What is the drama?

We explain what drama is, the different ways it can be classified and some examples of this literary genre.

  1. What is the drama?

Drama or drama is one of the literary genres of antiquity , as described by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, forerunner of what we know today as  dramaturgy  or  theater.

The term in fact comes from the Greek  drama  that translates “acting”, which makes perfect sense because in the drama the literary and fictional action is put on stage through dialogues and actions in an indefinite present time .

Traditionally it distinguishes between drama and theater , however. The first would be the set of linguistic elements, written or not , that make up the characters , the dialogues (or monologues, soliloquies), the dimensions of the action and the descriptions of the fictional world in which the action takes place, and is a literary genre .

The second, on the other hand, would be the materialization of this genre, its spectacular appearance, involving the actors, the stage, the direction, etc.

The drama has its origin in classical Greek culture , in which it played a key political and religious role, as it staged stories or scenes from stories from the Greek mythological and religious tradition, in which the civic and political values ​​considered were also expressed. necessary to preserve.

Representations were made in the agora, public space and market, accompanied by musical instruments. They were commonly represented in honor of the god Dionysus , but there was a whole calendar of representations, and they always sought to reach  catharsis : the purging of emotions through suffering on stage, which left the public “clean” of their passions and allowed them to be better citizens .

Many of these texts , written by the great composers of the time (mainly Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides, in tragedy; and Aristophanes in comedy)  survive until today and are part of the most important literary collection of the West.

  1. Types of drama

According to the traditional classification of Aristotle, the drama comprises two major genres, which are:

  • The tragedy . The highest genre, according to Aristotle, and of greater poetic effect, consisted of the representation of men better than they are, so that their fall from misfortune has a much greater cathartic effect on the public.
  • Comedy . Contrary to tragedy , it represents men much worse than they really are, to make fun of them. Thus, it serves as a satirical genre against power, as it allows citizens to laugh at their kings for a while.

However, today the dramatic genre is understood in very different ways and the following genres have been incorporated into this list:

  • Piece . The realistic dramatic play par excellence, endowed with complex and common characters faced with extreme situations in their lives.
  • Melodrama . Its name means “musical drama” and pursues an emotional reaction from the public through situations of conflict of values, often of a pathetic type or very intense drama. Telenovelas, for example, are a form of contemporary melodrama.
  • Tragicomedy . A combination of tragic and comic aspects in an unrealistic genre, usually complex anecdote and simple, archetypal characters.
  • Didactic work . A form of dramatic work that invites the viewer to reflection, through simple characters and complex anecdotes, full of philosophical or existential reflections and propositions.
  • Farce . It is an impure genre that takes elements of any other dramatic genre to build a symbolic anecdote, often difficult to interpret.

There are also avant-garde or contemporary theatrical proposals such as the theater of the absurd or the theater of cruelty, which use drama and theatrical space as mechanisms of political, social or experimental action, and which generally have large and unique theorists.

  1. Examples of the dramatic genre

Some examples of known dramatic works are:

  • The Trojans  (415 BC) of Euripides
  • Oedipus king  (c. 430 BC) of Sophocles
  • Agamemnon  (458 BC) of Aeschylus
  • The frogs  (405 BC) of Aristophanes
  • On the damage caused by tobacco  (1886) by Anton Chekhov
  • Ubú  Rey  (1896) by Alfred Jarry
  • The irresistible ascension of Arturo  Ui  (1941) by Bertoldt Brecht
  • The bald singer  (1950) by Eugene Ionesco
  • Waiting for Godot  (1952) by Samuel Beckett

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