A Handy Glossary of Drama Terms

Drama has its own terminology. Understanding it helps to understand the plays and their meanings more fully. Here is a handy glossary of some terms used when discussing Drama.

Accent - particular sound made in pronouncing words which suggests the place or background of the speaker.

Allegory - a story or picture in which the meaning is represented through symbols or where different characters are personifications of qualities or of other people.

Annotation - hand-written notes or sketches around a script or other text.

Black comedy - comedy which gets its humour from the macabre and gruesome. This is usually related closely to Irony (see How Stories Really Work)

Blocking (1) - organisation of movements on the stage, including where actors stand at what points in the play and how they move (2) - a barrier/something in the way which ‘blocks’ the view of the audience.

Character - part being played in a drama, a role created by an actor or writer as part of a presentation, which will be exemplified by external physical features and internal motivation. Per How Stories Really Work, a character is conventionally defined by such things as his or her status, class, beliefs, personality, history, job, attitude and so on - but more accurately is defined by the lack of these things to one degree or another.

Comedy of manners - a ‘comedy of manners’ gets its humour from close observation of the way characters behave, and is usually set in a historical period when there may have been strict rules of social behaviour. Some of Jane Austen’s work falls into this category.

Commentary - thoughts by a director or others about a performance or other work.

Context - the historical, cultural or social situation or circumstances in which a piece of drama is set or devised.

Contrast - difference or opposite. Contrast works by creating absences, as we can read more about in How Stories Really Work.

Convention - the agreed, accepted or ‘normal’ way of doing things.