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The Fascinating History of Drama

Gaynor Borade
The magic of drama is more than the representation of fiction via performance. The term literally means 'action' in Greek. The thought sprung from the need for entertainment and recreation.
A drama is ideally enacted in a theater, open or closed, and the performances are by actors, live, before an audience that either sits around or before the stage. A single drama is a collaborative effort.
The cumulative efforts are pooled for the various modes of production, flow of the text and research in the form of literature adopted. This form of entertainment has not lost its patronage or vigor and continues to remain popular, despite all the technology involved in a film-making.
The history of drama goes back ages and to various cultures. The earliest tragedies, comedies and romance were real masterpieces. They were represented as genres of poetry and the dramatic mode was interspersed with epic lyrics. The first ever work on theory in drama and dramatics was Aristotle's Poetics, published in 335 BCE.
There are different aspects of the art that make it popular with distinct audiences. Classical music and dance are integral parts of drama, while the opera involves only singing. There are musicals that have dialog and songs within regular intervals. Melodramas offer the audience regular accompaniment by musical instruments.

Athenian Drama

Athenian drama or Western drama was originated in Greece. The city-state of Athens is credited with the production of tragedy, comedy, and satyr. Drama in Athens was institutionalized through competitions. The Greeks came up with the idea of an actor who speaks and impersonates.
The main lead was expected to deliver dialog while interacting with the chorus. This form of drama involved non-dramatic poetry and complete texts. The Persians, by Aeschylus, is a historical tragedy that is also the oldest surviving drama.

Roman Drama

Early Roman theater was not only more varied than Greek drama, but also more extensive. Initially, they were sophisticated works of Roman literature, tragedies, and comedies. In the 2nd century BCE, drama was an important part of Roman culture.
There was a writers' guild who delivered dialog and text for even plays that were set on street corners and crossings. They contributed to a variety of poetic forms and complex plots. The bifurcation of the production work thus led to the enaction of double-plots, involving the complexity of human behavior.

Medieval Drama

Medieval drama basically involved religious enactment. These plays were enacted within the premises of the cathedrals. They were usually miracle and mystery plays. They focused on propagating morality with the help of specially interspersed interludes.
Many of the plays were then written in verse. Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe were prominent playwrights of this era. The plays highlighted past kings and Tudor monarchy.

Modern Drama

Modern drama is the result of innovative contributions, like the roles of imitators. Modernist drama is realist and has scope for experimentation and social critique.Important playwrights of Modern drama include Anton Chekhov, Maurice Maeterlinck, George Bernard Shaw, and Arthur Miller, among others.

Other Shades of Dramatics

While Indian drama initially involved dramatic episodes, it evolved to include human concerns. The earliest form of theory on drama is the Natya Shastra by Bharata. Chinese theater has stuck by the popular opera from Beijing. Japanese drama developed in the 15th century. The musical instruments and techniques were handed down generations by word of mouth.
Drama is one of the types of literature that has gained popularity during the years. Among the various forms of drama, Western opera grew and thrived during the Renaissance in Italy. Music and theater were combined. Pantomimes told of fables. In a pantomime, there is always a lesson to be learned, as the hero emerges victorious.