Play (theatre)

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A children's play depicting The Nativity

A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, to Community theatre, as well a University or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written works of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.[1]

Genres[edit]

Symbol of theatre

Comedy[edit]

Comedies are plays which are designed to be humorous. Comedies are often filled with witty remarks, unusual characters, and strange circumstances. Certain comedies are geared toward different age groups. Comedies were one of the two original play types of Ancient Greece, along with tragedies. An example of a comedy would be William Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream," or for a more modern example the skits from "Saturday Night Live".[2][3]

Farce[edit]

A generally nonsensical genre of play, farces are often overacted and often involve slapstick humour. An example of a farce includes William Shakespeare's play "The Comedy of Errors", or Mark Twain's play "Is He Dead?"

Satirical[edit]

A satire play takes a comic look at current events people while at the same time attempting to make a political or social statement, for example pointing out corruption. An example of a satire would be Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector and Aristophanes' Lysistrata.

Tragedy[edit]

These plays contain darker themes such as death and disaster. Often the protagonist of the play has a tragic flaw, a trait which leads to their downfall. Tragic plays convey all emotions, and have extremely dramatic conflicts. Tragedy was one of the two original play types of Ancient Greece. Some examples of tragedies include William Shakespeare's Hamlet, and also John Webster's play The Duchess of Malfi.[2]

Historical[edit]

These plays focus on actual historical events. They can be tragedies or comedies, but are often neither of these. History as a separate genre was popularized by William Shakespeare. Examples of historical plays include Friedrich Schiller's Demetrius and William Shakespeare's King John.[4]

Terminology[edit]

The term "play" can be either a general term, or more specifically refer to a non-musical play. Sometimes the term "straight play" is used in contrast to "musical", which refers to a play based on music, dance, and songs sung by the play's characters. For a short play, the term "playlet" is sometimes used.

See also[edit]

Lists[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Play": Dictionary.com website. Retrieved on January 3, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "THE ANCIENT GREEK DRAMA & THEATRE HISTORY PAGE". anarchon.tripod.com. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  3. ^ "Origin of Comedy". www.theatrehistory.com. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  4. ^ The Three Richards: Richard I ... - Google Book Search. books.google.co.uk. 2006. ISBN 978-1-85285-521-5. Retrieved 2008-06-17.