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THE ART OF THEATER
 
The means by which an art form presents its message is referred to as the medium. Thus, sound produced by instruments or human voices is the medium of music. Paint on canvas or paper is the medium of painting. For literature, the medium is written language. For theater, it is a story performed by actors on a stage.
 
Drama is sometimes seen as a branch of literature because plays, like literature, are often printed in book form. However, there is an important difference between the two forms. Unlike a novel, a play is written to be performed, and the script of a play is not a finished work; it is an outline for a performance. The physical production of the play - the scenery, lighting, and costumes - will affect the performance, and so will the actors. How the actors interpret their roles greatly influences the play's effect on the audience.
 
The basic encounter in theater is between the performers and the audience. This is a special type of encounter because the performers are playing other people, characters. Moreover, the characters are part of a human story that has been written by a dramatist. This combination of elements distinguishes theater from other art forms.
 
Theater has several other distinctive characteristics. First, the subject matter of theater is always human beings. Second, theater is universal - there is an impulse toward creating theater in all societies. Third, theater is transitory in nature - a play is an event that occurs through time. Finally, theater is set apart by its basic elements: audience, performers, director, dramatist, purpose, viewpoint, and setting.
 
Human beings and human concerns are always the subject matter of drama, even when the performers play animals, objects, or abstract ideas. In the medieval play Everyman, some of the roles are abstract ideas such as Beauty, Knowledge, and Strength. The central character is Everyman, a human character, and the subject is death arriving before we want it to come - a theme that is universal to humans. The focus of drama is on human beings, even though different human concerns have been emphasized in different plays.
 
In view of the human-centered quality of theater, it is not surprising that the impulse toward theater is universal. (1) The urge to create drama has existed wherever human society has developed: in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. In every culture recorded in history or studied by anthropologists, we find rituals, ceremonies, and celebrations that include elements of theater. (2) At various times, these ceremonies and stories developed into a separate realm of theater. In Greece, a fully developed theater emerged almost 2,500 years ago. In India, theater became well-established around 2,000 years ago. (3) Wherever theater has become a separate art form, it has had certain essential qualities: a story - the play - is presented by one group - the performers - to another group - the audience. (4)
 
One special quality of a theater performance is its immediacy. In the theater, we live in the perpetual present tense. Theater is a transitory art. A performance changes from moment to moment, and each moment is a direct, immediate adventure for the audience. The transitory nature of theater is a quality it shares with music and dance, and sets it apart from literature and the visual arts. A novel or a painting is a fixed object; it exists as a finished product. The performing arts, on the other hand, are not objects but events. Theater occurs through time; it is an experience created by a series of sights, sounds, and impressions.

1. How does the art of theater convey its message?
A. An instrument or voice produces sound.
B. People perform a story for another group.
C. A person writes a story for others to read.
D. A camera converts light to images on film.
Explain:

2. The author discusses literature in paragraph 2 in order to illustrate what point?
A. Both novelists and dramatists use an outline to organize ideas.
B. Reading a novel and attending a play are different experiences.
C. Many actors prefer roles from classic works of literature.
D. Literature and drama are both written forms of communication.
Explain:

3. How is theater similar to the other performing arts?
A. It is based on works of literature.
B. It is an event that occurs through time.
C. It exists as a finished product.
D. It is presented the same way every time.
Explain:
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