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Project

in
Language Arts
10
Submitted by:
Edward Vern M. Mallari
Katelyn M. Magadia

Submitted to:
Ms. Armina B. Yocte
Drama: Past to Present

Overview

Drama is a specific mode of fiction represented in a performance. The term drama came
from the Greek that means action (Classical Greek: , drama), which is derived from I
do (Classical Greek: , drao). The two masks associated with drama represent the
traditional generic division between comedy and tragedy. They symbolize the ancient Greek
muses, Thalia, and Melpomene. Thalia was the muse of Comedy (the laughing face), while
Melpomene was the muse of Tragedy (the weeping face). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drama).

Chua, Viloria, and Zara (2016) stated in their textbook, English for the 21st Century
Learners that there are six (6) types of drama namely: Comedy, Tragedy, Tragicomedy, Farce,
Melodrama, and Musical.

Sengupta (2016) stated that there are also six (6) types of drama according to his version.
Namely:

Comedy. A comedy makes us laugh when the play is well-composed with the humorous
elements. The story is usually based on real-life characters, funny experiences in life, or any type
of fun-provoking situation. A comical drama can also be sarcastic and raunchy. It is usually light
in tone and has happy endings. Composing a comical drama requires high level of intellect and
perceptive faculties, because provoking laughter is not as easy as it may seem.
(http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-drama.html).

Farce. According to the definition given by Britannica, it is a comic dramatic piece that uses
highly improbable situations, stereotyped characters, extravagant exaggeration, and violent
horseplay (as cited in Sengupta, 2016, para. 8).
Farce, although a sub-category of comedy, is intellectually inferior to comedy because the plots
and the characters are substantially crude, ambiguous, and unimaginative.
(http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-drama.html).

Tragedy. It is one of the oldest forms of drama. It exposes the plight and suffering of humans to
the audience. The perfect example of a tragic drama is Shakespeare's Hamlet. The theme of a
tragedy usually rotates around the ruins of a dynasty, downfall of man, emotional betrayals,
moral setback, personal loss, death, and denials. A tragedy when composed and enacted well can
touch you deeply. These rarely have happy endings. (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-
drama.html).
Melodrama is exaggeration of emotions. It's marked by a surge of emotions, which is a
technique to make the character and the plot more appealing to the audience. A melodrama can
sometimes fail to derive applause, because excessive display of emotions can become
monotonous. On the contrary, a superbly executed melodramatic plot can absorb you completely.
They usually depict the good and evil aspects of the characters involved.
(http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-drama.html).

Fictional. It is a complete fictional work where characters virtually display supernatural skills. It
is more appealing to children as fairies, angels, superheroes, etc., are embedded in the plot. Use
of magic, pseudo science, horror, and spooky themes through various kinds of technical devices
create a perfect world of fantasy. The modern version of drama incorporates a great deal of
special effects. (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-drama.html).

Musical. Music, melody, and dance play a significant role in a musical drama. Here, the story is
conveyed through music and dance along with dialogs and acting. The music should be in sync
with the actions, and the performer often uses dance as a means of self-expression. The stage
may be equipped with an orchestra, well-rehearsed with the plot and the use of music. Musical
drama became popular as opera, which is still considered to be intensely sensuous.
(http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-drama.html).

Drama is nowadays a common part of entertainment in our daily lives. It can be seen in
the television, books, novels, newspapers, and many other entertainment materials. It is even a
genre used in performing arts. It gives some flavor in our daily living that we even apply them in
our lives sometimes.

Drama is one of the best literary forms through which dramatists can directly speak to
their readers or audience as well as they can receive instant feedback of audience. A few
dramatists use their characters as a vehicle to convey their thoughts, values such as poets do with
personas, and novelists do with narrators. Since drama uses spoken words and dialogues, thus
language of characters plays a vital role, as it may give clues to their feelings, personalities,
backgrounds, and change in feelings, etc. In drama the characters live out a story without any
comments of the author, providing the audience a direct presentation of characters life
experiences. (https://literarydevices.net/drama/).

History of Drama

No one surely knows when people started acting out plays. What we do know is that all
drama is simply an imitation of actions or ideas. So many theories suggest that the first dramatic
stories were probably told by primitive tribes who would return from the hunt and reenact the
events for the rest of the tribe. (Carroll, 2017).
Over time, it may have become a ritual, and the performance might have taken place
before the hunt. Like most rituals, the shaman, the religious leader of the tribe, would have
eventually overseen it, and it would have become a sort of religious or spiritual celebration. This
could have set the stage for theatre for the next several hundred years. (Carroll, n.d.).

The Greeks used them to worship their gods. In doing this, they transformed drama from
a ritual into sort of a ritual-drama and held festivals in honor of the Greek god of wine and
fertility, Dionysus. Think of this sort of like spring break in Miami - everyone gets together in the
spring, drinks a lot, dresses up, celebrates fertility and then has a three-day contest in which three
playwrights would compete. Okay, that last part doesn't quite fit, but you do have excessive
amounts of drunk, over-sexed people spending three days watching plays - it's bound to get a
little bit rowdy. (Carroll, n.d.).

These early plays were performed by a group of men and boys called a chorus. The
chorus worked as a group to provide commentary on the action of the story. But even with the
introduction of individual actors, the chorus still remained in the background, acting as narrators
providing insight to the action on stage and the characters' thoughts. (Carroll, n.d.).

In fact, there were very few people on stage in general, which meant that everyone had to
play multiple parts. The drama masks that so many of us associate with theatre were used for
exactly this purpose. The smiling comedy mask and the frowning tragedy mask were visual
representations of Greek muses and were used to enhance the songs and actions on stage.
(Carroll, n.d.).

With this development of drama, it's no surprise that many famous plays came from this
time period. Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides are all well-known playwrights from this time,
though it is believed that many of their works were never recovered. (Carroll, n.d.).

Theatre continued to be popular through the fall of the Roman Empire. With the onset of
the Middle Ages from 500-1500 A.D., however, the Church had different views of the
mythological gods and saw theatre as evil. Most theatre was outlawed, and drama was only
performed by traveling groups of actors. (Carroll, n.d.).
Eventually, though, the Church saw the value of the ritualistic nature of drama, and began
to reenact short Bible stories during mass. Mystery plays were stories from the Bible. Miracle
plays focused on saints. Over time, these plays transformed into something known as morality
plays. These plays promoted a godly life, but they did not teach the Bible stories exclusively.
Instead, the morality plays worked as an allegory, which is a literary device where the characters
or events represent or symbolize other ideas and concepts. (Carroll, n.d.).

Morality plays, which featured a hero who must overcome evil, were allegorical in
nature. In the case of the morality plays, the hero represented mankind. The other characters
served as personifications of many things, including the Seven Deadly Sins, death, virtues and
even angels and demons - anything that wanted to take over mankind's soul. In the end, the hero
would choose the godly route. (Carroll, n.d.).

An example of a 15th century English morality play is Everyman. In the play, God sends
Death to strike down the sinners who have forgotten him. Death finds the main character,
Everyman, and tells him he is to begin his journey from life to death. Everyman asks if he can
bring someone with him, and Death agrees. Unfortunately, Everyman cannot persuade any of his
friends, who include Fellowship, Beauty, Kindred, Worldly Goods, to go with him on his
journey. Finally, Good Deeds says that she will go with him. Together they go into the grave and
ascend into heaven. The moral of this story is that good deeds will help every man get into
heaven. It is a subtle turn from the straight biblical stories, but it allowed for more secular forms
of drama during the Renaissance. (Carroll, n.d.).

You might already know the word Renaissance means 'rebirth'. In the case of drama, the
Renaissance, which lasted from approximately 1400-1700, was the rebirth of interest in theatre
across Europe. In fact, the Renaissance introduced many of the elements we still think of when
we imagine a theatre: indoor theatres, an arched stage, a curtain dropped between scenes, more
elaborate set design. All of these changes were implemented during the Renaissance. More
importantly, however, the purpose of drama transitioned from stories told by the Church to
stories made primarily for entertainment for both royalty and commoners. (Carroll, n.d.).

Usually when we hear the word Renaissance, especially in conjunction with drama, we
think of Shakespeare's England. What most people don't know is the Renaissance actually began
in Italy, where music, song and dance were implemented into the plays produced in the new
indoor theatres. From there, the rebirth of the arts moved to other countries in Europe. The
French imitated Italian theatre and boasted the talent of playwright Molire, whose plays poked
fun at the people in important positions. (Carroll, n.d.).
In Spain, they kept some of the religious dramas, but also began performing action-based
plays. It wasn't until later that the Renaissance was embraced in England during the reign of
Queen Elizabeth I and continued through the reign of King James I and King Charles I. Theatre
flourished during this time, producing several great playwrights. These included Christopher
Marlowe, who was known for writing tragedies, and Ben Jonson, who was known for writing
comedies. Of course, most well known of all was William Shakespeare, who wrote both and is
still popular today. (Carroll, n.d.).

Theatre remained popular with a few minor changes after the Renaissance and during the
Reformation, when women began acting on stage. By the 1800s, however, Romanticism, which
began in Germany, began to influence the content of scripts written for the stage. The typical
romantic play focused on a hero who was fighting against an unjust society to maintain his rights
as a human being. These plays embraced nature and the supernatural. (Carroll, n.d.).

The most popular of these was the melodrama, a play where the hero always succeeds.
There was usually a battle of good and evil, complete with special effects, like train crashes,
horse races and earthquakes. It was during the Romantic period that German playwright Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe wrote Faust, and French playwright Alexandre Dumas, produced scripts
for the novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. (Carroll, n.d.).

With new scientific and psychological discoveries, people began to want more realistic
stories that reflected the world around them. This transition into realism was a reaction against
the Romantic idealism. In fact, most literature can be characterized as either romantic or realistic.
Unlike the melodrama, realistic plays usually did not have a happy ending. Henrik Ibsen's A
Doll's House tells the story of a woman who leaves her husband and children in an effort to find
herself. Ibsen argues that a woman could not find herself in modern society, a controversial idea
at the time of its production. At first, audiences preferred the melodrama to the more serious
nature of realism, but over time, these plays did become popular and have remained popular even
today. (Carroll, n.d.).

Eugene O'Neill, who wrote in the first half of the 20th century, was a Nobel laureate and
the first American playwright to find success abroad. His realistic play, Long Day's Journey into
Night, is somewhat autobiographical, as it explores his family's struggle with addiction and loss.
(Carroll, n.d.).
After World War II, several American playwrights became popular. Arthur Miller, who
was once married to Marilyn Monroe, wrote the play, The Crucible, in response to the McCarthy
trials of the 1950s. His play, Death of a Salesman, won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize. Tennessee
Williams is another famous American playwright, whose works have a more poetic quality.
Williams' The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire are still widely read and
performed. (Carroll, n.d.).

Realistic theatre is extremely popular in spite of some of the attempts to move away from
the style. Among these attempts is absurdism. The primarily European Theatre of the
Absurd of the 1950s sprung from the belief that our existence has no purpose and, as a result,
there is little in the world that is logical or rational. In absurdism, the dialogue is illogical and the
actions irrational. These plays usually end in silence. Absurdist plays, while still written and
produced today, are not part of mainstream theatre. (Carroll, n.d.).

Minority theatre, a term for plays focused on minority groups and their struggles, began
finding success in the 1960s. Lorraine Hansberry was both the first African-American and the
first African-American woman to find success in American theatre. Her play, A Raisin in the
Sun, shows the struggles of a multi-generational African-American family as they attempt to
achieve the American dream. (Carroll, n.d.).

Minority plays continue to be written. In 1983, August Wilson wrote a series of plays
called the Pittsburgh Cycle, 10 plays that explore the African-American experience. The most
famous of these is Fences, which looks at race relations in the 1950s. Today, modern
theatre has become a mix of styles and has expanded with the use of multimedia. (Carroll, n.d.).

Drama has truly evolved across time. From Primitive Theatre to Greek Choruses, to
Middle Age Plays, to Renaissances Shakespearian Plays, to the discovery of Melodrama, and to
Modern Theatre Plays. Drama has never ceased to transform relation to time and generation.

Modern Drama
Kennedy (2014) said that Henrik Ibsen is famously known as the Father of Modern
Drama, and it is worth recognizing how literal an assessment that is.

The Norwegian playwright was not merely one of a wave of new writers to
experiment with dramatic form, nor did he make small improvements that were built upon by
successors. Rather, Ibsen himself conceived of how the theatre should evolve, and, against great
adversity, fulfilled his vision. (Kennedy, 2014).

The standing of the theater in the 1850s was at its lowest, in both Europe and the United
States, supplies Ibsen scholar Brian Johnston. In Britain, for example, the last new play of any
significance to appear until the arrival of A Dolls House in London in 1889 was Richard
Brinsley Sheridans The School for Scandal (1777). During one of the most prolific periods
of English-speaking literature, which saw the full flowering of the Romantic movement in poetry
and the arts and the rise of the realistic novel as a major literary genre, not a single drama of
major significance appeared. It was the period, in fiction, of Austen, the Bronts, Dickens,
George Eliot, Hawthorne, Melville, James, Wharton; in poetry, of Blake, Wordsworth,
Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Whitman. No other period has been
at once so rich in literature and so barren in drama. Adding to the obstacles was the fact that
Ibsen hailed from Norway, a country with almost no dramatic tradition of its own. Because
Denmark had ruled Norway for the previous 500 years, most theatre was performed in Danish,
by Danish companies. (Kennedy, 2014).

Ibsen rose to prominence in large part because of his refusal to follow the rules of theatre
at the time. His determination to forge his own style of drama coincided with a rising demand by
the new intelligentsia for a serious thinking theatre, contrary to the frivolous entertainment on
mainstream stages. Ibsens realist plays, such as A Dolls House, Ghosts, and An Enemy of the
People, were championed by this class of society upon their publication. (Kennedy, 2014).

New theatres were formed in Berlin, Paris and London for the sole purpose of performing
Ibsens plays, since no commercial mainstream theatre would consider it. Within an
astonishingly short time, summarizes Johnston, the theatre, through Ibsen, had shaken off
its insignificance and disrepute to become a major, and highly controversial, force in modern
culture. (Kennedy, 2014).

The playwright deviated from the theatrical norm in a variety of ways, most
importantly, according to biographer Michael Mayer, by combining the three key innovations of
colloquial dialogue, objectivity, and tightness of plot. His creation of settings, characters and
narratives that were recognizable and relatable to his audiences was a monumental breakthrough.
The plays, categorized as Realism, tapped into the intelligentsias discomfort with the
hypocrisy between conventional moral values and the foundations and consequences of a post-
Darwin, industrial-capitalist society. James Joyce summed up the groundswell of praise for Ibsen
when he wrote: It may be questioned whether any man has held so firm an empire over
the thinking world in modern times. (Kennedy, 2014).

Ibsens major breakthrough in the English-speaking world came the year before he
wrote Hedda Gabler. The June 1889 production of A Dolls House at Londons Novelty Theatre,
starring Janet Achurch as Nora, launched the playwright into public consciousness. London
critics savaged the play in their reviews, but the show proved so popular the run had to be
extended. The influential London actor-manager Harley Granville Barker (who would go on to
stage and star in many of Bernard Shaws plays) remarked The play was talked of and written
aboutmainly abusively, it is true as no other play had been for years. (Kennedy, 2014).

Although A Dolls House was new to the English-speaking public, the play was ten years
old by the time it was performed in London in 1889. As a result, when Hedda Gabler opened at
Londons Vaudeville Theatre in April 1891, only two years later, theatregoers were surprised at
the direction Ibsens playwriting had evolved in what seemed like such a short time. In the
intervening years, the playwright completed two plays similar in style to A Dolls
House (Ghosts in 1881 and An Enemy of the People in 1882). Ghosts, with a plot touching upon
venereal disease and incestuous relationships, was widely banned. Ibsen then continued to delve
into darker and more psychologically complex depictions. Reviews of his next plays, The Wild
Duck (1884), Rosmersholm (1887), and The Lady from the Sea (1888) were mixed when first
published, but acclaim for Ibsen and his work continued to mount. Hedda Gabler would
continue this trend. (Kennedy, 2014).

Eugene O'Neill, who wrote in the first half of the 20th century, was a Nobel laureate and
the first American playwright to find success abroad. His realistic play, Long Day's Journey into
Night, is somewhat autobiographical, as it explores his family's struggle with addiction and loss.
(Carroll, n.d.).

After World War II, several American playwrights became popular. Arthur Miller, who
was once married to Marilyn Monroe, wrote the play, The Crucible, in response to the McCarthy
trials of the 1950s. His play, Death of a Salesman, won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize. Tennessee
Williams is another famous American playwright, whose works have a more poetic quality.
Williams' The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire are still widely read and
performed. (Carroll, n.d.).

Realistic theatre is extremely popular in spite of some of the attempts to move away from
the style. Among these attempts is absurdism. The primarily European Theatre of the
Absurd of the 1950s sprung from the belief that our existence has no purpose and, as a result,
there is little in the world that is logical or rational. In absurdism, the dialogue is illogical and the
actions irrational. These plays usually end in silence. Absurdist plays, while still written and
produced today, are not part of mainstream theatre. (Carroll, n.d.).

Minority theatre, a term for plays focused on minority groups and their struggles, began
finding success in the 1960s. Lorraine Hansberry was both the first African-American and the
first African-American woman to find success in American theatre. Her play, A Raisin in the
Sun, shows the struggles of a multi-generational African-American family as they attempt to
achieve the American dream. (Carroll, n.d.).

Minority plays continue to be written. In 1983, August Wilson wrote a series of plays
called the Pittsburgh Cycle, 10 plays that explore the African-American experience. The most
famous of these is Fences, which looks at race relations in the 1950s. Today, modern
theatre has become a mix of styles and has expanded with the use of multimedia. (Carroll, n.d.).

Present Drama in the Philippines

PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) is the leading theater-performing


institution in the Philippines. Founded by Cecile Guidote-Alvarez in April 7, 1967. By this
period, PETA began creating and performing theatrical plays in Filipino. Many of PETA's plays
were staged at the Dulaang Rajah Sulayman, an open-air theater designed by Leandro V. Locsin,
a National Artist. About 300 plays were adapted, translated, written, published, and performed by
the organization by the 1990s.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Educational_Theater_Association).

Aside from them, Tanghalang Pilipino, and Repertory Philippines also contribute to the
liveliness of drama plays in the Philippines.
Here are the list of theatrical shows to see in Manila in 2016:

50 Shades! The Musical Parody

3 Stars and a Sun

Rebel

Kalantiaw

Mabining Mandirigma

The Games Afoot

Constellations

Opera: A rebirth in Arabesque

Fun Home

Les Misrables

(http://www.spot.ph/arts-culture/64808/10-theatrical-shows-to-see-manila-2016)

It is really true that drama plays have captured our very hearts. Whether be it ancient or
modern ones, we enjoy them. We have already had drama attached to our life. For us, a life, is
not a life, without a bit of drama. They hold a piece of pie in our lives, which resembles a piece
of life.
Reference List:

References with authors:

Carroll, H. (n.d.). History of Drama: Dramatic Movements and Time Periods [Video file].
Retrieved from: http://study.com/academy/lesson/history-of-drama-dramatic-movements-
and-time-periods.html.
Chua, R., Viloria, M. V., Zara, N. (2016). English for the 21st Century Learners. Makati City,
Philippines: Diwa Learning Systems Inc.
Kennedy, B. (2014). The Father of Modern Drama. Retrieved from:
http://www.writerstheatre.org/blog/father-modern-drama/.
Sengupta, S. (2016). The Different Types of Drama That Everyone Should Know About.
Retrieved
from: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-drama.html.

References without authors:

10 Theatrical Shows to see in Manila in 2016. (2016, January 8). Retrieved from:
http://www.spot.ph/arts-culture/64808/10-theatrical-shows-to-see-manila-2016
Drama. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://literarydevices.net/drama/.
Drama. (2017, March 13). Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drama.
Philippine Educational Theater Association. (2016, November 6). Retrieved from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Educational_Theater_Association.