Getting More Out Of Theater: Tips For More Enjoyment When Watching A Play

During a play, how much do you observe about the production while watching the performance? The following guidelines may help you appreciate drama even more.

Going to a play means sitting in the dark, hopefully in a comfortable chair, watching a story enacted before your eyes by a group of performers. If you are tired, distracted, or bored, it may be all you can do to follow the plot development of the drama without giving close attention to the play's other elements.

But if you are wide awake and curious, you may notice that some actors are better than others, that the props appear realistic, and the lighting focuses on the main characters while leaving others in the background. Noting features like these, you may appreciate the director or producer as much as the actors and begin to value drama as an art form as much as an entertainment medium.

The next time you go to a play, keep an eye open for characteristics like the following. You may find yourself appreciating drama as never before. And you can discuss professional and amateur drama in a meaningful way when you break it down and assess the parts as well as the whole.


1. Staging. Is the performance area well lit so the audience can follow the actors' movements? Can back stage activity be detected? If so, does it detract from audience attention to the actors on stage? Does the on-stage area accommodate all the actors in each scene, or does it appear cramped or bare? Is the stage area attractive? Does it include appropriate backdrops for each scene?

2. Lighting. Are both overhead and footer lights focused properly? Are they bright enough without being blinding? Is the spotlight used properly? Does the audience have adequate lighting between scenes or at intermission to make their way safety to restrooms or snack areas?

3. Actors. Do the performers know their lines or do they fumble or forget? Do they deliver speeches realistically or in a stilted fashion? Are body movements and facial expressions geared to the mood of each scene? Do actors use proper enunciation or dialect based on the characters they represent? Overall, do performers fit the roles they play and are they convincing in those roles?

4. Costumes. Do costumes appear authentic for the time period? Do they fit the actors? Are they representative of the story line and character roles? Do they appear cheap, vague, or unrelated?

5. Story dialog. Does the story follow a routine pace? Is the dialog realistic? Can the audience follow the plot development and understand what is going on? Does each scene move the plot forward, or do some spiral away from the main line of action in a confusing way? Does the plot end satisfactorily?

6. Support crew. Does the director lead the actors and the action in a professional manner? Are the stage hands organized and methodical about changing props for each scene? Are scene breaks or intermissions too long or the right length? Is the overall performance coordinated and entertaining?

Assessing specific elements in a drama performance can make the experience more meaningful. Look beyond the plot to analyze the contributing features of the production. Evaluating the production and the performance will help you appreciate drama more fully from now on.

© High Speed Ventures 2011