Metatheatre, and the closely related term metadrama, describes the aspects of a play that draw attention to its nature as drama or theatre, or to the circumstances of its performance. These may include: the direct address of the audience (especially in soliloquies, asides, prologues, and epilogues); expression of an awareness of the presence of the audience (whether they are addressed directly or not); an acknowledgement of the fact that the people performing are actors (and not actually the characters they are playing); an element whose meaning depends on the difference between the represented time and place of the drama (the fictional world) and the time and place of its theatrical presentation (the reality of the theatre event); plays-within-plays (or masques, spectacles, or other forms of performance within the drama); references to acting, theatre, dramatic writing, spectatorship, and the frequently employed metaphor according to which "all the world's a stage" (Theatrum mundi); scenes involving eavesdropping or other situations in which one or several characters observe another or others, such that the former relate to the behaviour of the latter as if it were a staged performance for their benefit. The words "metatheatre" and "metadrama" combine theatre or drama with the Greek prefix "meta—", which implies "a level beyond" the subject that it qualifies.
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main subject: metatheatre

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