Tuesday, 2 May 2017

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Welcome to Unit 8:3(2) 

Review: Previously in Unit 8:2, we discussed about how to teach the sub topic ‘Talking about reservation’ in Form Two. In this sub topic, students were introduced to the various techniques and ways of making or talking about one’s reservations or bookings to various places or areas.

In this Unit 8:3, we will learn how to teach the sub topic, Identifying main features of different genres’ in Form Three. In this sub topic, we will again guide students to identify and analyse various features of play, novel, and poetry as they are applied in literature.

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2. Sub Topic: Identifying main features of different genres.
3. Periods per sub topic: 6
4: Class: Form Three.

The student should be able to identify main features of different genres. In literature, there are three different genres. Each of the genres has its own features. These features are to be studied by the students so that they can be able to distinguish between the three genres. Knowing these differences also help students to become good readers of the literary works that are expected to be analysed under this course.


In PART TWO of this sub topic, we will discuss about the main features of play. Together with these main features, meaning, history, forms, and types of play will be covered as well.

In this activity, the teacher introduces students to the definition, the differences between drama and play, origin and development of drama, and types of drama.

By definition, a drama is a story that is intended to be performed by actors in front of an audience. The story in a drama is told in a way that it can be acted by characters before an audience, hence making it a kind of communication between a playwright and the audience through actors. It is also defined as an art form that tells a story through the speech and actions of the characters in the story.
The differences between drama and play have been well note as follows in the following website: http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-drama-and-vs-play/ , “A play is a literary piece consisting of dialogues between various characters, epilogue, monologue, prologue and an end. On the other hand, drama refers to the set-up of the play which includes the theatre, the hall, the accessories, the green room, costumes, music and the like. Hence the word ‘drama’ should be understood in the collective sense.

The word ‘drama’ indicates a collection of all the terms used in dramaturgy or the art of play. Thus, a person who is skilled in the production of a play is called a dramatist. He is well versed with the rudiments and the principles of dramaturgy such as the measurement of the stage on which the play has to be staged, the nature of characters, the costumes that fit the characters, the music to be played, the music room, the green room, the synchronization of music and dialogue delivery, and the like. In short, it can be said that drama deals with all the nuances of the composition of play.
On the other hand, a play is a literary composition that should be written in a specific number of acts and scenes.
The author of a play is called as playwright. The duty of a playwright is to adhere to the principles of composing a play. He or she should not swerve from the rules pertaining to literary composition. A play should be staged on a stage. A dramatist is the one who produces the play. Sometimes, the playwright and the dramatist are both one and the same person. In other words, a person who composes the play can produce the play as well. He becomes both the playwright and the dramatist at the same time. This is an important observation to make when it comes to the understanding the meanings of the two words, namely, play and drama.
Drama refers to acting, whereas play refers to composition

Origin and development.
A drama is a specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word which means ‘to do’ or ‘accomplish’. There are three theories regarding the origin of drama. The first one is that drama is believed to have developed from ancient religious ceremonies that were performed in order to win favour from the gods. During these ceremonies, priests often impersonated supernatural beings or animals and sometimes initiated such actions as haunting. These ceremonies that were performed and attended by a large number of audiences are believed to have formed the basis of drama. This theory upholds that the Greeks invented drama because the Greeks are ones who held festivals honouring he god of wine, Dionysus. But later, they started to relate the heroic deeds that were not based on Dionysus. Another source says that the drama was originated in choral hymns of praise sung at the tomb of a dead hero. At some point, a speaker was separated form from the chorus and began to act out deeds in the hero’s life. This acted part became more elaborate and the role of the chorus diminished. Eventually, the stories were fully performed as plays, and their origins forgotten. According to third theory, drama grew out of a natural love of storytelling. Stories told around campfires re-created victories in the hunt or in battle or the feats of dead heroes. These stories also were then developed into dramatic retellings of the events.

Types of drama.
There are several kinds of drama but many of them combine more than one form in a single drama. Among of them are:
  1.   Tragedy. Is the form of drama that shows seriousness and has a tragic end. In the kind of dram, there may be moments of comic reliefs but the main character die or experience unhappy ending. Examples of such plays are like Kinjeketile, and Dedan Kimathi.
  2.   Comedy. This is the kind of drama that evokes laughter often by exposing the pretensions of the fools and rascals. But even in the midst of laughter, comedy can raise surprisingly serious questions; hence comedy can be both critical and playful. Most comedies have happy ending. Examples of comedies are like The Trials of Brother Jero and The Lion and the Jewel.
  3.   Tragi-Comedy. This is the kind of drama that combines the elements of tragedy and comedy. In this type of drama, the main character does not die or end in danger. An example of tragi-comedy is Dilemma of a Ghost.
  4.   Historical drama. This is the type of drama which expresses the expresses the history of a certain society. In this drama, a reader can also find elements of tragedy and comedy. Dedan Kimathi and Kinjeketile are examples of historical drama.
  5.   Melodrama. This is the kind of drama for entertainment. Is a play with sensational and romantic plot and often accompanied with music.
  6.   Farce. It is the kind of play that ridicule the society and it uses ridiculous situations and broad physical clowning for its humorous effects. It is sometimes considered a distinct dramatic form, but it is essentially a type of comedy.
  7.   Closet drama. This is the drama that is not intended to be performed onstage, but read by a solitary reader or sometimes, out loud in a small group.
  8.   Serious drama. It was developed out of tragedy and became established in the 1800s. it shares the serious tone and often the serious purpose of tragedy, and like tragedy it concentrates on unhappy events. But serious drama can end happily, and its heroes are less imposing and more ordinary than the tragic hero. Serious drama is sometimes viewed as tragedy’s modern successor.
In this activity, a teacher is going to guide students to discuss the Features of play.
Play is also one of the most popular forms of literature. This makes it different from other genres of literature as well.
A teacher can collect sample plays (texts) and give them to the students. As he/she teaches he/she can refer to the text books selected so that students can see real features the teacher is talking about. For example, if one of the features of play is stage directions, then a teacher can show them real examples and structures from the books they have. This is not an analysis of plays yet, but the only aim is to engage students to real experiences of what they are being taught. This experience will be helpful when they really analyse the text books selected.

In discussing the features of a play, students are guided to use correct structural patterns in describing the features of play. The following patterns can be used:
  • A play is divided ….( For example, a play is divided into chapters)
  • A play consists of …. (For example, a play consists of imaginary settings and characters)
  • A play is made up of …. (For example, a play is made up ten chapters)
If there are available copies of some play, a teacher may supply them to the students and have them discuss what features they see in groups. Let them discuss what they see by using appropriate patterns you have given them. After getting their various responses, now you can lead them to the discussion of the features of play.
The following are the features that distinguish a play as a prose fiction from other literary genres:

Characteristics of Drama.
Drama is a unique genre because it can be presented and discussed both as a literature and as a performance or the production of plays in the theatre. The following are the features of drama that distinguish it from other genres of literature like novel and poems:
  •   Drama tells the story through the combination of dialogues unlike other genres that do not use dialogues or use rare dialogues.
  •   Drama is performed. Unlike other literary genres, drama is intended to be performed before the audience.
  •   Many plays are written in prose, that is to say, plays are written in everyday language.
  •   Plays employ stage directions as a narrative point of view. Unlike novels that do not use stage directions.
  •   Most plays are divided into acts and scenes. Novels and short stories are divided into parts, sections and chapters while poems are divided into stanzas.
  •   The act or scene in a play ends with a curtain or blackout to show the end of an act of a scene, but this is rare to other literary genres.
·         Soliloquy. In drama, it is a dramatic device in which a character, alone on the stage, reveals his or her private thoughts and feelings as if thinking aloud. A soliloquy gives information that the character would not reveal to other characters on the stage.
·         Aside. In a play, it is a character’s comment that is directed to the audience or another character, but is not heard by any other characters on the stage.
·         Stage directions. These are the directions in the play that are given to instruct the characters what to do on the stage. They are mostly at almost each beginning of an act or a scene and sometimes they are put in parenthesis.
·         Dialogue. This is the conversation of two or more people who speak in turn. The characters in the plays are made to speak in dialogues, that is, in turn.
·         Curtain. In drama, this marks that end of an act or a   scene.

Comparison essay. The students can be guided to write an essay in which they can compare two genres. The question can be asked; ‘What are the similarities and differences of novel and play’ or ‘Discuss features that distinguish play from novel’.

6: CONNECTION: Beyond the Sub Topic. Being one of the oldest forms of literature, drama has long served as the art that works as reflective of social realities. This sub topic gives a room for student to explore different features of different genres. These features help them to understand better the genres of literature. They also give students a time to think broadly about the particular genres.

7: NOTE: Understanding literature is the only way for the students to be able to analyse literary works. By learning these different features of literary genres, students are being prepared to be better readers who can independently read and analyse various literary texts. Forms of Novel/Prose and types of novel are crucial aspects for students to know before starting analysing the novels for the course.

Check out how to Study & Teach other Form Three Sub Topics in this Blog!

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  1. Abrahams, M.H (1971) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc. New York.
  2. Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Fourth Course with Readings in World Literature; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.
  3. Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Sixth Course; Literature of Britain with World Classics; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.
  4. Kinsella, K et al (2003) Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes; Copper Level, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.
  5. http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-drama-and-vs-play/

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