Encoding drama: overview

drama stage direction act scene
castItem castList sp speaker stage

The basic components for encoding drama are quite straightforward, and match the obvious features of most dramatic texts. We give an overview here, with pointers to more detailed discussion of specific features and problems.

In the TEI, dramatic acts and scenes (if present) are encoded using div type="act" and div type="scene". This allows you to encode whatever structure is actually present: if the drama has acts but no scene subdivisions, use only div type="act"; if the drama has only scenes, use div type="scene". A play with no internal subdivisions would be encoded simply as text without any internal div elements. The act and scene numbering may be encoded on the n attribute of div (see examples). You may choose to reproduce the numbering scheme of the source (e.g. use of roman and arabic numerals), or to regularize it. If there are errors in the act or scene numbering, the n attribute should carry a corrected value.

Within these subdivisions, speeches are encoded with sp. The sp element carries a who attribute which identifies the person speaking. Speeches may be in prose (in which case they contain paragraphs) or in verse (in which case they contain lines of verse, or line groups). For more detail, see the entry on speakers.

Speaker labels, which indicate who is speaking, are encoded with speaker, typically as the first child of sp.

Stage directions are encoded with stage. If you want to categorize different types of stage directions (entrances, exits, business, etc.) for analysis, you can do so with the type attribute. For more detail, see stage directions and The type attribute of stage.

Cast lists are encoded with castList, which is essentially a special type of list: it consists of a series of castItem elements, each of which groups together a role and a roleDesc to capture the name of the role and the accompanying description. For more detail, see cast lists and cast list special cases.


Example 1. Act and scene structure and numbering

<div type="act" n="IV">
     <div type="scene" n="1"></div>
     <div type="scene" n="2"></div>
     <div type="scene" n="3"></div>