Identifying Important Themes and Elements

Think about the steps you took when you first read your play in Module Four--the Dramatic Play Analysis. You read the play just to experience it, then you reread it, using Aristotle's Six Theatrical Elements to look for important major theatrical elements. Now you are going to read a play again but this time with the view to producing it. So you will have to write a synopsis that includes, themes, images and key words that may help them define an artistic vision for their production.


You write a synopsis, which is like a distillation of the play, so that the reader can quickly understand the heart of the play and your interpretation of it. A synopsis should be short and snappy, to the point and full of active verbs and evocative words. Since you will be sharing this description of the play with others in your theatre company in order to decide on what play you're going to produce,  it should "sell" the play and get everyone excited to do it.

Your short (200 words max) play synopsis should include the setting, what happens (plot summary-no more than three sentences long), type of play (comedy, drama), the play structure (Two-Act, Five-Act etc.), language, central characters, and what it is about (major theme/themes).

Then list key words that you feel could metaphorically represent the play and act as springboards for direction and design. I.e. A list for The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov might include: love, home, drabness, unfulfilled dreams, sisters, death, cold, army, separation, darkness, romanticism, Russian folk tales, walls, samovar, country life, family ties, fickleness, fire, green oak, destruction, fidelity, suicide, escapism, loneliness, suffering, social and military rank.

Sample Synopsis-The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov

Turn of the 20th century, Russia. In this four-act play, three Prosorov sisters—Olga, Masha and Irina and their brother Andrey, are young, cultured and refined. Educated and raised in Moscow society, they now live together in a lifeless small provincial town, in a country house surrounded by a river and dark forest. They ache to be released from their dull lives, return to Moscow, and fulfill the bright promises of their youth. Their struggles to escape boredom and find happiness are both tragic and sadly comical. Eccentric characters punctuate the sisters’ desperation: one who sings “Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ya” and another who clucks like a chicken. The seasons pass, people come in and out of their lives, the sisters' hopes and plans never work out, and despite the desperate mantra of “Moscow, Moscow, Moscow” --they never return “home” again.
Key words: Spiral, four seasons, love, home, isolation, unfulfilled dreams, sisters, death, separation, darkness, romanticism, Russian folk tales, corsets, walls, work as life fulfilment, oppression, samovar, country life, family ties, fickleness, fire, green oak, white bird, endurance, destruction, fidelity, suicide, escapism, loneliness, suffering, music (whistling, piano, singing), childhood memories, social and military rank.