While stage performances are the most visible parts of theater, students studying the art and craft of theater write research papers on a variety of topics as part of their coursework. Theater research paper topics include dramatic techniques, play reviews, history, biographies and aspects of the technical fields in theater, such as scene design, lighting and costuming. These areas give students a wide range of potential subjects for their theater research papers.
Focus on dramatic techniques for your theater research paper. Dramatic techniques vary from narration, with the actor narrating a story directly to the audience, to spotlighting, when actors share improvisational drama in a group setting, to role playing, during which actors pretend to be someone else. Actors employ many other dramatic strategies or techniques throughout the production of a play. Write a collection of such techniques for the basis of your paper, explaining and giving examples to illustrate the concepts.
Stage Play Reviews
Write a stage play review that requires you to spend a few hours researching the production and viewing the final product on stage. Pay close attention to the actors' performances, the set, the stage movement and the flow of the play. This type of theater research paper requires you to be more attentive than if you were doing all of your research in the library. Your review might include what worked well in the performance, what did not work so well and what you might have done differently.
History and Biographies
Choose a particular playwright or actor and delve into his history, career beginnings and recognitions for your theater research project. Do the same for an acting troupe or theater, focusing on how the group formed or when the theater came into existence. Your paper might focus on how a particular performer or group affected later stage work or represented the thinking of a certain era. Emphasize why this person, period or group has significance.
Research the often unseen participants in theater -- the technical crew. Explore the ins and outs of being in the stage crew, including costume designers, lighting designers and sound technicians. Your theater research paper could be a collective look at all of these aspects. Or you might focus on how one particular technical aspect adds to a production's value. Explore how lighting variances or costuming affect a performance, for instance.
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