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Dramatic Techniques

Dramatic techniques or devices are used by playwrights. It's important to remember, when reading a play, that drama is written to be performed, rather than to be read. It can be difficult to fully appreciate a piece of drama if you are reading it silently from a book. A dramatist has an advantage in being able to use most of the literary devices that are available to novelists, as well as using dramatic devices or techniques suitable to the stage.

See how much you know about dramatic techniques by trying this quiz on the subject.

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  1. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A technique by which a character deliberately appears to be someone else.
    Shakespeare uses this technique frequently - as when Portia disguises herself as a lawyer in The Merchant of Venice. Often the audience are aware of the disguise while the other characters are not, leading to dramatic irony
  2. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A still picture created on stage.
  3. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A clash between people, values, or ideas.
    Conflict, including internal conflict, is one of the key sources of dramatic tension
  4. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A speech given by one character who is speaking to other characters on stage.
    It can be easy to confuse 'monologue' and 'soliloquy'. A monologue is a speech delivered to other characters, whereas a soliloquy is a speech delivered to the audience, giving the impression of the audience overhearing a character's thoughts, or 'internal monologue'
  5. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A comment made by a character to the audience in a way that implies no one on stage has heard it.
  6. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A group of actors speaking in unison, usually by commenting on the action of the play.
  7. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    The audience knows something that one or more of the characters in a play does not know.
    Dramatic irony can be comic, as in A Midsummer Night's Dream, or tragic, as in Romeo and Juliet or Oedipus Rex
  8. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    A speech in which a character appears to be thinking aloud rather than speaking to any other character on stage.
  9. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    The moment a new character joins a scene.
    Entrances and exits can be used to dramatic effect, as they are in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls
  10. Choose the correct dramatic device.
    Deliberately misleading or distracting the audience in its expectations.
    A 'red herring' is a distraction from whatever is significant - when used dramatically, it is a misleading type of foreshadowing. Audiences are led to expect one thing and are surprised when something entirely unexpected happens instead

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