Useful Ways To Revise Your English Plays I Oxford Open Learning

Useful Ways To Revise Your English Plays

You will be well aware that the study of plays is an important element of your English Literature course. J.B. Prisetley’s An Inspector Calls is a particular favourite, as is Macbeth, Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. Revising a play requires, to an extent, a different approach to other types of text.

So, how can you revise the key dramatic texts that are part of your English Literature examinations?


Firstly, remember that a play is written to be performed – so try and see yourself as a member of the audience of that play. Consider the dramatic devices the playwright has used to interest you – such as dramatic irony* and foreshadowing**. You might want to read key sections of your plays alongside listening to audio recordings, or watching screen or TV adaptations.

Another suggestion is to try and read out sections with some other people – this is a good way of getting into character (so remember to read the stage directions, too). Plays show you clearly who is speaking and how they are behaving.

You might be asked to focus on an extract from a play – one that concentrates on a specific character, such as Lady Macbeth, or a theme such as relationships. One good way of revising is to choose different extracts from your play – and to really ‘zoom in’ on a specific aspect of this. If you want to broaden your ideas further, you can think about how the extract ties into other parts of the play, too.

The Context Of Plays

Understanding context is crucial – when the play was written, what was happening at the time – and so is how the writer has incorporated such details into their writing. You can develop your knowledge further by researching information online and watching audio-video clips can help.

You are writing about a play, so always refer to it as this – it’s not a poem, or a novel. The main difference between a play and poetry/prose is who it is aimed at and the fact it has been written to be performed on the stage. If you can remember this, you’ll be on the right path to success.

*Dramatic irony: When the audience members/readers know more than the characters in the play.

**Foreshadowing: A hint at what is to come later in the play.

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