"All great truths begin as blasphemies." -- George Bernard Shaw To understand the difference between comedy and tragedy is easy: we laugh, we cry... what if we cry and laugh at the same time? Sounds crazy? How can the same hero be tragic and comical? Well, I am. Or you. Or anybody you know. We are "dramatic"! Yes, drama is a the strange contail of tragedy and comedy! Don't shake it! Drink it slow.... Cry -- and laugh, when you are done with fear and pity (Aristotle).
In fact, that is how the original Greek performance were arranged; the comedy would come as an intermission between tyragic stories. We can't cry all time, man!
Okay, in their ancient times the tragedy and comedy have different heroes and different plots! You know, the kings -- tragedy, the village idiots -- comedy. What about us? Well, the mechanism is the same; when you are in position of king, you are tragic. What "position"? When you have no answers for your questions, because nobody does.... Like, why people die?

The comedy element in our lives is obvious; we are stupid, we know it!

Now, how do we go from one mode to another? Read Chekhov first and come back.

Virtual Theatre Project: 3 Sisters and Cyber Chekhov 2001 -- join!

DramLit Class eForum

Some pages are used for both DramLit and Playscript Analysis classes; this is one of them.

Tragedy, Comedy and Drama are central definitions for studies of genre: according to Aristotle -- comedy, people below average, tragedy -- above.

Reading Chekhov Pages


Tragedy + Comedy = Drama? Williams: Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by you so quick you hardly catch it going.


Another "drama" page in Theatre Theory directory? Still dancing around -- where is the real definition of this genre?


For directing and acting drama, please, see Virtual 3 Sisters @ UAF, production notes Ionesco: No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.

Theatre Theory


Monologues & Scenes:

Trigorin (+ Nina)

Nina (Chekhov, Seagull)


The Swan Song

Mono Pages

European Theories of the Drama: An Anthology of Dramatic Theory and Criticism from Aristotle to the Present Day by Barrett H. Clark; Stewart & Kidd, 1918

Strategies of Drama: The Experience of Form by Oscar Lee Brownstein; Greenwood Press, 1991

Patterns in Modern Drama by Lodwick Hartley, Arthur Ladu; Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1948 [ - I. What is Drama? - Henrik Ibsen - An Enemy of the People - Anton Chekhov - Uncle Vanya - John Galsworthy - The Pigeon - Eugene O'Neill - The Emperor Jones - George Kelly - James Thurber Elliot Nugent - Lillian Hellman - The Little Foxes ]

The Theatre and Dramatic Theory by Allardyce Nicoll; Barnes & Noble, 1962

[ ] David Mamet: A Research and Production Sourcebook by David K. Sauer, Janice A. Sauer; Praeger, 2003

Theories of the Text by D. C. Greetham; Oxford University Press, 1999 *

Drama Intro 101:

... dramatic texts even look differently compared to poetic or narrative texts. One distinguishes between the primary text, i.e., the main body of the play spoken by the characters, and secondary text, i.e., all the text ‘surrounding’ or accompanying the main text: title, dramatis personae, scene descriptions, stage directions for acting and speaking, etc.

* Ever since Aristotle’s Poetics, if not before, scholars have been concerned with classifying literary texts according to predefined categories. The groups or classes of texts have been labelled by means of group-specific names. Thus, Aristotle already divided ancient plays into tragedies and comedies and attributed certain features to each type of drama. The labels we attach to groups of texts with similar or correlated features can be summarised under the heading genre. The three major generic groups are prose fiction, drama and poetry.

* Monologue, Dialogue, Soliloquy:

In drama, in contrast to narrative, characters typically talk to one another and the entire plot is carried by and conveyed through their verbal interactions. Language in drama can generally be presented either as monologue or dialogue. Monologue means that only one character speaks while dialogue always requires two or more participants. A special form of monologue, where no other person is present on stage beside the speaker, is called soliloquy. Soliloquies occur frequently in Richard III for example, where Richard often remains alone on stage and talks about his secret plans. Soliloquies are mainly used to present a character in more detail and also on a more personal level. In other words: Characters are able to ‘speak their mind’ in soliloquies. That characters explain their feelings, motives, etc. on stage appears unnatural from a real-life standpoint but this is necessary in plays because it would otherwise be very difficult to convey thoughts, for example. In narrative texts, by contrast, thoughts can be presented directly through techniques such as interior monologue or free indirect discourse.

Modern American Drama, 1945-2000 by C. W. E. Bigsby; Cambridge University Press, 2000 --

- Chapter One: The Absent Voice: American Drama and the Critic - Chapter Two: Eugene O'Neill's Endgame - Chapter Three: Tennessee Williams: the Theatricalising Self - Chapter Four: Arthur Miller: the Moral Imperative - Chapter Five: Edward Albee: Journey to Apocalypse - Chapter Six: A Broadway Interlude - Chapter Seven: Sam Shepard: Imagining - Chapter Eight: David Mamet: All True Stories - Chapter Nine: The Performing Self - Chapter Ten: Rede.Ning the Centre: Politics, Race, Gender - Chapter Eleven: Beyond Broadway

Benedetto Croce: Philosopher of Art and Literary Critic by Gian N. G. Orsini; Southern Illinois University Press, 1961

CHAPTER V. The Question of Literary Genres

CAN POETIC EXPRESSIONS be classified? Are there affinities among them that group them together in families, kinds or species? The question is of primary interest to literary criticism. For if works of literary art are subject to classification, such a classification would constitute a real "science of literature" and afford a solid foundation for the critical judgment.

This "science" of literature of course exists already and has been known for centuries. It is the theory of genres that was once the foundation of judicial criticism and is now the customary historical approach. There is no single authoritative statement of the classification of genres or kinds, but the epic, the drama and the lyric are supposed to be the principal ones, and there are several subdivisions, such as (for the drama) tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, farce, historical drama, social drama, melodrama, mystery plays, moralities, etc. etc. Other kinds have been added more or less systematically, such as the novel and the essay, or been considered descendants of the old ones: e.g. the novel is derived by some critics from the epic. [ ]

Genre Comedy + Tragedy

Genre Page in Stagematrix *



Mamet: We respond to a drama to that extent to which it corresponds to our dreamlife.
Drama is firmly associated with Realism. But why?
"Drama -- a literary composition, usually in dialogue form, that centers on the actions of fictional characters." (Modern Drama)

Go to any video store and find the "Drama" shelf... What do you see? Did you miss something? How about "Horror" and "Science Fiction"? They are in dialogue form and very much center around very fictional characters. The same with the comedy. Well, comedy is dramatic... What isn't?

What we really mean is drama is about CHARACTERS!

Remember the old man (Aristotle)? Plot, Character, Idea. Well, in drama both plot and idea are expressed through characters.

The key is the identification: I = hero.

Here is the complexity and power of drama.

[Phenomena of Identification is in Method Acting directory.]

Drama as Genre

* Drama is a term generally used to refer to a literary form involving parts written for actors to perform. * Drama is a Greek word meaning `action', drawn from the Greek verb dran, `to do'. [ wikipedia ]
I promised this page long ago and promised it because there is enormous confusion in understanding of genre. It's bad enough when you are in theatre history classes and disastrous when you are directing or acting without knowing the rules and laws of genre.

Practice, not theory! It was easy for Aristotle, lucky guy, he knew only tragedy and comedy! No drama?

Well, we don't have tragedies... No, we don't see them!

Genre? Literally, kind or type. Simple.

Not really.

Not at all.

filmplus.org/thrtheatre theory

[ Masks you see on Theatre pages are by a Russian artist, turn of the century, Zybacheff [52K] "Mask of Anger" from Lycos PicturesNOW! (Images are moved: Links) ]

Cast Idea, Genres

What is Genre?

When we had two "modes" of perception (tragic and comic), the issue of defining "genre" wasn't that important. Fear and release from it could explain two different attitudes. Go for Tragedy and Comedy pages.

Aristotle tried to define it in several ways. Composition: comedy starts in trouble, ends with a happy end.

Hero. Comedy hero is below average (tragedy is always opposite).

But what about DRAMA?

Style or Method?

Could be both.


Method and Style are connected... as much as author and his creation. We need to get to postmodern theories in order to understand the problematics of method. For now stick with periods and styles (there are two webpages of illustrations -- T-History and Theatre 215).

Drama is a Genre

Something between tragedy and comedy?

...well, yes and no.

Drama is something else. The third form. The Greeks didn't know drama for a reason. Without Shakespeare we wouldn't have it. In order for drama to exist we need INDIVIDUAL (Aristotle said -- hero).

No, friends, the greatest minds of antiquity weren't interested so much in this issue. I am in agreement with Mr. Bloom: Shakespeare invented me, the modern man. Not only he did, of course, but without this new concept (and feelings) drama wouldn't be possible.

Without our departure from gods and heroes, we can't write dramas.

Or elevating ourselves to the level of gods and heroes...

Do Aristitelean principles apply to drama?

Yes, very much so!

But we have to redefine Plot (Story), Character (Hero) and Thought (Idea).

Alright, the painting (Lidia) is not true "realism" (with a touch of impressionism, images are lost). But how abot "realism" in music? Any ideas?

The credits (artist's name, date and etc.) -- for later. [images are gone]


Drama Page @ THR Theory

I wish you take 200X Core Aesthetics first....

Dramatic v. Epic (Brecht)

At the end the overall message (Idea) of drama is different from tragedy or comedy (the law of genre). "The Open End" principle (no moralization), you, spectators, who become mortals again after leaving theatre, must think about it...


Socialist Realism

Mass culture dramatic principles ("the happy end" requirement, even if this is not drama -- American movies).


See SHOWS directory

Next: drama-theory theory
Mono studies: O'Neill, The Web

ROSE: D'yuh suppose they'd keep me any place if they knew what I was? And d'yuh suppose he wouldn't tell them or have someone else tell them? Yuh don't know the game I'm up against. [Bitterly.] I've tried that job thing. I've looked fur decent work and I've starved at it. A year after I first hit this town I quit and tried to be on the level. I got a job at housework -- workin' twelve hours a day for twenty-five dollars a month. And I worked like a dog, too, and never left the house I was so scared of seein' someone who knew me. But what was the use? One night they have a guy to dinner who's seen me some place when I was on the town. He tells the lady -- his duty he said it was -- and she fires me right off the reel. I tried the same thing a lot of times. But there was always someone who'd drag me back. And then I quit tryin'. There didn't seem to be no use. They -- all the good people -- they got me where I am and they're goin' to keep me there. Reform? Take it from me it can't be done. They won't let yuh do it, and that's Gawd's truth. ChekhovPages Shaw -- Pygmalion

DRAMA: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/reference/drama