Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.
Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.
An act is the traditional way playwrights break up the action of a play. The number of acts in a play varies. You'll usually find five acts in plays by Big Willy Shakespeare, while modern playwrights use any number of acts. The one-act play has only a single act. Saw that coming, right?