Drama ( δρᾶμα ancient Greek drama, action ') is a generic term for texts with different roles. The drama is next to epic and lyric one of the three basic literary genres.

Sometimes the term drama is very broad and includes all the plays, opera libretti, ballet scenarios, radio play manuscripts or screenplays with one, sometimes it is used as a restriction, such as for straight theater or just for the " upscale " ( or, conversely, for the particularly exciting or sentimental ) plays. Drama is theater with a textual basis, in contrast to the improvised impromptu theater.

The main characteristic of the drama according to Aristotle, is the representation of the action dialogs. Thus, it differs in ancient times from the narrative epic - since modern times, it therefore differs mainly from the novel. According to modern understanding dramas are written for it to be listed by an actor in the theater. Often they contain, therefore, in addition to the dialogue texts also include instructions for the actors, and since the 19th century for the director. The closet drama is a special form of drama that are not listed in the first place, but like a novel to be read.

The act of a drama is often in acts and these in turn are divided into scenes or performances. If there are more decorations per act, there is sometimes an additional classification in images. The classic French drama ( Racine, Corneille) is divided into five acts. The Italian, strongly connected with the opera tradition ( cf. Metastasio ) preferably three acts. The shape of the one-act play is the result of interludes between the acts of the three - to five-act dramas.


The European drama was at the time of Ancient Greece in the 5th century BC in Athens: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were the most important poets of the tragedy. Aristotle divided in the following century in his Poetics in the drama, the tragedy and the resulting later comedy. His theory of catharsis was groundbreaking for the European dramas of history.

The religious drama of the Middle Ages is neither tragedy nor comedy. Only since the Renaissance was an evolution of the ancient drama. For a long time the verse play the predominant genus. In recent times, predominates in the hands -free prose pieces. - The fact that a drama speaking, is not self-evident. The opera from about 1600 saw itself as a rebirth of classical Greek drama (see Florentine Camerata ).

While the Spanish and English drama to 1600 ( Lope de Vega, Shakespeare) were offshoots of a medieval theatrical tradition without a theoretical background, the French Classical remembered on ancient drama and put strict rules applicable ( doctrine classique, usually drama), for example, the so-called three Aristotelian units. Since then, dramas theories have an important social function by trying to establish norms or combat.

Since the 18th century, terms such as drama, comedy, tragicomedy, touching comedy, Civil tragedy with overlapping meanings in use. Since the 19th century, the melodrama that has particularly emotional or exciting activities, often shortened to the term drama.

Sometimes the drama of other theatrical genres are distinguished. Johann Wolfgang Goethe it bordered by the tragedy from ( the more modern drama is the " will", the older tragedy of " ought" requires), Gustav Freytag distinguished it from the spectacle (as a less high- genus ). Both tried with the term drama a "serious " to describe theater that was not a classic tragedy.

From the theory of the theater of the 20th century come subdivisions such as Social Drama, Drama Analytical or closed and open form in the drama. During this time, new media have led to new forms of drama, such as the radio play or film drama.

No dramatic text, but a method of therapy is the role play in psychodrama. In recent decades, many forms of theater have been established without dramatic text, which are also summarized under the term Post-dramatic theater. Conversely, the strict distinction between improvised and written dialogue prescribed by forms of role-playing on the Internet (chat) is softened.