CLEP Humanities : Theater

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Theater

Who were the co-writers of the hit broadway musicals The King and I, Oklahoma!, and The Sound of Music?

Possible Answers:

John Kander and Fred Ebb

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

Correct answer:

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

Explanation:

The Broadway stage musical gained prominence in American culture throughout the 1940s and 1950s, largely thanks to the works of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Their Oklahoma!, from 1943, was the first musical to fully integrate songs and music into the play's story. The duo had further Broadway hits with 1951's The King and I and 1959's The Sound of Music.

Example Question #2 : Theater

The composer who wrote the operas The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute was __________.

Possible Answers:

Giacomo Meyerbeer

Carl Maria von Weber

Ludwig van Beethoven

Gioachino Rossini

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Correct answer:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Explanation:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a pioneering composer in a number of genres, but pioneered new realms for opera with his compositions. Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro restructured and transformed Italian opera, while The Magic Flute helped pioneer opera in German.

Example Question #3 : Theater

Which composer wrote the music for the comic-opera HMS Pinafore?

Possible Answers:

Richard Rodgers

Stephen Sondheim

Arthur Sullivan

Frederick Loewe

Frederic Clay

Correct answer:

Arthur Sullivan

Explanation:

Arthur Sullivan helped pioneer English language comic operas with his writing partner, the librettist W. S. Gilbert. Gilbert and Sullivan became immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the last decades of the nineteenth century writing works like HMS Pinafore, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance.

Example Question #4 : Theater

Which of the following playwrights is NOT considered a writer in the style known as "The Theater of the Absurd"?

Possible Answers:

Luigi Pirandello

Eugene Ionesco

Samuel Beckett

Eugene O'Neill

Edward Albee

Correct answer:

Eugene O'Neill

Explanation:

The "Theater of the Absurd" was a dramatic movement begun by figures like Samuel Beckett and Luigi Pirandello in the 1920s that subverted and exploded theatrical conventions regarding settings, storytelling, and character development. This style was developed as a reaction to the hyper-realism of playwrights like Eugene O'Neill and August Strindberg. The movement was hugely influential, with playwrights of the next generation like Eugene Ionesco and Edward Albee picking up the mantle for themselves.

Example Question #5 : Theater

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

Possible Answers:

the fates

the dramaturgs

the muses

the chorus

the thespians

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 #6 : Theater

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

Possible Answers:

The actors

The director

The orchestra

The stagehands

The light and sound board operators

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 #7 : Theater

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

Possible Answers:

A chorus

A blending of comedy and tragedy

Outdoor performances

Mask work

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 #8 : Theater

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

Possible Answers:

The scenes of the play

The settings used in the play

The list of characters

The overview of the story

The technical requirements of 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 #9 : Theater

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

Possible Answers:

In one line in front of the stage

In a circle around the stage

In straight lines in front of the stage

On multiple levels in the gallery

On the stage itself

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 #2 : Theater

How many acts do Shakespeare's plays typically have?

Possible Answers:

Two

Seven

Five

Three

One

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.

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