"Helpful Hints & So Much More"
welcome to melodrama helpful hints
Some of the characteristics of authentic melodrama
include: That villainy is always distinct from honesty; virtue
always overcomes vice and be sure that there is a happy ending. A
few big productions numbers with singing and dancing make audiences
want to come back again.
There is always a hero wearing a
white hat of one sort or another. There is always a villain and his
black hat. And there is always a heroine in need of rescue.
Melodramas are typically fast moving and emphasize the agony that
the hero or heroine goes through before good can triumph over evil.
Other stereotypical characters include the sheriff, the villain’s
sidekick, and comical friends who share insurmountable odds with the
hero or the heroine.
The virtuous hero or vivacious heroine
is hounded by a villain and then rescued from a series of life
threatening events as an episodic story unfolds.
like disguise, abduction, concealed identity and fortunate
coincidence are often used just to keep the audience guessing what
will come next. Characters such as friends of the hero or heroine
provide comic relief and, of course, help out with the singing and
dancing. Melodramas are perfect for ad-libs and improvisation and
incorporating a fair amount of each keep the productions fresh each
and every night.
Each scene typically ends with a climax and
often the villain looks like he will succeed in his nefarious plot.
Look for plenty of fist fights and shoot 'em-ups in these thrilling
tales of passion and greed and goodness and villainy. The audience
will boo the villain and cheer the hero and are even encouraged to
grab a foam "rock" or two (or popcorn or what have you) that have
been scattered around the audience and hurl, toss or lob them at the
villain as he displays his larceny on stage. You might want to
remind your audiences to "Please avoid lobbing the foam "rocks" at
your beautiful heroine or your stalwart hero and only throw the foam
"rocks" that you provide". Real rocks tossed on stage tend to keep
actors from returning for their next performance.
Melodies Make The Melodrama
The "melo" in melo-dramas comes from the melody used to highlight
and underscore the productions. From "honky-tonk" or "rag time"
pianos to authentic cowboy guitar music, just about any live music
on stage will do to help you stay true to old western style
melodrama. We also recommend that you have a sound effects "Wizard"
or "Lackey" to provide live sound effects for each rip-roaring
Many of the elements that make
up modern melodramas come from ancient theatre traditions. For
example, Audience's vocalization, for example, is a long-held custom
each year in the re-enactment of the story of Esther. The audience
is encouraged to boo and hiss and shake noisemakers when the evil
villain Haman's name is even mentioned and cheering always
accompanies the mention of either of the heroes Esther and Mordecai.
Although some of the elements of American Melodrama have their
roots in old world theatre ... as a genre ... we feel safe in saying
that old west style Melodrama is unique and should be considered an
American art form ... such as Jazz or Baseball.
America ... theatres, playhouses, schools and communities keep
Melodrama alive and audiences love to attend these productions. Here
are a few suggestions to make your melodrama even more successful
whether you write your own, purchase one from HeroandVillain.com or
from one of the many prolific producers of modern melodramas that
you will find referenced on our Melodrama Scripts page or in our
Bring in your villain (or villains) early ...
so the audience can participate.
Foam "rocks" or "bricks" can be
used to throw at the villain instead of popcorn.
melodramas are the norm and work well even for melodrama dinner
Each act needs roughly 45 minutes of script (about 90
minutes in total) worth of dialogue & singing.
It is very common
to include some musical interlude (called an "olio") during
The bigger the cast ... the larger your audiences.
Families love to attend and cheer or boo relatives.
playhouses double-cast roles and add many extras to increase
Corny jokes can only go so far ... a well
written clever script is the foundation of a good production.
Don't underestimate the intelligence of your audiences. Treat them
to a professional production.
And if you can afford it ... use
quality props and authentic wardrobe to pack the audience.
as with any play ... consider a one room multi-part set to avoid
Keep things simple and allow the actors to have
fun with ad-libs making it a new play every night!
It often comes
down to which hat you wear! Spend time on great costumes and you
will not regret it.
Always Remember That Melodrama is
Essentially a Theatre of Emotions
A gesture here, an
inflection there. “Over the Top” facial and physical expressions
that you might typify as sensational, sentimental or thrilling is
what audiences expect to see at an old west style melodrama. The
acting style brings an exuberance of emotions rather than the more
realistic motivations we normally experience in life. And it's fun.
In Melodrama every character, every action, every predicament
needs to stay true to their character. The good guys are really
good, and the villain is really bad … that’s just how it is. Happy
endings are the rule and the villain always gets what he deserves in
the end. Conflict, misadventure and desperation are resolved at the
very last moment, unexpected revelations, unexpected twists or turns
are all ingredients of the successful melodrama.
On stage ...
the results of small actions taken are not necessarily recognized,
but the consequences are foreshadowed to increase the tension
inherent in the play. It is not telegraphed but set up so that there
is some sense of expectation of what might occur. The decisions that
characters ‘might take’ and 'might not' take are presented as
possible alternatives and the audience can envision.
result, when things do not go as might be expected, the audience is
moved into a state of wondering of what might happen next. The
actors knowing what is actually going to happen can help push the
limits of audience frustration and take them where they never
thought they would go and it can be a lot of goof family friendly
the plot lines in melodramas are pretty much "black and white" ...
Villain versus Hero ... Evil versus Good, the emotions are also very
easy to determine and extreme. Here is how to express them on stage.
Anger - The actor’s
hands are both shoulder high … eyebrows are pushed toward each other
with the actor’s face in a grimace … hands in tight fists.
Fear - The actor’s face is turned to the right side… eyes wide …
with the right hand to the mouth, fingers curled under touching the
top of the palm. Optionally both hands can come to the cheeks with
the fingers extended.
Grief or Sorrow -
The actor’s shoulders
rounded … head down and hands cupping the face. Shoulders rise up
and down … with a sobbing noise.
Love (Male) -
chest is held high with his right hand crossing the chest and
resting over the heart - opening out to the right and his loved one.
Love (Female) - The actor’s chest is held high with her head
cocked a bit to one side the opposite leg goes out with foot pointed
… hands under the chin … fingers entwined and bent at the first and
second knuckles, hands then go out towards her beloved with a broad
beaming smile on her face.
Villainous Scheming - One eyebrow
up, the other down, a grimace on the face and hands rubbing
together, if it is a really good plan, the fingers twiddle.
Villainous Sneaking - Shoulders hunched over, one arm raised to
cover the nose on down, eyes free to shift around the room, legs
bent on the cross of the stage. If you have one … twirl your black
cape or duster as you enter the scene.
Feeling Overwhelmed -
Chin up bringing the face to look up, one arm dropped limp to the
side, the other hand open with palm towards the audience on the top
of the forehead. But don't be overwhelmed ... purchase a
HeroAndVIllain.com Melodrama today! You will be so glad that you
Always remember that Melodrama is an audience
participation style of entertainment and your villain may want to
memorize several dozen snappy “come backs” to the inevitable
heckler’s remark. A list of these “Heckler Comebacks” is available
in Hero and Villain's Website's FREE DOWNLOADS PAGE. Go ahead and
visit that page and explore all of the great resources available ...
We know you really want to!
A Few Heroic and Villainous Quotes
"Nature abhors a hero. For one thing, he violates the law of
conservation of energy. For another, how can it be the survival of
the fittest when the fittest keeps putting himself in situations
where he is most likely to be creamed?"
- Solomon Short
got to love the villain if you have to play him. You've got to find
something that you can live within yourself if you're going to play
the villain in a play on stage."
"The same energy of character which renders a
man a daring villain would have rendered him useful in society had
that society been well organized."
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
"In the old days
villains had moustaches and kicked the dog. Audiences are smarter
today. They don't want their villain to be thrown at them with green
limelight on his face. They want an ordinary human being with
- Alfred Hitchcock
"A villain must be a thing of power, handled with delicacy
and grace. He must be wicked enough to excite our aversion, strong
enough to arouse our fear, human enough to awaken some transient
gleam of sympathy. We must triumph in his downfall, yet not
barbarously nor with contempt, and the close of his career must be
in harmony with all its previous development."
- Agnes Repplier
it comes to the point, really bad men are just as rare as really
- George Bernard Shaw