It derived from the Greek verb dran, meaning “to act” or “to do”, refers to actions or deeds as they are performed in theatrical setting for the benefit of a body spectators. More limited than the related concept of theater, which also comprehends such forms as opera and dance, the term drama refers essentially to dramatic literature—the text composed by playwrights to be spoken in a theater. Because the heritages of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and African drama have had little influence on one another and even less on the theaters of the English-speaking world. On the stage it combines many arts those of the author, director, actor, designer, and others. Dramatic performance involves an intricate process of rehearsal based upon imagery inherent in the dramatic text. A playwright first invents a drama out of mental imagery. The dramatic text presents the drama as a range of verbal imagery. The language of drama can range between great extremes: on the one hand, an intensely theatrical and ritualistic manner; and on the other, an almost exact reproduction of real life. A dramatic monologue is a type of lyrical poem or narrative piece that has a person speaking to a select listener and revealing his character in a dramatic situation.
The origins of Western drama can be traced to the celebratory music of the 6th century BC Attica, the Greek region centered on Athens. Although accounts of this period are sketchy, it appears that the poet Thespis developed a new musical form in which he impersonated a single character and engaged a chorus of singer-dancers in dialogue. As the first composer and soloist in this new form, which came to be known as Tragedy, Thespis can be considered both the first dramatist and the first actor. He soon had imitators, and in 534 BC a contest in tragedy was instituted at an Athenian festival held in honor of Dionysius, the God of wine, fertility, and revelry. This soon became an annual event in Athens and eventually at festivals throughout the Hellenic world. Of the hundreds of works produced by Greek tragic playwrights, only 32 plays by the three major innovators in this new art form survive. Aeschylus created the possibility of developing conflict between characters by introducing a second actor into the format. His seven surviving plays, three of which constitute the only extant trilogy, the Oresteia are richly ambiguous inquiries into the paradoxical relationship between humans and the cosmos, in which people are made answerable for their acts, yet recognize that these acts are determined by the gods. Medieval Drama
Medieval drama, when it emerged hundreds of years later, was a new creation rather than a rebirth, the drama of earlier times having had almost no influence on it. The reason for this creation came from a quarter that had traditionally opposed any form of theater: the Christian church. In the Easter service, and later in the Christmas service, bits of chanted dialogue, called tropes, were interpolated into the liturgy. Priests, impersonating biblical figures, acted out minuscule scenes from the holiday stories. Eventually, these playlets grew more elaborate and abandoned the inside of the church for the church steps and the adjacent marketplace. Secular elements crept in as the artisan guilds took responsibility for these performances; although the glorification of God and the redemption of humanity remained prime concerns, the celebration of local industry was not neglected. Restoration and 18th-Century Drama
The theaters established in the wake of Charles II's return from exile in France and the Restoration of the monarchy in England (1660) were intended primarily to serve the needs of a socially, politically, and aesthetically homogeneous class. At first they relied on the pre-Civil War repertoire; before long, however, they felt called upon to bring these plays into line with their more "refined," French-influenced sensibilities. The themes,...
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