Introduction to drama Essay

Drama is a literary signifier affecting parts written for histrions to execute ; it is a Grecian word which means action. [ 1 ] The beginning of Western theater is supposed to be found in Ancient Greece. Drama likely developed in Ancient Greece from the festivals, honoring Dionysus, the Greek God of birthrate and vino. In the Middle Ages, play in Europe dealt with spiritual word pictures. The dramas were chiefly Biblical, therefore had significant relevancy to Christian elements. Although the Christian church did much to stamp down the public presentation of dramas, it is really in the church that mediaeval play began. Mystery plays, the most celebrated of which is The Second Shepherd ‘s Play, depicted Biblical episodes from the Creation to Judgment Day. Another of import type that developed from church Holy Eucharist [ 2 ] was the miracle drama, based on the lives of saints instead than on Bible. The miracle drama reached its extremum in France and the enigma drama in England. However, both types bit by bit became secularized. The Second Shepherds ‘ Play, despite its spiritual earnestness, is most noteworthy for its elements of pragmatism and travesty, while the miracle plays in France frequently emphasize comedy and escapade. A 3rd type of spiritual play is the morality drama. The morality dramas, which were chiefly spiritual fables, appeared early in the fifteenth century, the most celebrated being Everyman.

Drama has ever been a mark of the authorities and society. The ground why play was criticized in Middle Ages was likely because histrions were considered to be individuals who were taking on other people ‘s personalities, and were hence thought either to be insane or perchance possessed by evil liquors. A 2nd ground why play was so frequently criticized might hold been because theater was considered immoral, profane or insurgent – we must observe that theatrical public presentations were sometimes used as unfavorable judgment of the authorities, able to rouse people. A 3rd ground might hold been spiritual since many of the medieval play were based on Christian church. Many of the dramas were Biblical and were applicable to the Church.

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Drama in England reached its extremum during Queen Elizabeth ‘s reign. Elizabethan play “ . . . has been called a great national vocalization because in it spoke the spirit of England, despite all its imitations and adoptions from foreign beginnings ” and “ . . . there has ne’er been an age which so instantly responded to an artistic entreaty ” ( Schelling xiii ) . We should detect the fact that “ . . . [ n ] O plays closely resembling those of the great Elizabethans appeared before the last one-fourth of the 16th century, before the calamities of Kyd and Marlowe and the comedies of Lyly and Greene ” The public theaters were being built in 1576 ; and “ the first powerful dramas appeared about 1587 ” ( Wells 4 ) .

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603. In 1642 The English Civil War broke out between the Parliamentarians ( Puritans ) and the Royalists in England and theaters were closed to forestall public upset. In 1644 The Globe Theatre was demolished by the Puritans. From 1642 onward for 18 old ages, the theaters of England remained closed. They likely illicitly performed dramas but those public presentations were given in secretiveness. [ 3 ] Neither histrions nor witnesss were safe during those yearss of the Puritan regulation. The playwrights were non allowed to be inspired during this clip. The Puritans led by Oliver Cromwell opposed theatrical public presentations. “ Puritanism declared [ theatre ] an ungodly and frivolous thing and decreed that it should be no more ” ( Schelling 274 ) . In 1649, the English Civil War resulted in the executing of King CharlesI and the constitution of a commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. Finally in 1660 the Stuart dynasty was restored to the throne of England and the theaters were reopened.

Charles ‘s decease marked the beginning of the eleven-year Interregnum in which Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector. After Cromwell ‘s decease, England turned to Charles ‘s boy and acknowledged him as Charles II. The exhumed caputs of Cromwell, his son-in jurisprudence, and the High Court ‘s President were placed on public show atop Westminster Hall. The day of remembrance of Charles ‘s executing became a day of the month of memorialization on the liturgical calendar of the Anglican Church. ( Sirico 51 )

Charles II, the male monarch, had been in France and he of course brought with him some Gallic manners. That Gallic influence was felt peculiarly in the theater since “ Charles returned from his expatriate with a really definite love of the play and of literature in general ( Nicoll 8 ) . The play of the Restoration, Thorndike states, “ . . . was separated from the earlier periods by 16 old ages of closed theaters and a practical surcease of all dramatic composing ; ” “ . . . the Restoration brought non merely a resurgence but besides a revolution – new manners, new theoretical accounts, new foreign influence, a new age, and a changed society ” ( Thorndike 243 ) .

Although the Puritans had lost their authorization in political power, they had non lost bravery in mistreating the phase. The most violent onslaught was made by Jeremy Collier, a reverend, in 1698, in a booklet called A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage, Collier ‘s onslaught on play has three points: the alleged lewdness of the dramas, the frequent mentions to the Bible and scriptural characters, and the unfavorable judgment, “ slander and maltreatment flung from the phase upon the clergy ” . He criticized Shakespeare ‘s Desdemona demoing her love and celibacy ; he was opposed to any mention to anything connected to the Church or faith ; and he was against any portraiture of the clergy. Collier even accused dramatists of lauding all the wickednesss, passions which they portrayed in their characters. [ 4 ]

The Puritan Revolution was fought non merely against the King, but besides against theater ; but the theater was ne’er so eventually and roundly defeated as the King. The brushs and conflicts were every bit protracted and acrimonious, but the growing of the Elizabethan — Jacobean play was so stalwart and so beloved to so many Englishmans that it ne’er wholly died. Regulation after regulation was passed against phase dramas, but at that place was barely a twelvemonth in London from 1842 to 1660 when dramas were non being given. The records are full of perennial foraies by the soldiers of Parliament, the ictus of participants and their goods, the rummage of wendy houses and their physical destruction, and the jailing of theatre people. But these really records show that the Puritans had non succeeded in destructing theatrical activity. ( Roberts 228 )

With the accession of Queen Anne in 1702, play was once more a mark of unfavorable judgment since Queen Anne “ was wholly disinterested in the humanistic disciplines, literature, and theater ” ( Roberts 250 ) . The beginning of the reign of Queen Anne in 1702 “ . . . marked the concluding backdown of tribunal involvement in play ” Therefore English theater was no longer for the tribunal but “ the belongings of citizens ( Roberts 252 ) . The Age of Reason valued scientific discipline, logic, and reason ; denied emotionality and wanted an ordered society. In the country of literature, writers declared their independency of frequenters, and composing became a signifier of gaining one ‘s life. Monetary values for theaters were higher than today, and well higher than under Elizabeth I. Since play became a commercial field, there had been inventions on the theatre edifices every bit good as phase props and costumes of the histrions.

In the political convulsion of the 19th century in Europe, play was sometimes abused. The opinion categories tended to utilize theater as a propaganda instrument during the Gallic Revolution ( Roberts 350 ) . In the 20th century, on the other manus, play consisted of realist scenes true to life. The turning popularity of the gesture image affected play. Soon wireless and telecasting increased in popularity, which foreshadowed the possible terminal of unrecorded theater ; yet it did non stop.

Despite all the onslaughts and troubles, theater has ever been alive. It has survived since the 5th century B.C. In its long history, theater has ever had challengers. However it has ne’er been defeated ; on the contrary, it has accomplished glory. Theatre is non merely an of import portion of a peculiar society that is depicted in dramas ; it is besides the most human signifier of art that has of all time existed.


  • Nicoll, Allardyce. A History of Restoration Drama 1660-1700. England, Cambridge University Pres: 1923.
  • Roberts, Vera Mowry. On Phase a History of Theatre. New York, Harper & A ; Row: 1962.
  • Schelling, Felix E. Elizabethan Drama, 1558-1642: A History of the Drama in England from the Acession of Queen Elizabeth to the Shutting of the Theaters. Volume II. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company: 1908.
  • Sirico Jr, Louis J. “ The Trial of Charles I: A Sesquitricentennial Contemplation. ” Constitutional Commentary. Volume: 16: 1999.
  • Thorndike, Ashley H. Tragedy. Boston, Houghton Mifflin: 1908.
  • Wells, Henry W. Elizabethan and Jacobean Playwrights. New York, Columbia University Press: 1939.
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