Drama is a distinctive fictitious form because it is intended to be performed out on a stage before an audience. The word ‘drama’ comes from the Greek word ‘dran’ meaning to act or to do. Drama brings a story to life before our eyes, the story of a play or drama is told through dialogue and action and is combined with the setting that the audience perceives essentially from scenery and props (Fatubun, 2016: 154-158).
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. Drama is a mode of fictional representation through dialogue and performance. 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. In drama the characters live out a story without any comments of the author, providing the audience a direct presentation of characters’ life experiences.
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. It is one of the literary genres, which is an imitation of some action. Drama is also a type of a play written for theaters, televisions, radios and films. In simple words, a drama is a composition in verse or prose presenting a story in pantomime or dialogue, containing conflict of characters, particularly the ones who perform in front of audience on the stage. The person who writes drama for stage directions is known as a dramatist or playwright.
Drama is intended to replicate human behavior and action in the midst of tragedy and everyday life. A number of genres exist within drama, each with their own storytelling methods, character types and dramatic approach. Generally, though Shakespeare wrote the types of plays. There are four main genres of drama: the tragedy, comedy, melodrama and tragicomedy. Thus, despite their categorical differences, Shakespeare’s plays have a few things in common:
- Time is the most important in his plays; he uses the length of the scenes in an act: Long Scene: time slows down, Short Scene: rapid movement of time (effect on the audience: confusion and disorientation);
- Chaos and confusion of the times are reflected in the structure of the plays;
- unity, all of Shakespeare’s plays move toward unity;
- truth, Women in Shakespeare’s Plays always know;
- The Monarchy (Mayer, 1993: 1081-1991 see also; Cuddon, 1993: 237-242; Fatubun, 2016: 154-158)
Understanding the characteristics of these genres generate a basic understanding of the influences and types of theater being created today.
- Comedy – Comedies are lighter in tone than ordinary writers, and provide a happy conclusion. A comedy makes us laugh when the play is well-composed with the humorous elements. The intention of dramatists in comedies is to make their audience laugh. Hence, they use quaint circumstances, unusual characters and witty remarks. Composing a comical drama requires high level of intellect and perceptive faculties, because provoking laughter is not as easy as it may seem.
- Melodrama – Melodrama is exaggeration of emotions, which is sensational and appeals directly to the senses of audience. a superbly executed melodramatic plot can absorb you completely. They usually depict the good and evil aspects of the characters involved. Just like the farce, the characters are of single dimension and simple, or may be stereotyped.
- Tragedy – Tragic dramas are one of the oldest forms of drama. It exposes the plight and suffering of humans to the audience. They use darker themes such as disaster, pain, ruins of a dynasty, moral setback, downfall of man, personal loss, emotional betrayals, death, and denials. Protagonists often have a tragic flaw a characteristic that leads them to their downfall.
- Tragi-Comedy – form combines elements from both tragedy and comedy; the audience is supposed to both cry and laugh. In other words, this form applies to almost any kind of drama that does not conform strictly to comic or tragic conventions. Sometimes this drama has realistic characters in surrealist settings. That is, the settings have a strange, dream like quality. The ending of tragi-comedy is not always predictable. Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Winter Tale, Measure for Measure, Merchant of Venice are some examples of this genre.