Why can't all dramas be played


Along with poetry and epic poetry, drama is one of the three great genres of literature. It is also called acting poetry or stage poetry. The literary product is called drama. It is the generic term for all types of stage plays such as comedy, tragedy or drama.

What is a drama?

A drama is traditionally designed to be performed on a stage. The action is presented as a drama by the people involved. A dramatic, i.e. exciting and tense ending is common. Depending on the type of conflict, a drama can be tragic, funny or even absurd.

Drama - origin of the term

The term drama is derived from the Greek drama = Action, happening. So drama is acting poetry.

The four hallmarks of dramatic poetry

1. Fiction and simulation:

A fiction is something that only exists in the imagination. If you only read a dramatic text and don't see the action on stage, then it is a fictional text. The reader has to imagine the invented reality as something actually given.

A simulation, on the other hand, is a reproduction and pretense of facts and processes. When a drama is performed on stage, fiction turns into simulation. The action can now be physically experienced. While there are no limits to the reader's imagination in fiction, the simulation must move within the framework of representability.

2. Speaking situation:

The speaking situation describes the context and the prerequisites for verbal utterances. The speaking situation is determined by place and time, occasion, intention, the role of the speaker and the role of the addressee. The speaking situation thus relates to the circumstances under which something is said and not to what is said itself.

Unlike epic texts (fairy tales, novels, short stories, ...), dramatic texts have no narrator. As a result, the speaking situation for the reader or viewer usually only results from what is said. This means that the viewer or reader must deduce the place, time, occasion, intention, etc. from the utterances of the characters.

3. Figure speech:

Since there is no narrator in the drama who could describe the situations, milieus and personal backgrounds of the characters, all the necessary details must be derived from the character speech, i.e. the spoken word of the characters in the drama. The character speech has two essential communicative tasks in a drama: First, it has to explain the world of the characters so that the events on the stage make sense for the reader or viewer; second, the action of the drama must be stimulated and advanced through the characters' speech.

4. Diversity of characters:

There are details that cannot be conveyed in the drama by the linguistic signals of the character speech alone. Various extra-linguistic signals and symbols are used here. A distinction is made between acoustic (audible) and optical (visible) signals.

Performers' acoustic cues include language, accent, manner of speaking, style, speed of speech, pitch, voice guidance, and volume.

Acoustic signs that are not used by the actors themselves but by the stage are noises, music or a voice from the off (off is the invisible area or the background of a stage).

Optical signs of the actors are the stature, physiognomy (appearance and expression of the actor, especially the face), facial expressions (gestures and facial expressions), gestures (totality of gestures), movement, mask (make-up, beard, wig) and costume (disguise ).

Optical signs on the stage are the set design, structures, decorations, props, lighting, but also banners and projections.

Features of the Greek drama

Unity (the three units):

Closed action: The action is consistent, i.e. consistent and in accordance with logic.

Unit of time: the action takes place within a day.

Unity of place: There is no change of place within the action.

Structure of the Aristotelian drama:

  1. Prehistory and elaboration of the conflict.
  2. Linking: Ascending action.
  3. Peripetia: climax.
  4. Solution: falling offense.
  5. Change from ignorance to knowledge.

Building a closed drama

A dramatic text is called a closed drama if it follows the following structure. According to the five-part structure, many closed dramas also have five acts.

Initiation (exposure): Information about the background and prerequisites of the action.

Exciting moment: An important event or decision made by the hero. The exciting moment sets the entanglement in motion.

Reversal (peripetia): Crucial turning point. The situation is reversed.

Tragic moment: In a tragedy, i.e. a drama with a tragic outcome, it becomes clear here that the conflict can no longer be resolved. A conciliatory end is no longer possible.

Moment of the last tension: In a comedy, the happy ending of the plot is delayed here.

catastrophe: In a tragedy, catastrophe means the hero's downfall; this tragically resolves the conflict. In a comedy, the misunderstandings are resolved, which leads to a happy ending.

Certain sections of a drama

  • Antistrophe: A choral song in ancient Greek drama.
  • Elevator: A self-contained section of a drama.
  • Epilogue: The aftermath in a drama.
  • Exposition: introduction of a drama; Presentation of people and backgrounds.
  • Intermezzo: An interlude in a drama.
  • Catastrophe: The final plot of a drama with a decisive twist.
  • Crowd scene: A scene in which a large number of people appear.
  • Moment: The moment is the scene in the drama that leads to the climax of the conflict or deliberately delays the course of action in order to increase the tension.
  • Monologue: A self-talk.
  • Peripetie: The decisive turning point or turning point in a drama.
  • Retarding moment: A scene that retards the action.

Certain types of dramas

  • Absurd Drama: The absurd drama is a modern form of drama.
  • Dramolet: A short drama, also called mini-drama or microdrama.
  • Historical Drama: A historical drama.
  • Comedy: A comedy; a drama with a happy ending.
  • Miracle Game: A medieval, spiritual drama about the miracles of the Virgin Mary and the saints.
  • Morality: A medieval drama with an didactic character in which concepts such as life, death, virtue and vice are represented as persons.
  • Mystery play: A medieval, spiritual drama.
  • Knight drama: A drama with a knight as the main character.
  • Moral novel or piece of morality: A drama that critically depicts the customs of an era.
  • Tragic Comedy: A drama with comic and tragic elements.
  • Tragedy: tragedy; a drama with a tragic outcome, usually the death of the hero.
  • Verse Drama: A drama written in verse.

People in a drama

  • Antihero: In contrast to the active hero character of a drama, the antihero is a passive or negative main character.
  • Dramatis Personae: The people who appear in a drama.
  • Hero: The main character of a drama.
  • Luminary: The choir leader in ancient drama.
  • Protagonist: The first actor in ancient drama; generally this is the name given to the main character.
  • Tritagonist: The third actor in the ancient Greek drama.

Further technical terms

  • Staging: The preparation, design and management of the performance of a drama.
  • Dramaturgy: The processing and design of a drama; it is also used to designate the doctrine of drama.


Synonyms to use in place of the word drama when writing summaries, interpretations, and text analysis (this makes for a varied style):

  • Stage seal
  • Stage play
  • Stage work
  • dramatic work
  • play
  • Play
  • plant

English terms

The following are some English terms that could be helpful when writing plot summaries, interpretations or textual analyzes:

  • drama
  • dramatization
  • piece
  • play
  • show
  • theatrical work

Synopsis of dramas

The usual rules apply to the table of contents of a drama.
You can find numerous summaries of dramas on Synopsis.de.

Page published on 02/26/2010. Last update on April 22nd, 2021.
Text by Heike Münnich. © Inhalt.de.