Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning “action”, which is derived from the verb meaning “to do” or “to act”. The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a collective form of reception. The structure of dramatic texts, unlike other forms of literature, is directly influenced by this collaborative production and collective reception.
Types of Drama
We have seven (7) types of drama which are;
(a) Tragedy: Tragedy is one of the oldest forms of drama; however, its meaning has changed since the earliest days of staged plays. In ancient times, a tragedy was often an historical dramas featuring the downfall of a great man. In modern theater, the definition is a bit looser. Tragedy usually involves serious subject matter and the death of one or more main characters. These plays rarely have a happy ending.
(b) Comedy: When we talk about comedy, we usually refer to plays that are light in tone, and that typically have happy endings. The intent of a comedic play is to make the audience laugh. In modern theater, there are many different styles of comedy, ranging from realistic stories, where the humour is dived from real-life situations, to outrageous slapstick humour.
(c) Farce: Farce is a sub-category of comedy, characterized by greatly exaggerated characters and situations. Characters tend to be one-dimensional and often follow stereotypical behaviour. Farces typically involve mistaken identities, lots of physical comedy and outrageous plot twists.
(d) Tragic-comedy: Tragic comedy is a play that starts with a tragedy and end with happy ending.
(e) Melodrama: Melodrama is another type of exaggerated drama. As in farce, the characters tend to be simplified and one-dimensional. The formulaic storyline of the classic melodrama typically involves a villain, a heroine, and a hero who must rescue the heroine from the villain.
(f) Musical: In musical theatre, the story is told not only through dialogue and acting but through music and dance. Musicals are often comic, although many do involve serious subject matter. Most involve a large cast and lavish sets and costumes.
(g) Playlet: A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, to Community theatre, as well a University or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed or read. The term “play” can refer to both the written works of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.
IMPORTANCE OF DRAMA
(i) Drama encourages kids to work collaboratively. They take part in activities where they must rely on each other and learn to trust.
(ii) Drama is a wonderful way for children to interact with, and interpret literature, or text of any sort. They got opportunities to analyze how a character’s personality, motives and actions influence the plot. This can be as simple as understanding and portraying the fear that a piggy feels when confronted by a wolf. Some kids who think they don’t like books will find their way to reading by dramatizing a story or poem.
(iii) Drama develops communication skills. Kids learn how to use their face, voice and body movements to get a message across to any audience, whether it be at job interview, on stage, or with a group of friends.
(iv) Drama allows kids to practice many of the higher order thinking skills in a playful context. They must think critically, apply knowledge to new situations, analyze, solve problems, make decisions, collaborate all skills that will benefit not just their reading and writing, but every core subject at school.
(v) Drama prepares kids for real life. In our rush to have children acquire academic learning, we often forget their personal and social development. The emphasis in drama is on being a team member and working collaboratively rather than hogging the limelight for yourself. Kids are expected to be active, reflective, flexible, responsible and responsive – all skills that will benefit them in every facet of their lives.
(vi) Drama gives kids an outlet for their creativity. Not every child can wield a paintbrush to their own satisfaction or play an instrument like a virtuoso. Drama is a level playing field. I have seen so many children blossom in drama classes.
(vii) Drama encourages self-discipline. It might look and sound messy and noisy, but it isn’t mayhem. It’s not about putting yourself first. It’s about working as a group.
(viii) Drama gives us a way to gain understanding of others. We learn tolerance by walking a mile in another’s shoes, and drama is a way to do that.
CHARACTERISTICS OF DRAMA
There are five (5) characteristics of drama which are;
(1) Meant to be acted on stage.
(3) Written in Acts and scenes.
(4) Audience watched the play.
Elements of Drama
1. Dialogue: Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more (“dia” means through or across) people. It chief historical origins as narrative, philosophical or didactic device are to be found in classical Greek and india literature, in particular in the ancient art of rhetoric. While the dialogue was less important in the nineteenth century than it had been in the eighteenth, it was not extinct. The British author W.H. Mallock employed it successfully in his work “The New Republic,” which was explicitly based on Plato’s “Republic” and on the writings of Thomas Love Peacock. But the notion of dialogue reemerged in the cultural mainstream in the work of cultural critics such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Paulo Freire, theologians such as Martin Buber, as an existential palliative to counter atomization and social alienation in mass industrial society.
2. Action: The process or state of acting or being active; something done or performed; act; deed. An act that one consciously will s and t hat may be characterized by physical or mental activity: a crisis that demands action instead of debate; hoping for constructive action by the landlord. Actions, habitual or usual acts; conduct.
3. Comic Relief: Comic relief usually means a releasing of emotional or other tension resulting from a comic episode interposed in the midst of serious or tragic elements in a drama. Comic relief often takes the form of a bumbling, wisecracking sidekick of a hero or villain in a work of fiction. A sidekick used for comic relief will usually comment on the absurdity of a hero’s situation and make comments that would be inappropriate for a character who is to be taken seriously. Other characters may use comic relief as a means to irritate others or keep themselves confident.
4. Soliloquy: A soliloquy is a device often used in drama when a character speaks to himself or herself, relating thoughts and feelings, thereby also sharing them with the audience. Other characters, however, are not aware of what is being said. A soliloquy is distinct from a monologue or an aside: a monologue is a speech where one character addresses other characters; an aside is a (usually short) comment by one character towards the audience.
5. Aside: An aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience. By convention the audience is to realize that the character’s speech is unheard by other characters on stage. It maybe addressed to the audience expressly (in character or out) or represent an unspoken thought. An aside is usually a brief comment, rather than a speech, such as amonologue or soliloquy. Unlike a public announcement, it occurs within the context of the play. An aside is, by convention, a true statement of a character’s thought; a character may be mistaken in an aside, but may not be dishonest.
6. Suspense: Suspense is a feeling of pleasurable fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from an unpredictable, mysterious, and rousing source of entertainment. The term most often refers to an audience’s perceptions in a dramatic work. Suspense is not exclusive to fiction. It may operate whenever there is a perceived suspended drama or a chain of cause is left in doubt, with tension being a primary emotion felt as part of the situation. In the kind of suspense described by film director Alfred Hitchcock, an audience experiences suspense when they expect something bad to happen and have (or believe they have) a superior perspective on events in drama’s hierarchy of knowledge, yet they are powerless to intervene to prevent it from happening. Films having a lot of suspense belong in the genre.
7. Prologue: A prorogue from the Greek word pro (before) and lógos, (word) is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Greek prologos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance, more like the meaning of preface. The importance, therefore, of the prologue in Greek drama was very great; it sometimes almost took the place of a romance, to which, or to an episode in which, the play itself succeeded.
8. Epilogue: An epilogue is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature usually used to bring closure to the work. It is presented from the perspective of within the story; when the author steps in and speaks indirectly to the reader, that is more properly considered an afterword. The opposite is prologue – a piece of writing at the beginning of a work of literature or drama, usually used to open the story and capture interest.