Definition of Drama
Drama is a mode of fictional representation through dialogue and performance. It is one of the literary genres, which is an imitation of some action. Drama is also a type of play written for theater, television, radio, and film.
In simple words, a drama is a composition in verse or prose presenting a story in pantomime or dialogue. It contains conflict of characters, particularly the ones who perform in front of an audience on the stage. The person who writes drama for stage directions is known as a “dramatist” or “playwright.”
Types of Drama
There are several types of dramas some of the most common forms are given below.
- Comedy: Plays or dramas that are meant to create laughter among the readers or the audiences.
- Comedy of Manners: Plays or dramas that are meant to make fun of the manners and ways of a social group to make fun of them for correction.
- Commedia Dell’artea: Italian plays that are meant to create characters to place them in improvised situations. It was also called a comedy of profession. Most of the characters presented in such plays were masters, lovers, and servants.
- Costume Drama: These plays or dramas are meant to present dresses of the time.
- Farce: These plays or dramas present buffoons, horseplay for crude characterization.
- Grand Guignol: These plays or dramas are meant to show brutality, horror, and violence during the 19th century.
- Jacobean Drama: These plays and dramas were written during the period of James I.
- Kabuki: These plays and dramas are of Japanese style comprising dance, stylized performance, and glamorous costumes.
- Kathakali: These short plays with the music of Indian origin are known for colorful costumes and face masks.
- Melodrama: These dramas and plays are known for exaggeration of characters, events, and situations for sensationalism.
- Morality Plays: These dramas and plays were meant to highlight moral qualities during the 15th and 16th centuries of Europe.
- Mastery Play: These dramas were written during the Middle Ages to depict the life of Christ.
- Shadow Play: These dramas and plays used to present shadows instead of characters on the stage.
- Situation Comedy or Sitcom: These plays or dramas present various characters in their daily activities.
- Soap Operate: These plays or dramas present a domestic thematic strand full of sentimentalism.
- Sketch: These short dramas and plays are meant to create comic situations through short sketches.
- Street Theater: These dramas and plays are meant to entertain the public in the streets through readymade scenes and themes.
- Absurd Play: These plays and dramas are meant to present the irrationality of life through changing dramatic structures and conventions.
- Theatre of Cruelty: These dramas and plays are meant to change present sufferings and pains through characters, themes, and structures.
- Tragedy: This is the oldest form of drama that means to present tragic emotions on the stage.
- Tragicomedy: This type of drama presents tragedy and comedy together to make the people feel relieved after watching tragic events.
- Romantic Comedy: A form of comedy, these dramas, and plays are meant to present light-hearted moments of life.
American Drama and the Postmodernism
Although this topic requires more content and space, here American drama means the American plays between the late 1900s and early 2000s (1990-2020), and postmodern means a theoretical perspective. Such types of plays are written with the following features:
- Theatrical experimentation
- Use of pastiches and intertextualities
- Presentation of mini or meta-narratives
- Fragmented themes, characters, and presentations
- Presentation of rejection of art
Dramatic Sentences – Use of Drama in Sentences
- George’s next-door neighbors, The Manfreds, were all asleep in their coffins when I climbed the fence to get my football.
- When Rosy saw her favorite choco-chip cookie at the Elite Bakers, she felt as if the time froze.
- Just after the old man died, he sat up!
- Icy fingers gripped Monica’s arm in the darkness. She let out a shrill cry.
- Ian had never seen a ghost in his entire life.
Examples of Drama in Literature
Example #1: Much Ado About Nothing (By William Shakespeare)
Much Ado About Nothing is the most frequently performed Shakespearian comedy in modern times. The play is romantically funny, in that love between Hero and Claudio is laughable, as they never even get a single chance to communicate on-stage until they get married.
Their relationship lacks development and depth. They end up merely as caricatures, exemplifying what people face in life when their relationships are internally weak. The love between Benedick and Beatrice is amusing, as initially, their communications are very sparky, and they hate each other. However, they all of sudden make up, and start loving each other.
Example #2: Oedipus Rex (By Sophocles)
Sophocles’ mythical and immortal drama Oedipus Rex is thought to be his best classical tragedy. Aristotle has adjudged this play as one of the greatest examples of tragic drama in his book, Poetics, by giving the following reasons:
- The play arouses emotions of pity and fear, and achieves tragic Catharsis.
- It shows the downfall of an extraordinary man of high rank, Oedipus.
- The central character suffers due to his tragic error called Hamartia; as he murders his real father, Laius, and then marries his real mother, Jocasta.
- Hubris is the cause of Oedipus’ downfall.
Example #3: The Importance of Being Earnest (By Oscar Wilde)
Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, is a very popular example of Victorian farce. In this play, a man uses two identities: one as a serious person, Jack (his actual name), which he uses for Cesily, his ward, and as a rogue named Ernest for his beloved woman, Gwendolyn.
Unluckily, Gwendolyn loves him partially because she loves the name Ernest. It is when Jack and Earnest must come on-stage together for Cesily, then Algernon comes in to play Earnest’ role, and his ward immediately falls in love with the other “Ernest.” Thus, two young women think that they love the same man – an occurrence that amuses the audience.
Example #4: The Heiress (By Henry James)
The Heiress is based on Henry James’ novel the Washington Square. Directed for stage performance by William Wyler, this play shows an ungraceful and homely daughter of a domineering and rich doctor. She falls in love with a young man, Morris Townsend, and wishes to elope with him, but he leaves her in the lurch. The author creates melodrama towards the end when Catherine teaches a lesson to Morris and leaves him instead.
Function of Drama
Drama is one of the best literary forms through which dramatists can directly speak to their readers or the audience, and they can receive instant feedback from audiences. A few dramatists use their characters as a vehicle to convey their thoughts and values, such as poets do with personas, and novelists do with narrators. Since drama uses spoken words and dialogues, thus the language of characters plays a vital role, as it may give clues to their feelings, personalities, backgrounds, and change in feelings. In dramas the characters live out a story without any comments of the author, providing the audience a direct presentation of the characters’ life experiences.
Synonyms of Drama
The closest synonyms of drama are play, show, spectacle, dramatization, screenplay, stage, performance, theatrics, etc. It is mostly associated with a stage play, a theatre play, or a television play.