Create an annotated list or an outline, based on the following example, of the given circumstances of the play. Be as complete as you can. Include research sources at the end.

Given circumstances are everything that the actor and reader have been given by the playwright in order to understand the world of the play. It refers to the specific conditions under which the action of the play operates. Include the headings of this list.


PREVIOUS ACTION (exposition)

Be sure to take into account any action in the play's dialogue that reveals incidents or action that took place BEFORE the current action of the play began. Sometimes this can be extensive and is revealed across the action of the entire play.





Date, year, season, time of day. (Related to environment.)

Note any significance about these things.


Physical Environment (geographic location, home or personal space): The specific area in which the play takes place including the climate. (Can be described in "generic" terms such as "confined", "hot", "dark", etc., as well as specific location.)


Economic Environment: The character's relationship to wealth or poverty, and the class of the character in relationship to the society in which they live.


Social Environment: The morals and social institutions under

which the characters live; their values and societal beliefs.


Political Environment: The character's relationship to the form of government under which they live. Could refer to family or other social group. Related to power structure.


Religious Environment: The formal or informal psychological controls placed upon a character because of their religious or ethical beliefs.



The way that the characters speak to each other and the situations they encounter all relate to the level of reality.  A play can be essentially real, but have very heightened language and environment. Conversely, a play can also be based on non-realistic situations, such as dreams, paranoia, or other altered mental states. Plays can have multiple characteristics. For instance, the situation might be quite abstract (animals are speaking or there are ghosts) but the themes and emotions of the characters are very real. Determining a precise level of reality can take some careful thought. This is related to style.

Paper Criteria:

•     Typed, 12 point font, MLA heading at top left with your name, stapled upper left, proof-read.

THETR 461:

Given Circumstances