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Introduction to Drama

Why do we need to study drama?

The word is taken directly from the Greek drama, meaning a deed or action of the stage. The Greek word evolved from the Greek term dran, meaning to do or to act.

Is a composition in prose or verse presenting a narrative involving conflict and usually designed for presentation on a stage. Aristotle called it imitated human action. This type of composition needs a theater, actors, and an audience in order to be fully experienced; reading it is not enough. Sometimes, the word is used to mean a serious play.



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 humor is derived from real-life situations, to outrageous slapstick humor.


In ancient times, a tragedy was often a historical drama 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.

Historical Development of Philippine Drama

Pre-Spanish Period Duplo-poetical debateheld by trained men and women in the ninth night, the last night of mourning period for the dead. Karagatan- was also a poetical debate like the duplo, but its participants were amateurs. Both Duplo and Karagatan were held in the homes. The theme was all about a ring that fell into the sea.

The first recorded drama was staged in Cebu way back in 1598. It was a comedia written by Vicente Puche and was performed in honor of Msgr. Pedro de Agurto, Cebus first bishop (Marcelo, 1972). Eleven years later, in 1609, another stage play portraying the life of Santa Barbara was staged in Bicol.

There were three kinds of plays which became popuplar among the masses during the Spanish era. Cenakulo- a heavy drama about the suffering, sacrifices and death of Jesus Christ. Kinds: a. Ablada (Oral) b. Kantada (Sang)

- is a play about the wars between the Christians and the Muslims. - The first written moro-moro was written by Fr. Jeronimo Perez and was staged in Manila in 1673, to commemorate General Consueras victory over the Muslims of Mindanao

Zarzuela is a melodrama with songs and dances that has a three-in-one-act play. It reflects life, love, fear, grief, sorrow or any emotional feeling. It sometimes shows the political and social conditions of our country.

American Colonial
Seditious plays vaudeville and zarzuela.

Contemporary Drama
University-based theater

Characterization a. Antagonist b. Protagonist

Plot- chronological sequence of events. *conventions Stagecraft- The stage creates its effects in spite of, and in part because of, definite physical limitations. Setting and action tend to be suggestive rather than panoramic or colossal. Both setting and action may be little more than hints for the spectator to fill out.

Dialogue: This refers to the words written by the playwright and spoken by the characters in the play. The dialogue helps move the action of the play along. Music/Rhythm: While music is often featured in drama, in this case Aristotle was referring to the rhythm of the actors' voices as they speak.

Theme: While plot refers to the action of the play, theme refers to the meaning of the play. Theme is the main idea or lesson to be learned from the play. In some cases, the theme of a play is obvious; other times it is quite subtle.

Audience: This is the group of people who watch the play. Many playwrights and actors consider the audience to be the most important element of drama, as all of the effort put in to writing and producing a play is for the enjoyment of the audience.