How to Write a Definition Essay in Film and Theatre Studies

The main purpose of writing a definition essay in film and theatre studies is for the student to provide a definition of some person, event, or term. With the aid of a thoroughly researched definition essay, the writer not only provides the meaning of a particular word, but also describes the word in detail supported with examples and facts. As a standard rule, the explanation is necessary in case the person, event, or term is influential, special or has no specific meaning. For instance, some people interpret ‘blocking’ and ‘beginners’ in theatre studies different ways.

Usually, college students are required to create a definition essay during their academic studies to help them improve their knowledge of theatre and film and advance their English skills.

Importance of Theatre

  1. Helps us perceive things differently. Through theatre, we get to see conflict and resolution, motivations, psychology and humanity. As the audience, we witness the trajectory of persons apart from ourselves. As artists, we put ourselves into intellectual and emotional situations that may never crop up in our lives.  Theatre promotes us to advocate for diverse and new voices, take risks, and give power to truth.
  2. It reminds us that we have company in our experiences. Not only do we share experiences and space with the performing artists, we share the experience with other audience members. Television and movies do not provide the same sense of participation and intimacy. Sharing an experience with a live audience members and live actors is valuable and necessary for human connection.
  3. Theatre is instant, evolving and diverse. Although the script remains the same each night, the performance is unique each time it happens. In this way, each person involved has a unique and distinct experience that cannot be replicated.
  4. Live theatre helps in promotion of potential social change, dialogue, and social discourse. Theatre is a cultural occurrence that makes the society examines itself in the mirror. It enables us study societal problems and try to find solutions to these problems. It is necessary to come together as a community and listen to opposing viewpoints.
  5. It promotes literacy and education. Studies show that students who take theatre education perform better in school. When students take risks in class and perform for an audience, they learn to trust their abilities and ideas. This confidence applies in almost all aspects of their future. Also, through film and theatre studies students find an outlet for thinking new ideas, making creative choices, and interpret the material expressively. In film and theatre studies, students learn to communicate the why, when, where, what, and who to their audience. Improvisation promotes quick-thinking solutions leading to greater life adaptability.

Elements of Theatre

The following are the main elements of theatre:


These are the people on stage presenting characters in a dramatic action. The audience sees the performer who pretends to be someone else. When an actor or actress is live on stage, they must make the audience believe in the character they are representing. If you fail to convince your audience, they will become disinterested in the production.


The spirit of theatre is the relationship between the performer and the audience. Theatre needs a live experience with a ‘call and response’ atmosphere, which you cannot experience in a movie theatre. When in a live theatre, if the audience cries or laughs out loud, the performers instantly react to the energy. This is contrary to watching a movie where there is no connection between the audience and the actors, only audience reactions.


The director ensures that the performers/actors understand the script and deliver it appropriately and excitingly. He also ensures that set designs, costume designs, blocking and other show aspects blend together to make a functioning production. All theatre aspects should be complimentary, and the director makes sure that it happens.

Theatre Space

Another essential element of theatre is the place where audiences and performers come together. It is vital to have a stage or a space of equivalent measure, where actresses and actors perform. Audience members also need a place to sit or stand.

Design Aspects

These include visual aspects such as lighting, costumes, and some aspect of scenic background, and non-visual aspects like sound.

How to Write a Definition Essay in Film and Theatre Studies

Theatre is the most outstanding art of life. It is a joint effort bringing together different people into a single solid group where they work together amicably to present a certain piece of art, concept, or idea. Theatre deals different emotions and it is often expected to leave a mark or stimulate sentiments in an audience. Art lies within human imagination; hence the mind plays a significant role in theatre. Our mind stimulates different kinds of strong emotions such as joy, anger, power, and more. These feelings created by the mind make theatre the most noteworthy life art. As such, when writing a definition essay in film and theatre studies, you should first understand what a definition essay is and then choose the write topic to leave an impression with your audience.

What is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay is a piece of writing that explains the meaning of a concept or term. Some terms have clear meanings while others are abstract where their meaning depends on a person’s viewpoint. When writing a definition essay, start by telling the readers the term you are defining. This should be followed by basic but clear information about the term using examples and facts understandable to the readers.

How to Choose an Exciting Topic

Choosing an exciting topic for your definition essay in film and theatre studies is the first step in creating a great paper. The first thing is to choose a term to define. Considering that the definition essay has to include an extended explanation of the term, apart from what is available in the dictionary, we suggest that you select a broad term to define. The main point to note is that you will not create a high quality essay by choosing terms such as ‘play’ or ‘stage’. This is because these terms have a narrow meaning. Therefore, it is advisable to select broad terms when writing a definition essay in film and theatre studies. Doing this will give you more opportunities to define the term broadly, support it with explanations and your viewpoints. Remember to include real life examples to support your definition. You can consider defining any of the following topics for your essay in film and theatre studies.

  • Acting Integrative
  • Amateur Theory
  • Documentary filmmaking
  • Feminist Film
  • Gender Roles in Motion Pictures
  • Media Acting
  • Screenwriting
  • Streaming Media

Contrary to other academic essays, such as book reviews or descriptive essays, a definition essay in film and theatre studies is different as it requires the student to provide a dictionary definition of the term and then develop a thesis definition. Bearing in mind that dictionary definitions are dry and narrow, you have to encompass the meaning of the term using the thesis definition.

Choose a Familiar Concept

If you are having problems choosing a topic, you can look for something you understand or now. This will ease the research process and make the writing more fun. For example, you can pick a term like ‘screenwriting’ because you are familiar with it and can write a lot about how to be a screen writer and succeed in it.

Look for Credible Evidence

When writing about film and theatre studies, you will not lack sources of information. But, be cautious about the sources you choose to use. It is essential to include topic-related quotes from sources like NationalTheatre, Intofilm or Britannica. You can also use quotes from printed books and journals. Another option is to include quotes from interviews of well-known actors that will define the term more reliably. Remember to follow the citation style provided by your professor, such as MLA, Chicago, or APA.

How to Create a Definition Essay Outline

Just like other college essays, you have to develop a tangible plan to write a great definition essay in film and theatre studies. An essay plan is a brief draft of the paper that informs the reader about some crucial elements of it and explains the idea. Your professor may require you to create an outline of the definition essay as it will help in creating a supreme quality paper. Generally, the following should not miss in a definition essay in film and theatre studies:

  • An introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • Main body paragraphs
  • A conclusion


The introductory paragraph opens the subject of your definition essay paper. It should start by hooking the reader’s attention followed by an introduction of the topic. Start the paragraph with a unique hook to make the target audience curious about the rest of the paper. As writing professionals, we suggest using interesting facts, impressive statistics, quotations, or anecdotes that will provide a solid background for the topic in question. In contrast to other essays, definition essays require the writer to provide a dictionary definition of the concept followed by the thesis definition.

Create the Main Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph included in the definition essay in film and theatre studies must talk about a specific aspect of the topic. It should add to the general definition of the term you are defining in the essay. As a standard rule, you have to write at least three body paragraphs in your definition essay, but you can include more if you have more things to discuss.

Paragraph One: History

The first paragraph in the main body section should discuss the origin of the term or word. It should also explain how the chosen term became part of a certain language. You can freely discuss any root words, prefixes, suffixes, as well as the evolution of the term.

Paragraph Two: Denotative Definition

The second body paragraph should focus on the definition of the term as it is found in a dictionary. It should also talk about how the term can be applied in oral communication or in the writing process. For example, the word ‘film’ can come out as two parts of speech like a noun and a verb.

Paragraph Three: Connotative Definition

The main body’s third paragraph, which is usually the longest, conveys the author’s definition of the term. However, keep in mind that what you present should be based on research done on the topic as well as your experiences.

Do not shy away from including your ideas and thoughts. As the author of a definition essay in film and theatre studies, you have an excellent opportunity to explain a chosen term in a unique way. In other words, be original in your writing to attract and sustain the attention of your readers easily.

Definition Essay Conclusion

Just the way you create a final paragraph for a narrative or descriptive essay, a college definition essay should also have a logical conclusion. The main goal of the project is to give your audience with a concise and clear definition of the word or term. In the conclusion part, sum up all the information discussed in the body paragraphs. In other words, the conclusion paragraph is a brief version of the definition essay. As the author, you are free to explain how the term or word influenced or influences your life. The main point to note is that readers appreciate writers who share their experiences with their audience.


After you finish writing your definition essay, take some time off and then come back to it for proofreading.

Check Over the Essay for Content

When editing and proofreading your paper, start with the main areas and finish with the minute details. To be precise, check if you are satisfied with the way your essay works as a whole. Is the essay logically consistent? Did you jump to conclusions without presenting sufficient evidence? Does your reasoning have any gaps? Did you miss mentioning a crucial point?  Do individual parts follow each other optimally? Do you need to rearrange the essay?

Expunge the Exterior

You can improve your essay by removing something that does not add value to the overall function of the essay. Excessive paragraphs, sentences or words can be removed so long as it does not affect your argument. Reread your essay and ask yourself if every element serves a certain purpose. If an element only serves to increase the word count or you like the way it sounds, remove it mercilessly.

Check for Spelling and Grammar

Your professor expects your paper to be free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Everyone is aware of their weaknesses in grammar and spelling, make a list of these and reread your essay focusing on the mistakes you’ve written. You can also use online grammar checkers and spellcheckers to identify mistakes that may elude your attention. However, do not rely on them too much as they are not very helpful with complex grammatical structures.

Things to Avoid in Definition Essay Writing

Now that you have an idea of how to write a definition essay in film and theatre studies, let us highlight some of the things you should not do when writing this type of college paper:

  • Do not choose a definition essay topic in film and theatre studies that is too narrow or too well-known. Note that people are not interested in reading about obvious things.
  • Your essay should not be excessively detailed. But, you should not be too brief in your writing. For example, if you are writing a definition essay on Broadway theatres, details such as the number of seats are not necessary. Always be aware of your essay’s word limit as you write.
  • Avoid defining the term in every other sentence including the definition itself. For instance, your readers won’t appreciate it if you write ‘screenwriting is where you write scripts for screen.’
  • Do not forget to include examples in your film and theatre studies definition essay. Undoubtedly, you present a detailed and clear definition of the chosen term. Failure to provide substantial examples will make your readers find it hard to comprehend how or when this or that term should be used.

Ask one of your friends or member of your family to read your definition essay and give an honest feedback. Allow them to give you their definition for the term. Creativity is essential in a definition essay; however, you should allow others to exercise their creativity with your essay. Ask the person helping you if your definition is clear and easy to understand. Enquire from them if the supporting details you provided are enough and if it is necessary to look for more information to create a well-developed paper. When you decide to seek the opinion of another person, you should be open to any kind of criticism as it may helpful in improving your definition essay in film and theatre studies.

Film and theatre studies are broad as they are entangled other disciplines, such as literature, English and psychology. It can be intimidating to write q high-quality definition essay on this subject especially if doing it for the first time. It is our hope that this guide will be helpful when encountering such an assignment.

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