The short play "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson contains all of the elements a play should have: a plot summary, characters, a theme, diction and language, music and sound effects, and spectacle.
"The Lottery" is about a traditional custom done in a small town once a year on June 27th. In the beginning, two boys are picking up stones. It seems very mundane and seems like something small-town children would do. After a few minutes, a steeple bell begins to chime, and some men begin to come into the square. As time goes by, more people gather and converse quietly, both men and women alike. One of the men's wives, Tessie Hutchison, was notably missing from the square until only a few minutes before the drawing, but she defends herself, saying that she "clean forgot what day it was" (315). However, Bill Hutchison took her aside and asked her why she was late, and why she tried to hide their son Davy in the barn loft. Tessie knew that the Lottery was to be held that day, but she tried to pass it off as forgetfulness. She disagrees with this tradition, but nevertheless, the Lottery still continues.
After a while, Joe Summers, the head man, appears with a black box older than many of the villagers themselves and a sheaf of papers. He has a boy named Jack Wilkins stir the papers in the box with a wooden paddle while he checks the list of names to make sure everyone was accounted for. Later, after every head of each family had drawn a slip of paper from the box, they all open the slips of paper to see if they have a black dot in the center. The Hutchisons are the one with the black dot, and then each person in the Hutchison family — Bill, Tessie, and Davy — draw a slip of paper again from the box, despite Tessie claiming that Bill hadn't had enough time to draw. After Davy's and Bill's slips are shown to be blank, the villagers know that Tessie is the one with the black spot on hers. Bill forces Tessie to open her paper, revealing the dot. Tessie yells, telling everyone that it isn't fair, it wasn't done right, but she is trapped by the villagers, who stone her to death.
There are several characters that are prominent in this play. There are two main protagonists: Belva Summers and Tessie Hutchison. Neither protagonist is revealed to us in the play immediately, but toward the middle of the play, among the villagers. Belva is the sister of Joe Summers, the head man in charge of the Lottery. She believes that this tradition is something that should be stopped, but she stays in the town because she is waiting for Joe's name to be picked. Tessie, the other protagonist, is the wife of Bill Hutchison. She doesn't say that the tradition should be stopped, saying that there must be some good in it if it had been going on for so long, but she doesn't want Davy participating so soon, while he's so young. The antagonist in "The Lottery" is the Lottery itself. Even though it's tradition, it acts against the protagonists' beliefs, and even ends up killing Tessie.
The theme of this play is that tradition isn't always the right thing. It may be something that has gone back generations and generations, but it doesn't mean it's always morally correct. In this case, this tradition kills someone, taking them away from everything. However, even their families take part in this tradition, hurting them emotionally as well as physically.
The language in "The Lottery" is different in style than modern-day English. The use of contractions and slang indicate that the villagers of the are not extremely educated, if at all. Most of the people firmly believe in keeping things as they were when the town started, with the Lottery, farming, and staying with the old ways of life. Many of them can't even imagine a different, modernized life, despite the fact that most of the other small towns in the area have modernized themselves in both their ways and probably everything else, as well including language, education, and lifestyles.
For this play, there are several sound effects and music that I would use. For example, in the beginning, I would use chimes to mimic the steeple bell ringing while the boys are collecting rocks. During the drawing, I would have quiet but suspenseful music playing in the background while everyone draws the slips of paper. The music would be a bit more intense when Hutchison reveals the black dot on his paper, but will stop when Tessie's paper is revealed. Then, the music would start up again when Tessie is trapped among the people and will suddenly stop when everyone goes quiet.
For the setting of "The Lottery", I would have the set consist of a row of houses and a church, which is where the bell would sound from. There would also be a high stool and a black, wooden box, as well as a wooden paddle and a stack of papers. In the box, there would be enough slips of paper for every actor and actress onstage, and one with a black dot in the center. For the costumes, the women would have plain or patched cotton dresses and some sort of head cover, like a bonnet. The men would have overalls and cotton shirts as well as straw hats, since I feel that this play takes place in either the late 1800's or early 1900's. The children would have similar clothing. Makeup would be minimal, perhaps just some foundation and highlighting. The lighting would be bright, since it's the middle of the day when the Lottery starts.
The play "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson is a play that makes you question the value and morals of certain traditions, and whether they should continue, whether people agree or not. This play, like most, contains all of the elements a play should have: a plot summary, characters, a theme, diction and language, music and sound effects, and spectacle.