Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance; a
play performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered
as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted
with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics (c.
335 BC)—the earliest work of dramatic theory.
The term "drama" comes from a Greek word meaning "action" (Classical
Greek: δρᾶμα, drama), which is derived from "I do" (Classical
Greek: δράω, drao). The two masks associated with drama represent
the traditional generic division between comedy and tragedy. They are
symbols of the ancient Greek Muses, Thalia, and Melpomene. Thalia was
the Muse of comedy (the laughing face), while
Melpomene was the Muse
of tragedy (the weeping face).
In English (as was the analogous case in many other European
languages), the word "play" or "game" (translating the Anglo-Saxon
Latin ludus) was the standard term used to describe drama
until William Shakespeare's time—just as its creator was a
"play-maker" rather than a "dramatist" and the building was a
"play-house" rather than a "theatre". The use of "drama" in a more
narrow sense to designate a specific type of play dates from the
modern era. "Drama" in this sense refers to a play that is neither a
comedy nor a tragedy—for example, Zola's
Thérèse Raquin (1873) or
Chekhov's Ivanov (1887). It is this narrower sense that the film and
television industries, along with film studies, adopted to describe
"drama" as a genre within their respective media. "
Radio drama" has
been used in both senses—originally transmitted in a live
performance, it has also been used to describe the more high-brow and
serious end of the dramatic output of radio.
The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage
before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and
a collective form of reception. The structure of dramatic texts,
unlike other forms of literature, is directly influenced by this
collaborative production and collective reception. The early modern
Hamlet (1601) by Shakespeare and the classical Athenian
Oedipus Rex (c. 429 BC) by
Sophocles are among the
masterpieces of the art of drama. A modern example is Long Day's
Journey into Night by
Eugene O’Neill (1956).
Drama is often combined with music and dance: the drama in opera is
generally sung throughout; musicals generally include both spoken
dialogue and songs; and some forms of drama have incidental music or
musical accompaniment underscoring the dialogue (melodrama and
Japanese Nō, for example).
Closet drama describes a form that is
intended to be read, rather than performed. In improvisation, the
drama does not pre-exist the moment of performance; performers devise
a dramatic script spontaneously before an audience.
1 History of Western drama
Classical Greek drama
1.2 Classical Roman drama
1.4 Elizabethan and Jacobean
1.5 English Restoration comedy
1.6 Modern and postmodern
2 Asian drama
2.1.1 Sanskrit theatre
2.1.2 Modern Indian drama
Urdu drama of
India and Pakistan
3 Forms of drama
3.4 Creative drama
4 See also
7 External links
History of Western drama
Classical Greek drama
Theatre of ancient Greece
Relief of a seated poet (Menander) with masks of New Comedy, 1st
century BC – early 1st century AD, Princeton University Art Museum
Western drama originates in classical Greece. The theatrical
culture of the city-state of Athens produced three genres of drama:
tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. Their origins remain obscure,
though by the 5th century BC they were institutionalised in
competitions held as part of festivities celebrating the god
Dionysus. Historians know the names of many ancient Greek
dramatists, not least Thespis, who is credited with the innovation of
an actor ("hypokrites") who speaks (rather than sings) and
impersonates a character (rather than speaking in his own person),
while interacting with the chorus and its leader ("coryphaeus"), who
were a traditional part of the performance of non-dramatic poetry
(dithyrambic, lyric and epic).
Only a small fraction of the work of five dramatists, however, has
survived to this day: we have a small number of complete texts by the
Sophocles and Euripides, and the comic writers
Aristophanes and, from the late 4th century, Menander. Aeschylus'
The Persians is the oldest surviving drama,
although when it won first prize at the City
Dionysia competition in
472 BC, he had been writing plays for more than 25 years. The
competition ("agon") for tragedies may have begun as early as 534 BC;
official records ("didaskaliai") begin from 501 BC when the satyr play
was introduced. Tragic dramatists were required to present a
tetralogy of plays (though the individual works were not necessarily
connected by story or theme), which usually consisted of three
tragedies and one satyr play (though exceptions were made, as with
Euripides' Alcestis in 438 BC).
Comedy was officially recognized with
a prize in the competition from 487 to 486 BC.
Five comic dramatists competed at the City
Dionysia (though during the
Peloponnesian War this may have been reduced to three), each offering
a single comedy.
Ancient Greek comedy is traditionally divided
between "old comedy" (5th century BC), "middle comedy" (4th century
BC) and "new comedy" (late 4th century to 2nd BC).
Classical Roman drama
Theatre of ancient Rome
An ivory statuette of a Roman actor of tragedy, 1st century CE.
Following the expansion of the
Roman Republic (509–27 BC) into
several Greek territories between 270–240 BC, Rome encountered Greek
drama. From the later years of the republic and by means of the
Roman Empire (27 BC-476 AD), theatre spread west across Europe, around
the Mediterranean and reached England; Roman theatre was more varied,
extensive and sophisticated than that of any culture before it.
While Greek drama continued to be performed throughout the Roman
period, the year 240 BC marks the beginning of regular Roman
drama. From the beginning of the empire, however, interest in
full-length drama declined in favour of a broader variety of
theatrical entertainments. The first important works of Roman
literature were the tragedies and comedies that Livius Andronicus
wrote from 240 BC. Five years later,
Gnaeus Naevius also began to
write drama. No plays from either writer have survived. While both
dramatists composed in both genres, Andronicus was most appreciated
for his tragedies and Naevius for his comedies; their successors
tended to specialise in one or the other, which led to a separation of
the subsequent development of each type of drama.
By the beginning of the 2nd century BC, drama was firmly established
in Rome and a guild of writers (collegium poetarum) had been
formed. The Roman comedies that have survived are all fabula
palliata (comedies based on Greek subjects) and come from two
dramatists: Titus Maccius
Plautus (Plautus) and Publius Terentius Afer
(Terence). In re-working the Greek originals, the Roman comic
dramatists abolished the role of the chorus in dividing the drama into
episodes and introduced musical accompaniment to its dialogue (between
one-third of the dialogue in the comedies of
Plautus and two-thirds in
those of Terence). The action of all scenes is set in the exterior
location of a street and its complications often follow from
Plautus, the more popular of the two, wrote between 205 and 184 BC and
twenty of his comedies survive, of which his farces are best known; he
was admired for the wit of his dialogue and his use of a variety of
poetic meters. All of the six comedies that
Terence wrote between
166 and 160 BC have survived; the complexity of his plots, in which he
often combined several Greek originals, was sometimes denounced, but
his double-plots enabled a sophisticated presentation of contrasting
human behaviour. No early Roman tragedy survives, though it was
highly regarded in its day; historians know of three early
tragedians—Quintus Ennius, Marcus Pacuvius, and Lucius Accius.
From the time of the empire, the work of two tragedians survives—one
is an unknown author, while the other is the Stoic philosopher
Seneca. Nine of Seneca's tragedies survive, all of which are
fabula crepidata (tragedies adapted from Greek originals); his
Phaedra, for example, was based on Euripides' Hippolytus.
Historians do not know who wrote the only extant example of the fabula
praetexta (tragedies based on Roman subjects), Octavia, but in former
times it was mistakenly attributed to Seneca due to his appearance as
a character in the tragedy.
Stage drawing from a 15th-century vernacular morality play The Castle
of Perseverance (as found in the Macro Manuscript).
Beginning in the early Middle Ages, churches staged dramatised
versions of biblical events, known as liturgical dramas, to enliven
annual celebrations. The earliest example is the
Easter trope Whom
do you Seek? (Quem-Quaeritis) (c. 925). Two groups would sing
responsively in Latin, though no impersonation of characters was
involved. By the 11th century, it had spread through Europe to Russia,
Scandinavia, and Italy; excluding Islamic-era Spain.
In the 10th century,
Hrosvitha wrote six plays in
Latin modeled on
Terence's comedies, but which treated religious subjects. Her
plays are the first known to be composed by a female dramatist and the
first identifiable Western drama of the post-Classical era. Later,
Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen wrote a musical drama, Ordo Virtutum (c.
One of the most famous of the early secular plays is the courtly
pastoral Robin and Marion, written in the 13th century in French by
Adam de la Halle.
The Interlude of the Student and the Girl (c.
1300), one of the earliest known in English, seems to be the closest
in tone and form to the contemporaneous French farces, such as The Boy
and the Blind Man.
A large number of plays survive from
Germany in the late
Middle Ages, when some type of religious drama was performed in nearly
every European country. Many of these plays contained comedy, devils,
villains, and clowns. In England, trade guilds began to perform
vernacular "mystery plays," which were composed of long cycles of a
large number of playlets or "pageants," of which four are extant: York
(48 plays), Chester (24), Wakefield (32) and the so-called "N-Town"
The Second Shepherds' Play
The Second Shepherds' Play from the Wakefield cycle is a
farcical story of a stolen sheep that its protagonist, Mak, tries to
pass off as his new-born child asleep in a crib; it ends when the
shepherds from whom he has stolen are summoned to the Nativity of
Morality plays (a modern term) emerged as a distinct dramatic form
around 1400 and flourished in the early
Elizabethan era in England.
Characters were often used to represent different ethical ideals.
Everyman, for example, includes such figures as Good Deeds, Knowledge
and Strength, and this characterisation reinforces the conflict
between good and evil for the audience.
The Castle of Perseverance
The Castle of Perseverance (c.
1400—1425) depicts an archetypal figure's progress from birth
through to death.
Horestes (c. 1567), a late "hybrid morality" and one
of the earliest examples of an English revenge play, brings together
the classical story of
Orestes with a Vice from the medieval
allegorical tradition, alternating comic, slapstick scenes with
serious, tragic ones. Also important in this period were the folk
dramas of the Mummers Play, performed during the
Court masques were particularly popular during the reign of Henry
Elizabethan and Jacobean
Main article: English
One of the great flowerings of drama in
England occurred in the 16th
and 17th centuries. Many of these plays were written in verse,
particularly iambic pentameter. In addition to Shakespeare, such
authors as Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, and
Ben Jonson were
prominent playwrights during this period. As in the medieval period,
historical plays celebrated the lives of past kings, enhancing the
image of the Tudor monarchy. Authors of this period drew some of their
Greek mythology and
Roman mythology or from the plays
of eminent Roman playwrights such as
Plautus and Terence.
English Restoration comedy
Main article: Restoration comedy
Colley Cibber as the extravagant and affected Lord Foppington,
"brutal, evil, and smart", in Vanbrugh's
The Relapse (1696).
Restoration comedy refers to English comedies written and performed in
England during the Restoration period from 1660 to 1710.
manners is used as a synonym of Restoration comedy. After public
theatre had been banned by the
Puritan regime, the re-opening of the
theatres in 1660 with the Restoration of Charles II signalled a
renaissance of English drama.
Restoration comedy is known for its
sexual explicitness, urbane, cosmopolitan wit, up-to-the-minute
topical writing, and crowded and bustling plots. Its dramatists stole
freely from the contemporary French and Spanish stage, from English
Jacobean and Caroline plays, and even from Greek and Roman classical
comedies, combining the various plotlines in adventurous ways.
Resulting differences of tone in a single play were appreciated rather
than frowned on, as the audience prized "variety" within as well as
Restoration comedy peaked twice. The genre came to
spectacular maturity in the mid-1670s with an extravaganza of
aristocratic comedies. Twenty lean years followed this short golden
age, although the achievement of the first professional female
playwright, Aphra Behn, in the 1680s is an important exception. In the
mid-1690s, a brief second
Restoration comedy renaissance arose, aimed
at a wider audience. The comedies of the golden 1670s and 1690s peak
times are significantly different from each other.
The unsentimental or "hard" comedies of John Dryden, William
George Etherege reflected the atmosphere at Court and
celebrated with frankness an aristocratic macho lifestyle of
unremitting sexual intrigue and conquest. The Earl of Rochester,
real-life Restoration rake, courtier and poet, is flatteringly
portrayed in Etherege's
The Man of Mode
The Man of Mode (1676) as a riotous, witty,
intellectual, and sexually irresistible aristocrat, a template for
posterity's idea of the glamorous Restoration rake (actually never a
very common character in Restoration comedy). The single play that
does most to support the charge of obscenity levelled then and now at
Restoration comedy is probably Wycherley's masterpiece The Country
Wife (1675), whose title contains a lewd pun and whose notorious
"china scene" is a series of sustained double entendres.
During the second wave of
Restoration comedy in the 1690s, the
"softer" comedies of William Congreve and
John Vanbrugh set out to
appeal to more socially diverse audience with a strong middle-class
element, as well as to female spectators. The comic focus shifts from
young lovers outwitting the older generation to the vicissitudes of
marital relations. In Congreve's
Love for Love
Love for Love (1695) and The Way of
the World (1700), the give-and-take set pieces of couples testing
their attraction for one another have mutated into witty prenuptial
debates on the eve of marriage, as in the latter's famous "Proviso"
The Provoked Wife
The Provoked Wife (1697) has a light touch and more
humanly recognisable characters, while
The Relapse (1696) has been
admired for its throwaway wit and the characterisation of Lord
Foppington, an extravagant and affected burlesque fop with a dark
side. The tolerance for
Restoration comedy even in its modified
form was running out by the end of the 17th century, as public opinion
turned to respectability and seriousness even faster than the
playwrights did. At the much-anticipated all-star première in
1700 of The Way of the World, Congreve's first comedy for five years,
the audience showed only moderate enthusiasm for that subtle and
almost melancholy work. The comedy of sex and wit was about to be
replaced by sentimental comedy and the drama of exemplary morality.
Modern and postmodern
The pivotal and innovative contributions of the 19th-century Norwegian
Henrik Ibsen and the 20th-century German theatre
Bertolt Brecht dominate modern drama; each inspired a
tradition of imitators, which include many of the greatest playwrights
of the modern era. The works of both playwrights are, in their
different ways, both modernist and realist, incorporating formal
experimentation, meta-theatricality, and social critique. In terms
of the traditional theoretical discourse of genre, Ibsen's work has
been described as the culmination of "liberal tragedy", while Brecht's
has been aligned with an historicised comedy.
Other important playwrights of the modern era include Antonin Artaud,
August Strindberg, Anton Chekhov, Frank Wedekind, Maurice Maeterlinck,
Federico García Lorca, Eugene O'Neill, Luigi Pirandello, George
Bernard Shaw, Ernst Toller, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Arthur Miller,
Tennessee Williams, Jean Genet, Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett,
Harold Pinter, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Dario Fo, Heiner Müller, and
Theatre in India
Sugriva in the
Koodiyattam form of Sanskrit theatre.
The earliest form of Indian drama was the Sanskrit drama. Between
the 1st century AD and the 10th was a period of relative peace in the
India during which hundreds of modern plays were
written. With the Islamic conquests that began in the 10th and
11th centuries, theatre was discouraged or forbidden entirely.
Later, in an attempt to re-assert indigenous values and ideas, village
theatre was encouraged across the subcontinent, developing in a large
number of regional languages from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
Indian theatre developed during the period of colonial rule
under the British Empire, from the mid-19th century until the
Main article: Sanskrit drama
The earliest-surviving fragments of
Sanskrit drama date from the 1st
century AD. The wealth of archeological evidence from earlier
periods offers no indication of the existence of a tradition of
theatre. The ancient
Vedas (hymns from between 1500 and 1000 BC
that are among the earliest examples of literature in the world)
contain no hint of it (although a small number are composed in a form
of dialogue) and the rituals of the
Vedic period do not appear to have
developed into theatre. The
the earliest reference to what may have been the seeds of Sanskrit
drama. This treatise on grammar from 140 BC provides a feasible
date for the beginnings of theatre in India.
The major source of evidence for Sanskrit theatre is A Treatise on
Theatre (Nātyaśāstra), a compendium whose date of composition is
uncertain (estimates range from 200 BC to 200 AD) and whose authorship
is attributed to Bharata Muni. The Treatise is the most complete work
of dramaturgy in the ancient world. It addresses acting, dance, music,
dramatic construction, architecture, costuming, make-up, props, the
organisation of companies, the audience, competitions, and offers a
mythological account of the origin of theatre.
Its drama is regarded as the highest achievement of Sanskrit
literature. It utilised stock characters, such as the hero
(nayaka), heroine (nayika), or clown (vidusaka). Actors may have
specialised in a particular type. It was patronized by the kings as
well as village assemblies. Famous early playwrights include Bhasa,
Kalidasa (famous for Vikrama and Urvashi, Malavika and Agnimitra, and
The Recognition of Shakuntala),
Śudraka (famous for The Little Clay
Cart), Asvaghosa, Daṇḍin, and Emperor
Harsha (famous for
Nagananda, Ratnavali, and Priyadarsika). Śakuntalā (in English
Goethe's Faust (1808–1832).
Modern Indian drama
Rabindranath Tagore was a pioneering modern playwright who wrote plays
noted for their exploration and questioning of nationalism, identity,
spiritualism and material greed. His plays are written in Bengali
and include Chitra (Chitrangada, 1892), The King of the Dark Chamber
(Raja, 1910), The Post Office (Dakghar, 1913), and Red Oleander
(Raktakarabi, 1924). Girish Karnad is a noted playwright, who has
written a number of plays that use history and mythology, to critique
and problematize ideas and ideals that are of contemporary relevance.
Karnad's numerous plays such as Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Taledanda, and
Naga-Mandala are significant contributions to Indian drama. Vijay
Mahesh Dattani are amongst the major Indian playwrights
of the 20th century. Mohan Rakesh in
Hindi and Danish Iqbal in Urdu
are considered architects of new age Drama. Mohan Rakesh's Aadhe
Adhoore and Danish Iqbal's 'Dara Shikoh' are considered modern
Urdu drama of
India and Pakistan
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Drama evolved from the prevailing dramatic traditions of North
India shaping Rahas or Raas as practiced by exponents like Nawab Wajid
Ali Shah of Awadh. His dramatic experiments led to the famous Inder
Sabha of Amanat and later this tradition took the shape of Parsi
Theatre. Agha Hashr Kashmiri is the culmination of this tradition.
In some way or other,
Urdu theatre tradition has greatly influenced
modern Indian theatre. Among all the languages
Urdu (which was called
Hindi by early writers), along with Gujrati, Marathi, and Bengali
theatres have kept flourishing and demand for its writers and artists
has not subsided by the drama aficionados. For
Urdu drama, no place is
better than Bombay
Film industry otherwise known as
industry. All the early gems of
Theatre (performed by Parsi
Companies) were made into films.
Urdu Dramatic tradition has been a
spectator’s delight since 100 years and counting.
Drama as a theme is made up of several elements. It focuses on life
and different aspects of it. The thing to be noticed here is that
drama on stage imitates drama in life. It has been said that there has
always been a mutual relationship between theatre and real life. Great
historical personalities like Shakespeare have influenced Modern Urdu
tradition to a large extent when Indian, Iranian, Turkish stories and
folk was adapted for stage with heavy doses of
Urdu poetry. In modern
times writers like Imtiaz Ali Taj, Rafi Peer, Krishan Chander, Manto,
Upender Nath Ashk, Ghulam Rabbani, Prof. Mujeeb and many others shaped
While Prof Hasan, Ghulam Jeelani, J.N,Kaushal, Shameem Hanfi, Jameel
Shaidayi, etc. belong to the old generation, contemporary writers like
Danish Iqbal, Sayeed Alam, Shahid Anwar, Iqbal Niyazi, and Anwar are a
few postmodern playwrights actively contributing in the field of Urdu
Sayeed Alam is known for his wit and humour and more particularly for
Plays like 'Ghalib in New Delhi', 'Big B' and many other gems which
are regularly staged for massive turn out of theatre lovers. Maulana
Azad is his magnum opus both for its content and style.
Danish Iqbal's play about 'Dara Shikoh' directed by
M. S. Sathyu
M. S. Sathyu is
considered a modern classic for the use of newer theatre techniques
and contemporary perspective. His other plays are 'Sahir' on the
famous lyricist and revolutionary poet. 'Kuchh Ishq kiya Kuchh Kaam'
is another play written by Danish which is basically a Celebration of
the Faiz's poetry, featuring events from the early part of his life,
particularly the events and incidents of pre-partition days which
shaped his life and ideals. 'Chand Roz Aur Meri Jaan' – another play
inspired from Faiz's letters written from various jails during the
Rawalpindi Conspiracy days. He has written 14 other plays including
'Dilli Jo Ek Shehr Thaa' and 'Main Gaya Waqt Nahin hoon'. Shahid's
'Three B' is also a significant play. He has been associated with many
groups like 'Natwa' and others. Zaheer Anwar has kept the flag of Urdu
theatre flying in Kolkata. Unlike the writers of previous generation
Sayeed, Shahid, Danish Iqbal and Zaheer do not write bookish plays but
their work is a product of vigorous performing tradition. Iqbal Niyazi
Mumbai has written several plays in Urdu, his play "AUR KITNE
JALYANWALA BAUGH?" won a National award other awards. Hence this is
the only generation after Amanat and Agha Hashr who actually write for
stage and not for libraries.
Theatre of China
U.S.S.R. postage stamp commemorating Guan Hanqing, one of the
great Chinese dramatists, who is renowned for his "zaju" plays.
Chinese theatre has a long and complex history. Today it is often
Chinese opera although this normally refers specifically to the
popular form known as
Beijing opera and Kunqu; there have been many
other forms of theatre in China, such as zaju.
Theatre of Japan
Japanese Nō drama is a serious dramatic form that combines drama,
music, and dance into a complete aesthetic performance experience. It
developed in the 14th and 15th centuries and has its own musical
instruments and performance techniques, which were often handed down
from father to son. The performers were generally male (for both male
and female roles), although female amateurs also perform Nō dramas.
Nō drama was supported by the government, and particularly the
military, with many military commanders having their own troupes and
sometimes performing themselves. It is still performed in Japan
Kyōgen is the comic counterpart to Nō drama. It concentrates more on
dialogue and less on music, although Nō instrumentalists sometimes
appear also in Kyōgen.
Kabuki drama, developed from the 17th century,
is another comic form, which includes dance.
Forms of drama
History and lists
Glossary of terms
Theory (critical theory)
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Western opera is a dramatic art form that arose during the Renaissance
in an attempt to revive the classical Greek drama in which dialogue,
dance, and song were combined. Being strongly intertwined with western
classical music, the opera has undergone enormous changes in the past
four centuries and it is an important form of theatre until this day.
Noteworthy is the major influence of the German 19th-century composer
Wagner on the opera tradition. In his view, there was no
proper balance between music and theatre in the operas of his time,
because the music seemed to be more important than the dramatic
aspects in these works. To restore the connection with the classical
drama, he entirely renewed the operatic form to emphasize the equal
importance of music and drama in works that he called "music dramas".
Chinese opera has seen a more conservative development over a somewhat
longer period of time.
Main article: Pantomime
Pantomime (informally panto), is a type of musical comedy stage
production, designed for family entertainment. It was developed in
England and is still performed throughout the United Kingdom,
generally during the
Christmas and New Year season and, to a lesser
extent, in other English-speaking countries. Modern pantomime includes
songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing
actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a
well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a
participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to
sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to
These stories follow in the tradition of fables and folk tales.
Usually, there is a lesson learned, and with some help from the
audience, the hero/heroine saves the day. This kind of play uses stock
characters seen in masque and again commedia dell'arte, these
characters include the villain (doctore), the clown/servant
(Arlechino/Harlequin/buttons), the lovers etc. These plays usually
have an emphasis on moral dilemmas, and good always triumphs over
evil, this kind of play is also very entertaining making it a very
effective way of reaching many people.
Pantomime has a long theatrical history in
Western culture dating back
to classical theatre. It developed partly from the 16th century
commedia dell'arte tradition of Italy, as well as other European and
British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques and music
hall. An important part of the pantomime, until the late 19th
century, was the harlequinade. Outside Britain the word
"pantomime" is usually used to mean miming, rather than the theatrical
form discussed here.
Mime is a theatrical medium where the action of a story is told
through the movement of the body, without the use of speech.
Performance of mime occurred in Ancient Greece, and the word is taken
from a single masked dancer called Pantomimus, although their
performances were not necessarily silent. In
early forms of mime, such as mummer plays and later dumbshows,
evolved. In the early nineteenth century Paris, Jean-Gaspard Deburau
solidified the many attributes that we have come to know in modern
times, including the silent figure in whiteface.
Jacques Copeau, strongly influenced by
Commedia dell'arte and Japanese
Noh theatre, used masks in the training of his actors. Étienne
Decroux, a pupil of his, was highly influenced by this and started
exploring and developing the possibilities of mime and refined
corporeal mime into a highly sculptural form, taking it outside of the
realms of naturalism.
Jacques Lecoq contributed significantly to the
development of mime and physical theatre with his training
Creative drama includes dramatic activities and games used primarily
in educational settings with children. Its roots in the United States
began in the early 1900s.
Winifred Ward is considered to be the
founder of creative drama in education, establishing the first
academic use of drama in Evanston, Illinois.
History of theatre
One act play
Verse drama and dramatic verse
^ Elam (1980, 98).
Francis Fergusson writes that "a drama, as distinguished from a
lyric, is not primarily a composition in the verbal medium; the words
result, as one might put it, from the underlying structure of incident
and character. As
Aristotle remarks, 'the poet, or "maker" should be
the maker of plots rather than of verses; since he is a poet because
he imiates, and what he imitates are actions'" (1949, 8).
^ Wickham (1959, 32—41; 1969, 133; 1981, 68—69). The sense of the
creator of plays as a "maker" rather than a "writer" is preserved in
the word "playwright." The Theatre, one of the first purpose-built
playhouses in London, was "a self-conscious latinism to describe one
particular playhouse" rather than a term for the buildings in general
(1967, 133). The word 'dramatist' "was at that time still unknown in
the English language" (1981, 68).
^ Banham (1998, 894–900).
^ Pfister (1977, 11).
^ Fergusson (1949, 2–3).
^ Burt (2008).
^ See the entries for "opera", "musical theatre, American",
"melodrama" and "Nō" in Banham (1998).
Manfred by Byron, for example, is a good example of a "dramatic
poem." See the entry on "Byron (George George)" in Banham (1998).
^ Some forms of improvisation, notably the Commedia dell'arte,
improvise on the basis of 'lazzi' or rough outlines of scenic action
(see Gordon (1983) and Duchartre (1929)). All forms of improvisation
take their cue from their immediate response to one another, their
characters' situations (which are sometimes established in advance),
and, often, their interaction with the audience. The classic
formulations of improvisation in the theatre originated with Joan
Keith Johnstone in the UK and
Viola Spolin in the USA;
see Johnstone (1981) and Spolin (1963).
^ Brown (1998, 441), Cartledge (1997, 3–5), Goldhill (1997, 54), and
Ley (2007, 206). Taxidou notes that "most scholars now call 'Greek'
tragedy 'Athenian' tragedy, which is historically correct" (2004,
104). Brown writes that ancient Greek drama "was essentially the
creation of classical Athens: all the dramatists who were later
regarded as classics were active at Athens in the 5th and 4th
centuries BC (the time of the Athenian democracy), and all the
surviving plays date from this period" (1998, 441). "The dominant
culture of Athens in the fifth century", Goldhill writes, "can be said
to have invented theatre" (1997, 54).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 13–15) and Banham (1998, 441–447).
^ Banham (1998, 441–444). For more information on these ancient
Greek dramatists, see the articles categorised under "Ancient Greek
dramatists and playwrights" in.
^ The theory that
Prometheus Bound was not written by
bring this number to six dramatists whose work survives.
^ Banham (1998, 8) and Brockett and Hildy (2003, 15–16).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 13, 15) and Banham (1998, 442).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 18) and Banham (1998, 444–445).
^ Banham (1998, 444–445).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 43).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 36, 47).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 43). For more information on the ancient
Roman dramatists, see the articles categorised under "Ancient Roman
dramatists and playwrights" in.
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 46–47).
^ a b c Brockett and Hildy (2003, 47).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 47–48).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 48–49).
^ a b c Brockett and Hildy (2003, 49).
^ a b Brockett and Hildy (2003, 48).
^ a b Brockett and Hildy (2003, 50).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 49–50).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 76, 78). Many churches would have only
performed one or two liturgical dramas per year and a larger number
never performed any at all.
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 76).
^ a b c Brockett and Hildy (2003, 77).
^ Wickham (1981, 191; 1987, 141).
^ Bevington (1962, 9, 11, 38, 45), Dillon (2006, 213), and Wickham
(1976, 195; 1981, 189–190). In Early English Stages (1981), Wickham
points to the existence of The Interlude of the Student and the Girl
as evidence that the old-fashioned view that comedy began in England
in the 1550s with
Gammer Gurton's Needle
Gammer Gurton's Needle and
Ralph Roister Doister is
mistaken, ignoring as it does a rich tradition of medieval comic
drama; see Wickham (1981, 178).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 86)
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 97).
^ Spivack (1958, 251-303), Bevington (1962, 58-61, 81-82, 87, 183),
and Weimann (1978, 155).
^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 101-103).
^ George Henry Nettleton, Arthur British dramatists from Dryden to
^ Hatch, Mary Jo (2009). The Three Faces of Leadership: Manager,
Artist, Priest. John Wiley & Sons. p. 47.
^ The "China scene" from Wycherley's play on YouTube
The Provoked Wife
The Provoked Wife is something of a Restoration problem play in its
attention to the subordinate legal position of married women and the
complexities of "divorce" and separation, issues that had been
highlighted in the mid-1690s by some notorious cases before the House
^ Interconnected causes for this shift in taste were demographic
Glorious Revolution of 1688, William's and Mary's dislike
of the theatre, and the lawsuits brought against playwrights by the
Society for the Reformation of Manners
Society for the Reformation of Manners (founded in 1692). When Jeremy
Collier attacked Congreve and Vanbrugh in his Short View of the
Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage in 1698, he was
confirming a shift in audience taste that had already taken place.
^ Williams (1993, 25–26) and Moi (2006, 17). Moi writes that "Ibsen
is the most important playwright writing after Shakespeare. He is the
founder of modern theater. His plays are world classics, staged on
every continent, and studied in classrooms everywhere. In any given
year, there are hundreds of Ibsen productions in the world." Ibsenites
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw and Arthur Miller; Brechtians include
Dario Fo, Joan Littlewood,
W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden Peter Weiss, Heiner Müller,
Peter Hacks, Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill, John Arden, Howard
Brenton, Edward Bond, and David Hare.
^ Moi (2006, 1, 23–26). Taxidou writes: "It is probably historically
more accurate, although methodologically less satisfactory, to read
the Naturalist movement in the theatre in conjunction with the more
anti-illusionist aesthetics of the theatres of the same period. These
interlock and overlap in all sorts of complicated ways, even when they
are vehemently denouncing each other (perhaps particularly when) in
the favoured mode of the time, the manifesto" (2007, 58).
^ Williams (1966) and Wright (1989).
^ Richmond, Swann, and Zarrilli (1993, 12).
^ Brandon (1997, 70) and Richmond (1998, 516).
^ Brandon (1997, 72) and Richmond (1998, 516).
^ Brandon (1997, 72), Richmond (1998, 516), and Richmond, Swann, and
Zarrilli (1993, 12).
^ Richmond (1998, 516) and Richmond, Swann, and Zarrilli (1993, 13).
^ Brandon (1981, xvii) and Richmond (1998, 516–517).
^ a b Richmond (1998, 516).
^ a b c Richmond (1998, 517).
^ a b Brandon (1981, xvii).
^ a b Banham (1998, 1051).
^ "Background to Noh-Kyogen". Archived from the original on
2005-07-15. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
^ Lawner, p. 16
^ a b Reid-Walsh, Jacqueline. "Pantomime", The Oxford Encyclopedia of
Children's Literature, Jack Zipes (ed.), Oxford University Press
(2006), ISBN 9780195146561
^ Mayer (1969), p. 6
^ "The History of Pantomime", It's-Behind-You.com, 2002, accessed 10
^ Webster's New World Dictionary, World Publishing Company, 2nd
College Edition, 1980, p. 1027
^ Gutzwiller (2007).
^ Rémy (1954).
^ Callery (2001).
^ Ehrlich (1974, 75–80).
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