Think of stage shows and you immediately think of popular operas and musicals that have involved theatre and drama not only from recent times, but over the past few centuries. Many of Shakespeare’s popular plays have been composed into stage shows and theatre shows as well as musicals that have been hugely popular around the world.
In October 2014, The Lion King celebrated 15 years of stage presence at Lyceum Theatre in London, where it opened first in 1999, with large crowds still drawn to it. That is an outstanding achievement and the facts prove it – by then it had grossed over £4 billion globally, beating Phantom of the Opera which was the previous record-holder. To understand it in better perspective, The Lion King’s global revenues topped even the combined worldwide revenues of the top six grossing Harry Potter films!
However, critics were skeptical if stage shows still hold sway over the public in terms of visual majesty or they are mere vestiges of tourist interest for foreigners visiting a local city or country. The answer to their questions has been very much in favor of stage shows, which only goes to emphasize the fact that the public loves a show that has all the elements of theatre and drama.
What are the basic elements of a stage show? Unlike films and television, stage shows are live performances and living, breathing art forms. Broadly, the main elements are:
• Script or Text – the starting point of a theatrical performance and one that is the domain of the playwright.
• Scenario or Plans – form the blueprint that a director uses to build up the production
• Process – a co-ordination of the creative efforts put in by the director, actors, dancers, musicians, technicians etc.
• Product – the end result of the process which will be viewed by the public
• Audience – the essential aspect of every art; the very physical presence of an audience transforms the performance.
But the single most important element for the success of a stage show or a theatre play is the story, the script or the text. Here is where the importance of the playwright dominates all other elements. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher-writer established over 2000 years ago the ‘theories of playwriting’ or the Elements of Drama which have since been followed by many successful playwrights over the centuries. In Aristotle’s critical analysis of several Greek plays and dramas, the six elements that outline a story or a script involve:
• Ideas / Theme / Thought
• Action / Plot
• Characters / players in the script –
Besides the above, the other major elements of drama include the sub categories of comedy, melodrama, tragedy and tragicomedy. The success of Shakespeare’s writing is attributed to this single aspect – i.e. each of his plays can be slotted into a category of drama.