Drama – Meaning, Origin and Elements and Characteristics
Meaning of Drama
Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and imagine yourself transported to another world. A world where characters come to life before your very eyes, their stories unfolding with every word and action. This is the magic of drama – a genre of literature that has the power to transport us, entertain us, and move us in ways that few other art forms can. From the tragic heroes of ancient Greece to the witty social commentary of modern-day comedies, drama has been captivating audiences for centuries. In this blog post, we’ll step into the spotlight and explore the definition, history and many different types of drama, and how they continue to shape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. So, let’s dim the lights and get ready for a dramatic journey like no other.
What is drama?
It is very difficult to define any type of literature. Because literature is a living thing that grows and even decays, every form of literature has undergone significant changes. The dramatic form is no exception. Many critics tried to define drama in the following way.
“A play is a just and lively image of human nature, representing its passions and humours and the changes of fortune to which it is subject for the delight and instruction of mankind”. – John Dryden
“Drama is a composition in verse or prose intended to portray life or character or tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue and typically designed for theatrical performance”.
– Webster’s English Dictionary
“Drama is a composition in verse or prose and verse, adapted to be acted on the stage, in which a story is related by means of dialogue and action and is represented with accompanying gesture, costume and scenery as in real life”.
– Shorter Oxford Dictionary
“Drama is a composition designed for performance in the theatre, in which actors take the roles of the characters, perform the indicated action and utter the written dialogue”.
– A Glossary of Literary Terms by M. H. Abrams
“A composition, in prose or poetry, accommodated to action and intended to exhibit a picture of human life, or to depict a series of the grave of humorous actions of more than ordinary interest, tending towards some striking result. It is commonly designed to be spoken and represented by actors on the stage”. – A drama is a story enacted on stage for a live audience.
– A drama is a story enacted on stage for a live audience.
Beginning of Drama
The word “drama” is derived from the Greek word “δρᾶμα” (drama), which “to act, do, or perform.” You can say that drama started with the many different ways that “to perform” can be used. Everyone agrees that their drama today has roots in the past. Anthropologists have found that primitive societies used role-playing to teach (and in some cases still use) the rules and behaviours needed to live and survive in that society. For example, they used role-playing to teach how and what to hunt, how to make and use weapons, and the rules of war. Oral repetition could be used to teach the laws and social norms, while reenactments of mythical or historical events could be used to pass on what is thought to be important for the tribe’s race memory. Most early societies lived by a seasonal cycle, which was a regular pattern linked to the sun or moon’s movements and may have been related to the movement of prey or the planting and harvesting of crops.
Drama was especially important when coming up with rituals to explain things like the changing seasons, night and day, or the moon growing and shrinking. Without symbolic rituals or sacrifices to make the gods happy, the sun might not rise again and the crops might fail. Life and death have always been important to people, and they have created ceremonies and rituals to help them deal with questions like “Where did I come from?” and “Where will I go when I die?” Most people answered these questions by saying they believed in an outside power, an all-powerful being or beings, to give them hope of an afterlife and keep them from dying out. So, when people made gods, they created a bridge between this world and the next.
Rituals would involve either joy, hope, and renewal, or death, despair, and dread. Omens became important and had to be interpreted by wise men, who might have to put on a mask or pretend to be someone else during ceremonies to make the gods happy. Rules for living together would be worked out over time. For example, incest might be outlawed but witchcraft might be allowed within certain limits. Murder might be okay for some crimes but punished for others. Most societies would have purification rituals for women who were menstruating or had just given birth, and children would have to go through trials to become adults and accepted as full members of the community. All of this would be taught and learned through stories, performances, and reenactments that would be passed down from one generation to the next. All societies seem to have had some kind of ritual tradition, from which spoken drama often, but not always, grew. Later dramatists have used these ritual and community roots to try to show how people worry about life and death in both tragedy and comedy. In early communities, everyone took part in the drama of a ceremonial ritual, perhaps by acting out priestly roles, playing characters in reenactments, or just being celebrants. This was not theatre, though.
Theater needs a separate group of people to watch it, which is what happened when the event turned into a performance by some people for the entertainment of others. But since the 16th century, the two words have been used interchangeably. Both words now mean, in a general sense, that actors act out a story in front of an audience. Folk drama in most communities comes from oral storytelling that is turned into a story told in dialogue, but because oral storytelling is usually not written down, history is sparse and broken. It is thought that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from around 2500 BCE show music and dance that have to do with death and rebirth. However, not much else is known about Egyptian practises. Herodotus wrote about an Egyptian temple ceremony that included a fake battle and said it happened every year, but nothing is known about spoken drama. Music may have been around in China as early as 5400 BCE.
Scribes wrote about music and dance being used in religious ceremonies and rituals as early as 2200 BCE, and emperors were told off for going to see plays. Classical Chinese poetic drama, on the other hand, has only been written down since the 700s BCE.
There isn’t much known about how spoken drama started in India, but it may have come from earlier dramatic dances and mimes that were part of ancient rituals and celebrations of the seasons. It may also have started around the same time that the Greeks started writing plays. Some experts say that Alexander the Great’s invasion of India in 327 BCE brought a lot of Greek culture with him, which may have had an effect on Indian drama. For Greece, and especially Athens, is where plays were first put on in front of an audience, the way we think of them today.
At first, the English drama grew out of religious ceremonies that remembered the birth and death of Jesus Christ. It came from the way the church did things. So that the people in the church could have fun and learn more about the Bible, the bishops started acting out parts of the lives of Christ and other saints. This is where the English drama came from. Morality plays and Miracle plays were types of plays that were popular in the 21st and 13th centuries. They were about the lives of Christ and other saints. The play called “The Morality Play” was created at the end of the 15th century. The morality play was the next step in the development of English drama. These plays were religious and meant to teach something. The characters were no longer from the Bible; instead, they represented good and bad traits. Everyman(1490) is the best play of this kind. “Gorboduc,” by Sackville and Norton, was the first regular English tragedy. It was written in 1561. “Ralph Roister Doister,” which was written by Udall in 1566, was the first regular English comedy. The plays of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe were the best of the Elizabethan era. After the Restoration, drama came back, and now there are many different kinds of drama being made. G. B. Shaw and John Galsworthy were the best playwrights of the 20th century.
Elements of Drama
The plot, characters, dialogue, setting, and theme are all ele of a drama. When we talk about each of these things on its own, we can easily point out the things that make drama what it is. We should keep in mind, though, that analysing one element of a play shouldn’t make us miss how it works with other elements. For example, dialogue and should show what a character is like. A drama, like a novel, has a plot, characters, dialogue, a setting, and an outlook on life. However, the way a dramatist handles these important parts is different from the way a novelist handles them. The plot, characters, dialogue, setting, theme, etc. are all parts of drama.
Plot is how the events in a story are put together. This includes how they are told, how important they are, and how they are related to each other. The events that happen in a play make up the plot. There are six parts to a plot structure: the first event, the second event, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the ending or denouement. When it comes to drama, “plot” means a plan, scheme, or pattern. It can be thought of as a pattern of events or the way things happen. It has to do with how events relate to each other or how they are put together to make a “organic whole.” The events need to be put together into a storyline. It is also a story about what happened, with a focus on what caused what. Aristotle said that the plot is the soul of tragedy because it is the most important part of a story. Aristotle said that the action in a play is complete in and of itself. It starts, goes somewhere, and ends. At some points, the action starts, and then problems arise. This builds up to a peak, called the climax, which is followed by a crisis, or what Aristotle called the peripety. This causes the main character to fail, and the catastrophe depends on what is found out, called the anagnorsis.
In his book Poetics, Aristotle said that the plot (the mythos) was more important than the characters. A plot must have a beginning, middle and end. Aristotle said that a story’s beginning, middle, and end should all happen in a straight line. The beginning sets up the main action in a way that makes us want to see what happens next; the middle builds on what has come before and needs something to come after it; and the end builds on what has come before but doesn’t need anything else; we’re satisfied that the plot is finished. Aristotle said that there are two types of plot: simple plots and complex plots.
There are different types of drama. There are two main types: tragedy and comedy. The third one is called “Tragic-comedy.” Romantic comedies, sentimental comedies, classical comedies, comedies of humour, comedies of manners, and farcical comedies are all different types of comedies.
Since the beginning of time, people have been writing comedies. Aristophanes, Plautus, and Terence were all great comedic writers in ancient times. Their works have been a source of inspiration for people who write comedy today. Some of the modern comedic writers are Meander, Moliere, Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson.
The next important part of a drama is the characters. We can’t picture the drama without the people in it. Characters are people like the men and women we see every day, but there are also characters that aren’t real or are supernatural. Plot and characters are two parts of a play that can’t be separated. When we read plays to find out what happens, we also read them to find out what happens to the characters. We care about dramatic characters for many different, and sometimes even contradictory, reasons. Characters give life to a play. First and last, we focus on the characters: how they look and what that tells us about them, what they say and how they say it, and what they do and how that shows who they are and what they stand for.
Aristotle pointed out that there is a main character in a tragedy. He called this person the protagonist, hero, or heroine. He doesn’t have to be a model of virtue or have great qualities. Since tragedy makes people feel sad and scared, the tragic hero is made to seem like he made a mistake that led to his bad luck. This is called “Hamartia,” a tragic fault. Often, a protagonist has an opponent who is just as strong. This person is called the antagonist (villain). In a play, the protagonist is the main character. Usually introduced to the audience early on, this is the character the author thinks will get our attention and make us care more. The antagonist is the person or thing the protagonist fights against. The bad guy could be another character, a culture and its rules or traditions, a natural force, or even the protagonist himself if he turns against himself.
In drama, characters can be either major or minor, static or moving, flat or round. A major character is someone who is very important to the plot and meaning of the play. One or more secondary or minor characters help the main character. One of their jobs is to shed light on the main character. A lot of the time, minor characters don’t change much; they stay pretty much the same throughout the play. On the other hand, dynamic characters show some kind of change in their attitude, goal, or behaviour. Flat characters only show one side of who they are, and their actions and words are predictable. Round characters, on the other hand, are more unique and show more than one side of who they are. Their actions and words are also not predictable.
In its broadest sense, dialogue is just conversation between characters in a piece of writing. In its narrowest sense, it is the speech of characters in a play. A “dialogue” is a type of writing in which characters talk back and forth about an issue or idea. “Dialogue” in the dictionary means “a conversation between two or more people, real or made up.” Critics of drama say that to read drama, you have to read the dialogue.
As we’ve talked about character and conflict, we’ve come to an important part of dramatic characters: how they talk, or dialogue. In a dialogue, there are two people talking, while in a monologue, there is only one. A soliloquy is a way for a character to say what’s on their mind. This is an important part of dialogue in drama. A character’s thoughts are shown in a soliloquy so that the audience can understand what he or she is thinking at a certain time. Soliloquies are different from asides, which are comments made directly to the audience while other characters are around but don’t hear what is being said. In contrast to a soliloquy, an aside is usually just a short comment.
Dialogue is a very significant element. Dialogue shows what kind of person someone is and how he or she is related to the person being talked to or to someone who is not there at the time of the conversation. The action of a drama moves forward because of the dialogue. “Dialogue is dramatic speech,” says J. L. Styan, and he’s right.
Drama is a different kind of writing than other kinds. It has unique qualities that have come about because of how strange it is. In reality, it’s hard to tell drama from performance, because drama brings real-life experiences to the stage during a play’s performance. It is the most straightforward type of writing. When you read a novel, you read something that is short or written in a shortened way. The playwright doesn’t tell the story; instead, the characters talk to each other and act out their lives on stage. In drama, the characters (played by actors) talk to themselves and act based on how they feel at the time. So, dialogue is how drama is shown.
The protagonist’s struggle against fate, nature, society, or another person can be the conflict. Conflict is not required, but it is a necessary part of drama. Conflict makes a story interesting. Conflict is a fight or competition of some kind. The drama is interesting because there are problems to solve. Without it, the drama would be boring and not at all interesting. There are two kinds of conflicts: those that come from inside and those that come from outside. An internal conflict is a fight between a person and himself or herself. This is also known as a psychological conflict. There are three types of external conflict: man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature, man vs. supernatural (God, ghosts, monsters, spirits, aliens, etc.), man vs. fate (fight for choice, fight against fate), man vs. technology (computers, machines, etc.).
Drama is all about having things go wrong. It gives life light and gives people dignity and worth. In modern drama, the main source of conflict is between the philosophical idea that life has meaning and the experience that it doesn’t. So, the practises lead us to think about the different kinds of conflicts that dramatists deal with, such as philosophical or ideological, old and new, religious and secular, dogmatic and progressive, radical and dogmatic, etc.
Directions for the stage:
Drama is different from other kinds of writing because actors tell a story in front of an audience with the help of a set, lights, music, and costumes. Stage directions are instructions or suggestions that the playwright puts in the script. They are the rules that the producer and author should follow. In the past, stage directions were clear and simple. They told the actors what the play would look like and gave them general directions. Stage directions connect the reader to the person who wrote the play. In old plays, these roles were done by the chorus. In modern drama, the stage directions are a way for the playwright to try to keep control of the production. On stage, theatre artists bring the playwright’s ideas to life. The people in the audience react to the play and share the experience.
The main idea is that we can figure out what a play is about by seeing it and looking at its different parts. The word “theme” is used to describe a play’s main idea or point in a general way. Because figuring out a play’s theme means taking a general idea from it, the idea of the theme always moves away from the characters and actions that give the play life. This doesn’t mean that trying to find a play’s main idea or set of ideas isn’t interesting or helpful; it just means that we should be aware of how hard it is to do.
Characteristics of Drama
Drama is a powerful form of literature that has been used for centuries to tell stories and explore important themes. From ancient Greek tragedies to modern plays and movies, drama continues to captivate audiences with its rich characters, engaging plots, and immersive performances.
So what are the key characteristics that make drama such a compelling art form? Here are some of the most important:
Conflict is at the heart of drama. It’s the source of tension, and it drives the plot forward. Conflict can take many forms, such as a struggle between two characters, an internal struggle within a character, or a conflict between a character and society or nature. Without conflict, drama can feel flat and uninteresting.
Dialogue is essential in drama, as it’s the primary means of communicating the story. Dialogue can reveal character traits, relationships, and emotions, and it can move the plot forward. Well-crafted dialogue can be powerful and memorable, and it’s a crucial tool for engaging an audience. Good dialogue should be realistic and natural, reflecting the way people actually speak. It should also be engaging and move the story forward.
Characters are the driving force of drama. They bring the story to life, and their actions and motivations drive the plot forward. In drama, characters are typically complex and multi-dimensional, with strengths and weaknesses, virtues and flaws. Good characterization can make the audience care about the characters and become invested in their struggles. Characters should be well-rounded and believable, with their own unique personalities, flaws, and motivations.
The plot is the backbone of drama. It’s the sequence of events that unfolds throughout the story, and it’s what keeps the audience engaged. A well-crafted plot will have twists and turns, ups and downs, and a satisfying resolution. It should keep the audience guessing and on the edge of their seats.
Theme is the underlying message or idea in a work of drama. It is what the story is really about, beyond the surface-level events and characters. It’s the deeper meaning that the audience takes away from the story. Themes can be universal, such as love, death, or betrayal, or they can be more specific to the story. A strong theme can elevate a work of drama and give it greater resonance and meaning. A good drama should explore its themes in a thought-provoking way, leaving the audience with something to think about after the play is over.
Setting is the physical and social environment in which the drama takes place. It can include the time, the location, and the cultural context. Setting can be used to create atmosphere, establish mood, and provide context for the story. A vivid and evocative setting can transport the audience into the world of the drama and make it feel more real. The setting should be well-described and contribute to the overall mood and tone of the story.
In conclusion, drama is a complex and multi-faceted genre that combines elements such as conflict, dialogue, characterization, plot, theme, and setting to create a compelling story. By understanding these characteristics, writers and audiences alike can appreciate the power and impact of drama.
Drama is often designed to evoke strong emotions from both the actors and the audience. This can include feelings like love, fear, anger, sadness, and joy, and can help to create a powerful and memorable experience for everyone involved.
Unlike other forms of literature, drama is meant to be performed live or on film. This means that the actors’ performances are a crucial element of the overall experience, and can help to bring the story and characters to life in a way that engages and entertains the audience.
Drama is, therefore, a rich and complex art form that continues to captivate audiences around the world. Whether you’re watching a classic tragedy or a modern play or movie, the key characteristics of dialogue, conflict, plot, setting, characterization, emotion, and performance all work together to create a powerful and memorable experience that stays with you long after the final curtain has fallen.
Drama is a copy of a real action. It is a branch of literature which is both literary art and representational art. As a form of writing, it is about making up a story and showing it through characters and dialogue. But it’s a different kind of fiction because it’s meant to be acted out instead of told. When we read a book or short story, the narrator or author helps us understand and enjoy the story. In drama, on the other hand, the characters act out the story for us. The writer of the play says nothing or tries to explain anything. So, drama gives us a clear picture of what life is like. Because of this, it is called a “representational” art. So, drama uses language in the form of gestures or dialogue to show or represent what is happening. The story is told through the people in it. Actors are the people who play these roles.