Role (theater)

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A role (from Medieval Latin rotula : "scroll") is the text that a performer has to speak within a drama , derived from a figure he designed or just a behavioral pattern . The art of acting consists in the formation of a role. The term is used in acting, singing and dance , in theater as well as in film and television .

In opera and ballet one usually speaks of the role of a singer or dancer. Especially in the operetta there are speaking roles in addition to the sung parts . In every type of theater one also knows silent roles , which are mostly supporting roles . The hero of the play has the main role . If an actor plays several characters, one speaks of a multiple role , with two characters of a double role . All roles are listed in a list at the beginning of the play ( Dramatis personae ). Today it is mostly the director who decides on the cast and directs the role studies.

The collective term for roles of the same kind is called role subject , including character roles . If a woman performs a male role , one speaks of a trouser role .

The concept of role is also extended to daily life, where it is a question of social roles that social psychology and sociology deal with.

Concept history

The term comes from the scroll that was used for longer texts, such as speeches , from antiquity to modern times (see also conducting role ). Texts for actors were notated in roll form in the later 16th century, when this term became common in theater.

In the case of unprinted theater pieces, i.e. most of the repertoire , until the 19th century, only the text of the actor's role was written out for each actor - usually with key words that denoted the performance. The name of the character was on the cover sheet along with the title of the play. Actors could rarely read the whole play, they only knew their role. This was not only for economic reasons, but also prevented the play from coming into circulation and being re-enacted by other theater companies.

See also


  • Günter Langer: Role. In: Manfred Brauneck, Gérard Schneilin (Hrsg.): Theaterlexikon. Vol. 1, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 5th edition 2007, ISBN 978-3-499-55673-9 , pp. 864-865