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 Origin of the drama & stage

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PostSubject: Origin of the drama & stage   Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:35 pm


The modern drama traces its origins in religion, or more specifically in the church. Due to the lack of print media, it was difficult to communicate ideas and religious beliefs among the masses. Therefore on festival days, the priest selected some important incidents from the bible and presented it in the form of a play.

Thus the purpose of the drama was didactic, meaning to teach lessons and morals as well as to spread the word of religion.

The actors were the priests themselves and the drama was of a very crude form.

There was no special theatre, the theaters in the beginning were the halls of the church itself. After sometime the audience increased, so the theatre was moved over to the portico of the church. Once this location became overcrowded the priests organized drama troupes and the drama slowly came out onto open fields which were present in all church compounds in those days.

Thus the church slowly began to lose control over the drama, as more and more people copied it elsewhere for their own entertainment, the didactic content was lost as people began to modify the plays to suit their own needs.

This lead to the origin of the PLAYWRIGHT, who is a person who writes the drama, called the dramatist or the script writer, who began to write plays to draw crowds and tell stories.

SUMMARY : In this way, the drama became public property, there was loss of didactic, and the profession of the theatre was established as a new way for people with talent to make a living.


· Mystery plays: originally from the bible, involved gods and angels. Difficult to understand and impossible to believe, they were great entertainment. However there were a lack of new ideas as scenes were originally from the bible. Audience got bored.

· Miracle plays : depicted life of saints, created a fear of god in the people, and also admiration for the priests. Soon the plays branched out to produce fantastical stories on topics other than god.

· Humour plays : the origin of humour plays came with the insertion of what is known as an interlude. Interludes were short scenes put up between two scenes of the main play to lighten the mood and to keep the audience in their seats while the actors got ready. These interludes were comical in nature and provided light relief. Comedy developed different faces, like tragicomedies etc.


In the beginning one corner of the church hall was the stage. This stage was on the same level as the rest of the ground, so naturally, only people close to the actors could see what was going on.

When the church became crowded, they erected a small platform so that people could see it at a distance. The actors had to shout to make their voice heard as there was a lack of loudspeaker equipment.

Slowly the troupe started improving the stage by providing curtains, interludes etc. and this setup with backgrounds gradually developed into our modern theatres.


Earlier, the actors had to describe surroundings, as there were no stage props or background. Thus actors had to memorize lengthy dialogues. Soon, they developed background, props, using such things as signboards etc. to indicate the geographical locations or kind of places the drama was taking place in.

Last edited by Vignesh on Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:47 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Spelling mistake)
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PostSubject: Language of the drama   Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:38 pm


Originally the drama was written In the form of poetry, as rhyming verses were easier for the actors to memorize and present. Earlier, literature was mainly in the form of poetry, it was considered to be the highest and most difficult form of the written art. Therefore poetry was easily adapted as the language of the drama, first by the priests and then by the populace at large.

Music was introduced into the drama to portray the emotions of actors, thus to give them a break in dialogue and to set the mood for the scene.

Music was also used to indicate a change in the tempo or mood of the play.

English as a language was formally recognized in the drama mostly because of the influence of Shakespeare the great poet and playwright of the fourteenth century. He introduced more prose in his drama.

Last edited by Arjun on Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:37 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : grammar mistake)
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