play


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play

1. a dramatic composition written for performance by actors on a stage, on television, etc.; drama
2. 
a. the performance of a dramatic composition
b. (in combination): playreader

play

any activity which is voluntary, gives pleasure, and has no apparent goal other than enjoyment.

A classical conceptualization of the play form in social life is Simmel's concept of SOCIABILITY. However, although to achieve its purpose sociability ideally must be divorced from ulterior 'serious‘ purpose, the importance of the functions served by sociability and play are left in no doubt. See also HOMO LUDENS, LEISURE, SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT.

The functions of play within child socialization are equally an important issue. Play is widely seen as essential for physical development, for learning skills and social behaviour and for personality development (see Millar, 1968, for full discussion). Play therapy is used as a technique for understanding young children's psychological problems and helping to resolve them (see KLEIN).

Play

 

a type of nonproductive activity motivated not by its result but by the process itself. Play has existed throughout man’s entire history, interweaving with magic, rituals and cults, sports, military and other training, and art, particularly in its dramatic forms. Play is also characteristic of the higher animals. Cultural historians, ethnologists, psychologists (especially child psychologists), historians of religion, scholars of the arts, and researchers in sports and military affairs all study play. In mathematical game theory, play is defined as the mathematical model of a situation of conflict. The origin of play was considered to lie in magic and cult needs or in the innate biological necessities of the organism; it was also deduced from labor processes (G. V. Plekhanov, Letters Without an Address).

Play is connected to both training and relaxation because it simulates conflicts that are difficult or impossible to solve in the practical sphere of activity. Therefore, play is not only physical training but also the means of psychological preparation for future life situations. As an abstract model of conflict, play is easily turned into a form for expressing social contradictions—for example, the transformation of sports “fans” at the stadium into political parties in medieval Byzantium or children’s games as models of social conflicts in the adult world.

Play is related to art through the psychological orientation of the player, who simultaneously believes and does not believe in the reality of the conflict being performed, and through the corresponding dual character of his behavior. The question of the correlation of play and art was raised by I. Kant and given philosophical and anthropological substantiation by F. Schiller, who saw in play a specifically human form of vital activity: “a man plays only when he is in the full sense of the word a man, and he is fully a man only when he plays” (Sobr. soch., vol. 6, Moscow, 1957, p. 302). The genetic connection of art and play is likewise noted in positivistic conceptions of the origin of art —for example, in A.N. Veselovskii’s theory of syncretic primitive art and of the origin of art in rite and pageant.”

Both play and art, directed at mastering the world, possess a common property—they propose solutions not in the practical but in the conditional symbolic sphere, which can be used then as a model for practical behavior in the real world. There is, however, an essential difference between play and art. Play represents the mastery of a skill, a form of training, and a modeling of an activity and is characterized by the presence of a system of rules.

IU. M. LOTMAN

The German philosopher and psychologist K. Groos (1899) developed the first fundamental concept of play in psychology: in the play of animals, he saw the preliminary adaptation (“pre-exercise”) of the instincts to the conditions of future life. Before Groos, the English philosopher H. Spencer had viewed play as a manifestation of “surplus energy.” The theory of the Austrian psychologist K. Biihler on “functional pleasure” as the internal subjective motive for play was an important amendment to Groos’ teaching. The Dutch zoopsychologist F. Buytendijk proposed a theory opposed to Groos’: he thought that, rather than instincts, it was the more general primordial drives, which are beyond instincts, that underlay play (the drive for liberation, the drive to merge with one’s surroundings, and the drive for repetition). In the psychoanalytical conception of the Austrian physician S. Freud, play is regarded as wish fulfillment.

In Soviet psychology, the approach to play as a sociohistorical phenomenon was developed by L.S. Vygotskii, A.N. Leont’ev, and D.B. El’konin. Children’s games, in particular, are regarded as a way of including the child in the world of human actions and relationships. Children’s games arise at the stage of social development when highly evolved forms of labor prevent the child’s direct participation in labor at the same time as his upbringing creates a yearning for a joint life with adults.

REFERENCES

Plekhanov, G.V. Soch., vol. 14. Moscow, 1925. Pages 54–64.
Leont’ev, A.N. Problemy razvitiia psikhiki. Moscow, 1971.
Groos, K. Die Spiele der Tiere. Jena, 1896.
Groos, K. Die Spiele des Menschen. Jena, 1899.
Biihler, K. Die Krise der Psychologic Jena, 1929.
Buytendijk, F.J. Wesen und Sinn des Spiels. Berlin, 1934.
Huizinga, j. Homo ludens. London, 1949.

I. B. DAUNIS

play

[plā]
(mechanical engineering)
Free or unimpeded motion of an object, such as the motion between poorly fitted or worn parts of a mechanism.

play

The separation between moving parts to reduce friction.

play

A term used to indicate the relative movement between parts. As in the case of flight controls, play is the amount of movement of the control stick or the yoke without causing any movement of the control surfaces.

PLAY

(language, music)
A language for real-time music synthesis. 1977.

["An Introduction to the Play Program", J. Chadabe ete al, Computer Music J 2,1 (1978)].
References in classic literature ?
If we would picture to ourselves what these first English plays were like, we must not think of a brilliantly lighted theater pranked out and fine with red and gold and white such as we know.
It was in such solemn surroundings that our first plays were played.
These plays which the monks made were called Mystery or Miracle plays.
But although these plays were looked upon as an act of religion, they were not all solemn.
All the plays of the cycle were commonly performed in a single day, beginning, at the first station, perhaps as early as five o'clock in the morning; but sometimes three days or even more were employed.
We have said that the plays were always composed in verse.
The plays were given sometimes in the halls of nobles and gentlemen, either when banquets were in progress or on other festival occasions; sometimes before less select audiences in the town halls or on village greens.
The various dramatic forms from the tenth century to the middle of the sixteenth at which we have thus hastily glanced--folk-plays, mummings and disguisings, secular pageants, Mystery plays, Moralities, and Interludes--have little but a historical importance.
The pause which followed this fruitless effort was ended by the same speaker, who, taking up one of the many volumes of plays that lay on the table, and turning it over, suddenly exclaimed--"Lovers' Vows
The effect is so equal from either experience that I am not sure as to some plays whether I read them or saw them first, though as to most of them I am aware that I never saw them at all; and if the whole truth must be told there is still one of his plays that I have not read, and I believe it is esteemed one of his greatest.
In those early days I had no philosophized preference for reality in literature, and I dare say if I had been asked, I should have said that the plays of Shakespeare where reality is least felt were the most imaginative; that is the belief of the puerile critics still; but I suppose it was my instinctive liking for reality that made the great Histories so delightful to me, and that rendered "Macbeth" and "Hamlet" vital in their very ghosts and witches.
I cannot tell whether it was because I found them like my ideals here, or whether my ideals acquired merit because of their likeness to the realities there; they appeared to be all of one degree of enchanting loveliness; but upon the whole I must have preferred them in the plays, because it was so much easier to get on with them there; I was always much better dressed there; I was vastly handsomer; I was not bashful or afraid, and I had some defects of these advantages to contend with here.