the chorus' musical references to "seeing the light" Oedipus, though his physical eyes can see, is blind to the truth; and when he finally does come to see the truth, ironically, he blinds himself.

The first and final - and most tragic and triumphant - irony, however, lies in the implicit acknowledgment that the very quality of Hubris (Oedipus' arrogance in defying cosmic and priestly authority, fate and prophecy) is the same quality that enabled him to earlier confront and defeat the Sphinx and to save an oppressed city. Oedipus, then, is a hero who pits his pride against both gods and fate in the mold of Prometheus (whose downfall was caused by his sharing the gift of fire with man) and another heroine, Cassandra, who was cursed with the blessing of prophecy. And indeed, most Greek dramas carry this theme of human paradox.

Perhaps the symbolism of the Sphinx, who haunts the background of Oedipus Rex with her simple yet terrible riddle, says all that is necessary: The true enigma of the universe lies not in any exotic intergalactic phenomenon; the greatest mystery begins and ends with man."


Masks were "per-sonas," which were probably constructed in a way which amplified the voice.
2004 & After

projects: Demons 2003

texts: Theatre History

in focus: Taming of the Shrew

Theatre Books list *

reading: Theatre Theory



Virtual Theatre: Directing, Acting, Drama, Theory

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Bard, scripts

play writing amazon list *

[ Classics Page @ script.vtheatre.net ]

* * NEW: goto.txt : AFTER 2009 : LUL pages : teatr.us Go.dot 2006 * * 100 years since Sam Beckett's birth * flickr.com/groups/stage * 2007 : the art of theatre [flickr] * 2008 : Stoppard * Joseph Campbell:

The Sphinx in the Oedipus story is not the Egyptian Sphinx, but a female form with the wings of a bird, the body of an animal, and the breast, neck, and face of a woman. What she represents is the destiny of all life. She has sent a plague over the land, and to life the plague, the hero has to answer the riddle that she presents: "What is it that walks on four legs, then on two legs, and then on three?" The answer is "Man." The child creeps about on four legs, the adult walks on two, and the aged walk with a cane.
The riddle of the Sphinx is the image of life itself through time--childhood, maturity, age, and death. When without fear you have faced and accepted the riddle of the Sphinx, death has no further hold on you, and the curse of the Sphinx disappears. The conquest of the fear of death is the recovery of life's joy. (The Power of Myth, 151-152)
Hubris: This is the Greek notion concerning arrogance from pride or passion -- a human being not knowing his or her place as a mere human being.
Next: comedy
Links to Greeks Websites:
[ List isn't ready yet! Like Greeks portal * ]
See Shakespeare on Video: Tragedies


Fate supersedes the gods, we cannot even appeal to for their intervention. Spring Y2K DramLit is Shakespeare intensive!

Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex (50 mins) * (in Latin with English narration)

key concepts such as harmartia ("tragic error of judgment"), anagnorisis ("recognition"), peripeteia ("reversal"), catharsis, etc.

Important: the curse that the oracle at Delphi tells Oedipus is not the same curse that was told to his parents... As in his play "Antigone," where the main character is not the title figure but Creon, Sophocles makes Jocasta more than a mere supporting character in this tragedy.

Oedipus Rex and Fate: what is our 2004 take?



Strophe 1

The Delphic stone of prophecies
Remembers ancient regicide
And a still bloody hand.
That killer's hour of flight has come.
Apollo, son of Zeus, armed with his father's thunder
Leaps in lightning after him.

Antistrophe 1

Holy Parnassos' peak of snow
Flashes and blinds that secret man,
That all shall hunt him down.
Doom comes down on him; flight will not avail him.

Strophe 2

But now a wilder thing is heard
From the old man skilled at hearing Fate in the   
   wingbeat of a bird.
My soul hovers and can not find
Foothold in this debate, or any reason or rest of 
A division between the Houses of Laius and Oedipus
Yesterday or today
I know not, nor know of a quarrel
Or a reason to challenge
The fame of Oedipus,
And never until now has any man brought word
Of Laius' dark death staining Oedipus the King.

Antistrophe 2

Divine Zeus and Apollo hold
Perfect intelligence alone of all tales ever told;
But among men where is there proof
That a prophet can know
More than me, a man?
Shall I believe my great lord criminal
At a raging word that a blind old woman let fall?
I saw him, when the Sphinx faced him of old,
Prove his heroic mind!  These evil words are lies.
ACT and DIRECT photo-archives:

2006: Go.dot

Strophe 1

Alas for the seed of men.
His life is vanity and nothingness.
What measure shall I give these generations
That breathe on the void and are void
And exist and do not exist?
Your splendor is all fallen.
I see it in you, Oedipus:
Man's pattern of unblessedness.
I who saw your days call no man blest—
Your great days like ghosts gone.

Strophe 2

And now of all men ever known
Most pitiful is this man's story:
His fortunes are most changed, his state
Fallen to a low slave's.
O Oedipus, most royal one!
All understood too late.
How could that queen whom Laius won,
The garden that he harrowed at his height,
Be silent when that act was done?

Antistrophe 2

But all eyes fail before time's eye,
All actions come to justice there.
Your bed, your dread sirings,
Are brought to book at last.
Child by Laius doomed to die,
Then doomed to lose that fortunate little death,
Would God you never took breath in this air
That with my wailing lips I take to cry:
For I weep for the world's outcast.
I was blind, and now I can tell why:
Asleep, for you had given ease of breath 
To Thebes, while the false years went by.

Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights. ~Georg Hegel Total Directing Up-level

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