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What is Dramatic Theory, Part II

November 30, 2016

PART II: What is Dramatic Theory, and why you need it?

After more than thirty years living in Los Angeles, I now live on a mountain in the desert. Just a bit ago, a rather hungry looking roadrunner hopped up on my wall, looking for baby quail to eat.  I’ve been giving those quail a little additional food and watching them grow for weeks, now. I don’t particularly want to think of them as roadrunner vittles. So, yes I have sympathy for the baby quail and their incredibly assiduous parents. I ‘feel’ for them. I also ‘feel’ for the roadrunner. It isn’t easy being one, I am quite sure. I want them to survive, too. But when he jumped up on that wall, that action got me out of my chair, out the front door, and eye to eye with that raptor, the two of us having a short, but mutually wide-eyed communication. His action prompted my action. His feeling hungry did not prompt my action, and my feelings for the quail family notwithstanding, did not prompt my getting up out of my chair. That I move from my chair for the little birds is EVIDENCE I have feelings for them. Extant feelings of “protective” became the action of “protecting” because a threat had arisen. So you see, the process – psychologically speaking, is spontaneous: extant feelings + threat (stimuli) = action. There is no process of “an arousal of feeling which generates an action” but rather “existing feeling + external action = personal action.

“I never liked the guy. He shoved me from behind, and called my sister a bad name. I hit him.” There is no process here of having to “dislike” the guy – the extant feeling – for a punch to be thrown – that state already exists. Had there been no shove from behind – the action – the state would have likely gone on for infinity, which would have given us: “You know it’s been twenty years, I don’t remember that guy’s name, but I never liked him. We never said so much as ‘hello’. ”

We can let anatomy, psychology, biology, metaphysics and bingo decide where one element intersects the other – but for dramatic purposes – feelings exist before the fact or they do not exist before the fact. As an audience, we know before the fact that they exist, or we find out after the fact that they’ve existed all along.  But in the human experience, they are all one – a simultaneous event, either based on previous experience or upon present necessity – both of which involve existing or newly generated feelings. This real human experience is the cause of a real effect upon the audience, and understanding how to actualize it in our work is essential to providing the audience the platform upon which this effect will take place.

Which means we must discuss the essential components of the audience – we who witness the dramatic and comedic events.


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One Comment
  1. Forrest Ashley permalink

    Thank you.

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