Forms and Conventions Table

Dramatic Form/ Performance Style/ Genre
Contemporary Australian Theatre

  • Ruby Moon
  • Matt Cameron
  • Borrows conventions from other forms.


  • Waiting For Godot
  • The Rhinoceros
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Eugene Ionesco
  • Existentialist themes
  • Vaudeville Banter
  • Silence
  • Physical Routines
  • Banter
  • Silence
  • Physical Routines
  • The Seagull
  • Chekhov
  • 4th wall
  • Realistic Costume, Set, Props, Lighting, Sound
  • Box set
  • Belief/Conviction
  • Muscle Memory
  • Emotional Recall
  • Fund.Quest.
  • Circles of Attention
  • Representational Acting
  • Concentration
  • Murderer, The Hope of Women
  • Oscar Kokoschka
  • Georg Kaiser
  • Spiritual awakening & suffering. (more of an effect than a convention)
  • Effort Actions
Theatre of the Grotesque

  • Symbolism
  • Biomechanics
  • Symbolism
  • Physical Theatre
  • Abstract Movement
(e.g. Epic Theatre)
  • Threepenny Opera
  • Brecht
  • Narration.
  • Alienation
  • Demonstration of role.
  • Narration
  • Multiple Characterisation
  • Placards and Signs
  • Reported Speech
  • Actors Swapping Roles
  • Gest
Non-Realistic Theatre (In General)
Everything from the above three forms as well as:
  • Symbolism
  • Non-Linear Scene Structure
  • Multiple Time Frames
  • Abstract Movement, Gesture & Sound
  • Slow Motion/ Fast Forward
  • Transformational Objects
  • Onstage Costume Changes
  • Use of projection
  • Break 4th Wall
  • Freeze Frames
Indigenous Theatre

  • Stolen
  • Rainbow's End
  • Box the Pony
  • Jane Harrison
  • Leah Purcell
  • Traditional Language
  • Indigenous Actors
  • Indigenous Themes
  • Narration
  • Storytelling
  • Dance
  • Song
  • Stand-up comedy
Ancient Greek Theatre

  • The Frogs
  • Antigone
  • Hippolytus
  • Aristophanes
  • Sophocles
  • Euripides
  • Chorus
  • 3 Man lead cast (after Sophocles)
  • Mask
  • No violence onstage
  • Chorus
  • Mask
  • Exaggerated Gesture
  • Dance, Song & Chanting
Commedia dell'Arte

  • Improvisation
  • Stock Characters
  • Masks
  • Portable Stage
  • Masks
  • Lazzi
  • Grummelot
  • Burle
  • Concetti
  • Battute
(Melodrama, Restoration Comedy, Stand up,
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • 3 Stooges

  • audience laughs
  • Banter
  • Wit
  • Irony
  • Pun
  • Parody/Satire
  • Sight gags
  • Slapstick
  • Exaggeration
  • Non-sequitur
  • Stock Character

A Word on Genre
Definition: a large class or group that consists of individual works of literature that share common attributes.Therefore, Black Comedy is a type of comedy which shares common attributes with other works. In this case we can call them conventions. However, Black Comedy is NOT a performance style or dramatic form becasue a black comedy can be performed in a variety of styles and forms. What links these plays together are the themes and the use of comedic techniques.
So yes, the following are conventions of Black Comedy:
  • Catharsis
  • Themes of: pain, loss, taboo, controversial.
  • Use of comedic techniques to explore the above themes.

Dramatic Forms Vs Performance Style
Conventions are anything that defines a Dramatic Form.
Conventions can be drawn from many things such as production elements, techniques, audience reactions, themes/issues/topics, etc.
For example, conventions of Realism are:
o the illusion of the 4th Wall
o Characters are dressed in realistic costume
o the audience experiences catharsis
o the themes and storyline of the play are real life issues
o The actor “becomes” the character using Stanislavskian techniques such as Muscle Memory, emotional recall, fundamental questions etc.

A performance is considered a Dramatic Form when it adheres strictly to all of its conventions.
When a performance does not use all of the conventions it is a Performance Style rather than a dramatic form.

Consider these two performances of Sophocles’ Antigone
Performance A
Performance B
No masks worn
Chanting and moving in unison
Large gestures
A different actor for each character
Performed on a thrust stage
Amplified sound and lighting effects used.
Masks are worn
Chanting and moving in unison
Large gestures Only 3 main actors play all the characters
No female actors
Performed in an amphitheatre
Stage consists of Proscenium, skene and orkestra
Performed during the day

Performance A does not adhere to the conventions of Ancient Greek Theatre. However, the Performance Style is Ancient Greek Theatre.

Dramatic Forms and Techniques
A dramatic/theatrical/acting technique is anything that an actor does or uses on stage or in the development of a performance.
For example, techniques used by Stanislavski in the creation of the character are:
o Emotional recall
o Muscle memory
o The Magic If
o Circles of Attention
o Relaxation

Elements of Drama
role & character, situation, tension, time & place, movement, language, moment, symbol, atmosphere, dramatic meaning, audience engagement.

Elements of Production
Sound, lighting, costume, set, props