CLEP Humanities : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

The characters in Greek drama who explain the events of the play are called __________.

Possible Answers:

the fates

the muses

the dramaturgs

the thespians

the chorus

Correct answer:

the chorus

Explanation:

In Greek drama, the ultimate fates of the characters, particularly the tragic heroes, were known to the audience, usually thanks to the chorus. The chorus was a group of actors who would explain the background and major events of the play's story. The chorus is one of the key features of ancient Greek theater.

Example Question #4 : Theater

In a theater, the "pit" holds what kind of performers?

Possible Answers:

The actors

The light and sound board operators

The stagehands

The orchestra

The director

Correct answer:

The orchestra

Explanation:

In a large theater, the "pit" is a small area between the stage and the audience that is lower than the stage itself. This area is made to hold the orchestra, which places them next to the performers on stage, but out of the view of the audience. This position also allows for the performers in a musical to see the orchestra's conductor.

Example Question #3 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

Which of the following was NOT a feature of classical Greek theater?

Possible Answers:

Outdoor performances

A chorus

Mask work

A blending of comedy and tragedy

All male ensembles

Correct answer:

A blending of comedy and tragedy

Explanation:

The ancient Greeks largely invented the Western dramatic tradition, but their own style was highly specific in the nature of its performance. All shows were held in open amphitheaters with all male ensembles performing in masks. Stories were also highly regimented, with a chorus being required to explain events and tragedies and comedies being presented as entirely separate kinds of work.

Example Question #5 : Theater

In a play, to what does the phrase “dramatis personae” refer?

Possible Answers:

The scenes of the play

The overview of the story

The list of characters

The technical requirements of the play

The settings used in the play

Correct answer:

The list of characters

Explanation:

In every play, as it is written and often in a playbill, a cast list is necessary to describe the characters and the actors needed to play them. In Shakespeare's time, the Latin phrase "dramatis personae," meaning the "dramatic people," was used to indicate such a list. Today the Latin terminology is not universal, but still in widespread use.

Example Question #6 : Theater

In a theater in the round, the seats are arranged in what format?

Possible Answers:

On multiple levels in the gallery

On the stage itself

In one line in front of the stage

In a circle around the stage

In straight lines in front of the stage

Correct answer:

In a circle around the stage

Explanation:

Theater "in the round" is a format which features the audience sitting in a circle around the stage. This creates a different environment for the performers and audience, which forces a play to be performed in a different manner than usual. This approach has typically been used in more modern theater to differentiate it from film.

Example Question #6 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

How many acts do Shakespeare's plays typically have?

Possible Answers:

Seven

One

Five

Three

Two

Correct answer:

Five

Explanation:

William Shakespeare's plays, whether comedies or tragedies, typically are divided into five separate acts. This was based off of Roman structures, and was the popular format in Renaissance drama. This structure was formally described and analyzed by the German author Gustav Freytag in his 1863 Die Technik des Dramas.

Example Question #7 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

In the theater, which person is responsible for arranging the sets, props, and actors to run the show smoothly?

Possible Answers:

Playwright

Technical Director

Producer

Stage Manager

Director

Correct answer:

Stage Manager

Explanation:

In any theatrical production, the person who is responsible for all of the elements to go off smoothly and in the proper order is the stage manager. While the least creative position among the production crew's leadership, the stage manager is also the most necessary. The stage manager is the conduit between the director and all the technical functions in a play, and "calls" the show by announcing when various elements can go off.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

In the theater, the "proscenium" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the area of the stage lights cannot hit

the frame around the stage provided by the building's architecture

the portion of the theater that actors can walk on

the area behind the seats for technical artists

the front portion of the seats for the audience

Correct answer:

the frame around the stage provided by the building's architecture

Explanation:

The proscenium arch is the name for the outer framing of the performance area at a theater that demarcates the performing area for the audience. The physical arch was a necessity for centuries, creating a frame for the audience's view of the stage. Beginning in the twentieth century, many theater artists began performing in spaces without a proscenium, and new forms of theater developed that openly broke down the "fourth wall" between the performers and the audience.

Example Question #2 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

What part of the stage is called "upstage?"

Possible Answers:

The area of the stage closest to the audience

The balcony

The catwalks that hold the scenery

The wings where the actors wait to go on stage

The back of the stage, furthest from the audience

Correct answer:

The back of the stage, furthest from the audience

Explanation:

The term "upstage" refers to the back of the stage, furthest away from the audience. Before theaters began using auditorium-style seating, where the audience's seats are arranged in rows with each row progressively higher, the audience would stand or sit on a flat floor. Stages were often built on an angle, with the rear of the stage at a higher elevation than the front, so that audiences could see what was happening at the back of the stage. When an actor is told by the director to move "upstage," he is being told to walk towards the rear of the stage.

Example Question #10 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Theater

To what does the term "blocking" refer?

Possible Answers:

When an actor deliberately stands in front of another

Determining the placement of the scenery

Predetermined movement by the actors

The act of putting the props on stage

Chunking lines in order to memorize them

Correct answer:

Predetermined movement by the actors

Explanation:

"Blocking" refers to predetermined movements by the actors. As a company begins to rehearse a play, the director will give the actors their blocking in addition to their lines. This ensures that actors are in a particular space at a certain time. This makes the actors' lives easier because a scene should be the same every time. It also ensures that the audience can see what is going on without any of the actors being covered up by another.

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