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A play is a work of
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...

drama
, usually consisting mostly of
dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. ...
between
characters Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * Character (novel), ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * Characters (Theophrastus), ''Characters'' (Theophrastus), a classical Greek set of char ...
and intended for
theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The pe ...

theatrical
performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. Management science In the work place, ...

performance
rather than just
reading Reading is the process of taking in the sense or meaning of letters, symbols, ''etc.'', especially by sight or touch. For educators and researchers, reading is a multifaceted process involving such areas as word recognition, orthography (spelli ...
. The writer of a play is a
playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital co ...
. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from London's
West End West End most commonly refers to: * West End of London, an area of central London, England * West End theatre, a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London, England West End may also refer to: Place ...
and
Broadway Broadway may refer to: Theatre * Broadway Theatre (disambiguation) * Broadway theatre, theatrical productions in professional theatres near Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, U.S. ** Broadway (Manhattan), the street **Broadway Theatre (53rd Str ...
in New York City – which are the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world – to regional theatre, to
community theatreCommunity theatre refers to theatrical performance made in relation to particular communities—its usage includes theatre made by, with, and for a community. It may refer to theatre that is made entirely by a community with no outside help, or to a ...
, as well as university or school productions. A stage play is a play performed, and written to be performed, on stage rather than broadcast or made into a movie. Stage plays are those performed on any stage before an audience. There are rare dramatists, notably
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (; 26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from ...

George Bernard Shaw
, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.


Comedy

Comedies are plays which are designed to be humorous. Comedies are often filled with witty remarks, unusual characters, and strange circumstances. Certain comedies are geared toward different age groups.
Comedies Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television ...

Comedies
were one of the two original play types of
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, along with tragedies. An example of a comedy would be
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's and the " of A ...

William Shakespeare
's play ''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a comedy Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, es ...

A Midsummer Night's Dream
'', or for a more modern example the skits from ''
Saturday Night Live ''Saturday Night Live'' (also known as ''SNL'') is an American late-night live television sketch comedy Sketch comedy comprises a series of short, amusing scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long, ...

Saturday Night Live
''.


Farce

A generally nonsensical genre of play,
farce Farce is a comedy Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, sta ...
s are often acted and often involve humor. An example of a farce includes William Shakespeare's play ''
The Comedy of Errors ''The Comedy of Errors'' is one of William Shakespeare's early plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated ph ...
'', or
Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his Mark Twain, was an American writer, , entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the "greatest humorist the United States has produced," and cal ...

Mark Twain
's play ''
Is He Dead? ''Is He Dead?'' is a play by Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a varia ...
''.


Satirical

A
satire Satire is a of the , , and s, usually in the form of and less frequently , in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, often with the intent of shaming or exposing the perceived flaws of individuals, corpora ...
play takes a comic look at current events, while at the same time attempting to make a political or social statement, for example pointing out
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying, or deliberately withholding information, or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, ...

corruption
. An example of a satire would be
Nikolai Gogol Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (; rus, Никола́й Васи́льевич Го́голь, r=Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol, p=nʲɪkɐˈlaj vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ˈgogəlʲ; uk, link=no, Мико́ла Васи́льович Го́голь, trans ...

Nikolai Gogol
's ''
The Government Inspector ''The Government Inspector'', also known as ''The Inspector General'' ( rus, links=no, Ревизор, Revizor, literally: "Inspector"), is a satirical play by Russian-Ukrainian dramatist and novelist, Nikolai Gogol. Originally published in 183 ...
'' and
Aristophanes Aristophanes (; grc, Ἀριστοφάνης, ; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme 250px, Pinakia, identification tablets (name, father's name, deme) used for tasks like jury selection, Museum at the Ancient Agora of Athen ...

Aristophanes
' ''
Lysistrata ''Lysistrata'' ( or ; Attic Greek Attic Greek is the Greek language, Greek dialect of the regions of ancient Greece, ancient region of Attica, including the ''polis'' of classical Athens, Athens. Often called classical Greek, it was the prestige ...

Lysistrata
''. Satire plays are generally one of the most popular forms of comedy, and often considered to be their own genre entirely.


Restoration comedy

Restoration comedy is a genre that explored relationships between men and women, and was considered risqué in its time. Characters featured in restoration comedy included stereotypes of all kinds, and these same stereotypes were found in most plays of this genre, so much so that most plays were very similar in message and content. However, since restoration comedy dealt with unspoken aspects of relationships, it created a type of connection between audience and performance that was more informal and private. It is commonly agreed that restoration comedy has origins in
Molière Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (; 15 January 1622 (baptised) – 17 February 1673), known by his stage name Molière (, , ), was a French playwright, actor, and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the and world literature. His ...

Molière
’s theories of comedy, but differs in intention and tone. The inconsistency between restoration comedy’s morals and the morals of the era is something that often arises during the study of this genre. This may give clues as to why, despite its original success, restoration comedy did not last long in the seventeenth century. However, in recent years, it has become a topic of interest for theatre theorists, who have been looking into theatre styles that have their own conventions of performance.


Tragedy

These plays contain darker themes such as death and disaster. Often the
protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays the first part, chief actor) is the main character ...
of the play has a tragic flaw, a trait which leads to their downfall. Tragic plays convey all emotions and have very dramatic conflicts.
Tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, balle ...

Tragedy
was one of the two original play types of Ancient Greece. Some examples of tragedies include William Shakespeare's ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and acto ...

Hamlet
'', and also
John Webster John Webster (c. 1580 – c. 1632) was an English English literature#Jacobean period (1603–1625), Jacobean dramatist best known for his tragedies ''The White Devil'' and ''The Duchess of Malfi'', which are often seen as masterpieces of the ear ...

John Webster
's play ''
The Duchess of Malfi ''The Duchess of Malfi'' (originally published as ''The Tragedy of the Dutchesse of Malfy'') is a Jacobean revenge tragedy Revenge tragedy (sometimes referred to as revenge drama, revenge play, or tragedy of blood) is a theoretical genre in ...
''.


Historical

These plays focus on actual historical events. They can be tragedies or comedies, but are often neither of these.
History History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

History
as a separate genre was popularised by William Shakespeare. Examples of historical plays include
Friedrich Schiller Johann Christoph Friedrich (von) Schiller (, short: ; 10 November 17599 May 1805) was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life (1788–1805), Schiller developed a productive, i ...

Friedrich Schiller
's ''
Demetrius Demetrius is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
'' and Shakespeare's ''
King John of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen re ...
''.


Musical theatre

Ballad opera, a popular theatre style at the time, was the first style of musical to be performed in the American colonies. The first musical of American origin was premiered in Philadelphia in 1767, and was called “The Disappointment”, however, this play never made it to production. Modern Western musical theatre emerged in the Victorian era, with many structural elements established by the works of
Gilbert and Sullivan Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union and Acts of Union. The core of the United Kin ...
in Britain and those of Harrigan and Hart in America. Around the 1920s, theatre styles were beginning to be defined more clearly. For musical theatre, this meant that composers gained the right to create every song in the play, and these new plays were held to more specific conventions, such as thirty-two-bar songs. When the Great Depression came, many people left Broadway for Hollywood, and the atmosphere of Broadway musicals changed significantly. A similar situation occurred during the 1960s, when composers were scarce and musicals lacked vibrancy and entertainment value. By the 1990s, there were very few original Broadway musicals, as many were recreations of movies or novels. Musical productions have songs to help explain the story and move the ideas of the play along. They are usually accompanied by dancing. Musicals can be very elaborate in settings and actor performances. Examples of musical productions include ''Wicked'' and ''Fiddler on the Roof''.


Theatre of Cruelty

This theatre style originated in the 1940s when Antonin Artaud hypothesised about the effects of expressing through the body as opposed to “by socially conditioned thought.” In 1946, he wrote a preface to his works in which he explained how he came to write what and the way he did. Above all, Artaud did not trust language as a means of communication. Plays within the genre of theatre of cruelty are abstract in convention and content. Artaud wanted his plays to have an effect and accomplish something. His intention was to symbolise the subconscious through bodily performances, as he did not believe language could be effective. Artaud considered his plays to be an enactment rather than a re-enactment, which meant he believed his actors were in reality, rather than re-enacting reality. His plays dealt with heavy issues such as patients in psych wards, and Nazi Germany. Through these performances, he wanted to “make the causes of suffering audible”, however, audiences originally reacted poorly, as they were so taken aback by what they saw. Much of his work was banned in France at the time. Artaud did not believe that conventional theatre of the time would allow the audience to have a cathartic experience and help heal the wounds of World War II. For this reason, he moved towards radio-based theatre, in which the audience could use their imagination to connect the words they were hearing to their body. This made his work much more personal and individualised, which he believed would increase the effectiveness of portraying suffering.


Theatre of the Absurd

Theatre of the Absurd: This genre generally includes metaphysical representations of existential qualms and questions. Theatre of the absurd denies rationality, and embraces the inevitability of falling into the abyss of the human condition. Instead of discussing these issues, however, theatre of the absurd is a demonstration of them. This leaves the audience to discuss and question the content of the play for themselves. One of the main aspects of theatre of the absurd is the physical contradiction to language. Oftentimes, the dialogue between characters will directly oppose their actions. Famous playwrights within this genre include Beckett, Sartre, Ionesco, Adamov, and Genet.


Terminology

The term "play" can be either a general term, or more specifically refer to a non-musical play. Sometimes the term "straight play" is used in contrast to "
musical Musical is the adjective of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music i ...
", which refers to a play based on
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
,
dance Dance is a performing art art form, form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement has aesthetic and often symbolism (arts), symbolic value. Dance can be categorized and described by its ...

dance
, and
song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...

song
s sung by the play's characters. For a short play, the term "playlet" is sometimes used. The term "script" refers to the written text of the play. After the
front matter Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specific ...
, such as title and author, it conventionally begins with a ''
dramatis personae Dramatis personae (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
'': a list presenting each of the main characters of the play by name, followed by a brief characterisation (e.g., ", a drunken Butler".) For a musical play (
opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a s ...

opera
,
light opera Comic opera, sometimes known as light opera, is a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature, usually with a happy ending and often including spoken dialogue. Forms of comic opera first developed in late 17th-century Italy. By the 1730s, a new ...
, or
musical Musical is the adjective of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music i ...
) the term "
libretto A libretto (Italian for "booklet") is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by Singing, singers, but is ...
" is commonly used, instead of "script". A play is usually divided into acts, similar to what chapters are in a novel. A short play may consist of only a single act, and then is called a "one-acter". Acts are subdivided into
scene Scene (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as ...
s. Acts are numbered, and so are scenes; the scene numbering starts again at 1 for each next act, so may be followed by . Each scene is set at one specified location, indicated in the script at the start of the scene (e.g., ". Before the cell of ."). Changing locations usually requires changing the
scenery Modern-day rotating set for the play '' Noises Off''. Theatrical scenery is that which is used as a setting for a theatrical production. Scenery may be just about anything, from a single chair to an elaborately re-created street, no matter how l ...

scenery
, which takes time – even if merely a painted backdrop – and can only be done between scenes. Next to the text to be spoken by the actors, a script contains "stage directions" (not to be confused with the use of that term in
blocking Blocking may refer to: Science, technology, and mathematics Computing and telecommunications *Blacklist (computing) *Blocking (computing), holding up a task until an event occurs *Blocking probability, for calls in a telecommunications system *H ...
, the staging of actors with specified movements across the stage). The most common type is for the entering and exiting of actors, e.g. " 'Exeunt'' , and . ('' Exeunt'' is the Latin plural of ''exit'', meaning "leave".) Other stage directions may indicate the manner of delivery of the text, like " or "
ings ''Ings'' is an old word of Norse origin referring to water meadows A water-meadow (also water meadow or watermeadow) is an area of grassland subject to controlled irrigation to increase agricultural productivity. Water-meadows were mainly used ...

ings
, or indicate sounds to be produced off-stage, like "
hunder Hundar is a village in the Leh district Leh district is a district in the States and union territories of India, union territory of Ladakh, a territory administered as part of India. With an area of 45,110 ''km'2'', it is the second largest ...

hunder
.


See also

*
Canovaccio A canovaccio is a scenario In the performing arts, a scenario (, ; from Italian language, Italian: "that which is pinned to the scenery", ) is a synoptical collage of an event or series of actions and events. In the ''commedia dell'arte'' it was an ...
*
Closet drama A closet drama is a play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content service * Play Framework ...
*
Drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a ...

Drama
*
Dramatis personæ Dramatis personae (Latin language, Latin: "the masks of the drama") are the main character (arts), characters in a dramatic work written in a list. Such lists are commonly employed in various forms of theatre, and also on screen. Typically, off- ...
*
Playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital c ...
*
Staged readingA stage reading is a form of theatre without Theatrical scenery, sets or Stage clothes, full costumes. The actors, who read from scripts, may be seated, stand in fixed positions, or incorporate minimal Blocking (stage), stage movement. A stage readi ...
*
Theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The p ...

Theatre
*
History of theatre The history of theatre charts the development of over the past 2,500 years. While performative elements are present in every society, it is customary to acknowledge a distinction between theatre as an and entertainment and ''theatrical'' or '' ...
*
Screenplay A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriter A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer A writer is a person who uses written words in different styles and technique ...
*
Musical theatre Musical theatre is a form of theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience ...


Lists

* List of basic theatre topics * List of American plays * List of Canadian plays * List of Romanian plays * List of films based on stage plays or musicals * List of plays made into feature films


References


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Play (Theatre) Performing arts Plays Fiction forms