Starting Director's Notebook: Theatre in Context


A: Theatre in Context: The play text, its context and the ideas presented

Research into the cultural or theoretical context in this instance requires the you to research and consider why a particular play was written at a particular time, in a particular place by a particular person. You need to consider the effect this context has possibly had on the writing of the play, the playwright’s reasons for writing the play, the ideas presented in the play, the style, genre and the form the playwright has chosen to present their ideas.

Struggling to start?

Create four mind maps in your Theatre Journal on the following headings;

1. Historical Context - Play Text, 

2. Historical Context - Period the play was written

3. Cultural context - play text

4. Cultural context - period play was written

Cultural Context - The most powerful forces in a society include religion, gender roles, attitudes towards sex and marriage, social status/class, job opportunities/emigration, (wealth/poverty), politics, authority figures, stereotypes/ethnic identity


Carry out research on the following.

1.The author’s life

2.The period and cultural conditions of the time when the play was written

3.Any world or local events current at the time of writing the play that may have had an impact on its writing

4.The play’s reception and impact on audiences

5.The themes and ideas of the play

6.Particular characters or character traits

7.The period, location and events of the play

8.The genre or style

9.Any particular aspects unique to the play, for example particular soundtrack, images, props


After carrying out your research, think about the author, the time of writing and the location.

1.What was happening in the playwright’s world?

2.Why did he or she write the play?

3.Who was it for?

4.What was the playwright trying to say?

5.How does it relate to other plays by the playwright?

6.How does it relate to other plays being performed at the time?

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