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Saturday, 18 October 2014


The genres of literature are the various divisions in which literature could be categorised. They are:drama, prose and poetry.

Drama is, otherwise, referred to as play. It is a written work to be performed on theatre, television or radio. In drama, the events in the story are not just narrated but acted on stage by casts, which involves actions. This genre makes use of dialogues between one cast and another or group of cast. Dialogue distinguishes drama from the other genres. Drama is also divided into acts and scenes. It requires the active participation of the audience.

A theatre has to do with an arena, structure or even an open air or space, as in the early times, where drama is performed and viewed. A theatre of fact is that theatre that focuses on real happenings, whiletheatre of the absurd centres on exaggerated situations as a reaction to the tragedy and irrationality of human beings. When there is intention to induce in the audience a feeling of suffering and an awareness of the presence of evil, then we have theatre of cruelty.  On the other hand, a small theatre for experimental plays and other plays not likely to be a great commercial success is known as little theatre. A theatre of epic drama is also labeled anepic theatre, while a coup de theatre is a play with a sudden and sensational turn. A theatre goer is someone who habitually goes to the theatre.

Forms of drama

·        Comedy:This form of drama is funny. Hence, it is meant to arouse laughter and ends on a happy note.It is the opposite of tragedy. E.g. The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka, The blinkards by Kobina Sekyi.

A comedian is a male entertainer who makes people laugh by cracking jokes or telling funny stories, while his female counterpart is known as Comedienne. A comedietta is a short comic piece. A Comedy of Manners is a piece of work that mocks the behavior and fashions of a particular group of people by making them look funny and foolish. A comedy of farcical situation is known as a Low comedy, while Situation Comedy on the other hand is a humorous play that appears in the media such as radio, television, which is usually presented in an episodic form. Black Comedy is about dreadful events, using fantasy and strange humour to x-ray the world of reality. A Musical Comedy is a light entertainment accompanied by sentimental songs.

·        Tragedy:This is the opposite of comedy. Tragedy has an elevated diction, whose atmosphere is usually serious and tense with an unhappy ending. In this genre, the hero is a target of disaster due to his weakness, referred to as tragic flaws, or hubris, which are beyond his control. A hero who suffers such calamity or death is referred to as a tragic hero. Examples of tragedy are: The gods are not to Blame by Ola Rotimi, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi by Ngugi Wa Thiongo,Women of Owu by Femi Osofisan, Macbeth by Williams Shakespeare.

Some tragedies are called Historical tragedy. Historical events are events that took place especially in the past and when adopted as a play, it becomes a historical tragedy.

·        Tragicomedy:It is a play which contains the basic attributes of tragedy and those of comedy and often ends on a happy note.

·        Farce: This is a comical drama in which both the characters and events shown are fantastic and deserved to be laughed at. It is an absurd comic play.

·        Melodrama: this is an exaggerated form of drama. This form of drama is sensational and excites the audience.

·        Monodrama (Monologue): It is a dramatic piece rendered by one actor.

·        History play: It is a play based on historical records. It is also known as a chronicle play.

·        Mime/Pantomime/Dumb show: This is a theatrical performance in which expression of action, character, or emotion is by gesture and movement and without words. It is a play without dialogue. A mime performer is called a mime actor.

·        Realistic drama: In presentation and content, this type of drama tries to protect the false composition of everyday life.

·        Closet drama: This is a literary composition which takes the form of a play, but is not meant to be performed on stage. It is meant to be studied privately in a closet.

·        Opera: This form of drama is essentially made up of songs. All actions are musical in an opera. Hence, opera is a musical play in which all of the words are sung.

Features of drama

·       Acts and scenes:The division of a play.
·       Cast:It is the list of actors and actresses in play, otherwise known as Dramatis personae.
·       Character(s): The people portrayed in a play are the characters. The personality or image of a character is assessed through what he says and does, and what other characters say about him. A major character is the main person in a play.
·       Playwright: Someone who writes a piece of drama or play.
·       Dialogue: A conversation between two or more characters in the play.
·       Protagonist: It is the main or most important character in a play, often referred to as hero or heroine.
·       Antagonist: This is the character in a play that opposes the protagonist. His values or behavior is in conflict with that of the hero.
·       Dramatist: He or she writes or directs plays, including the plays of other playwrights.
·       Audience: It is the name given to a collection of people watching the performance of a play on stage.
·       Suspense: It is a state of curiousity in which the readers want to know more as to how an event is likely to unfold. Suspense keeps the reader interested and raises his or her anxiety and keeping him or her guessing what will happen next.
·       Conflict: It is the struggle between two opposing forces that shapes the plot of the story.
·       Soliloquy: It is a device in drama which allows a character to engage in a loud self-talk for the audience to have access to what is in his or her mind. At such times, the character reveals certain parts of his character which the audience otherwise would not know.
·       Aside: This is a situation in which a character turns away from other characters on the stage to address the audience. It is assumed that such a speech is not heard by other characters on stage. An aside enables the audience to know what goes on a character’s mind which he or she does not want other characters to know.
·       Chorus:A group of actors, who appear, sing and prepare the audience for what is yet to happen. The chorus gives a detail story of events in the play and their effect on the fall of the tragic hero.
·       Coryphaeus: A coryphaeus is a leader of a chorus.
·       Prologue: It is the introductory speech to a dramatic performance before the main actions begin.
·       Epilogue: It is the closing remark at the end of a dramatic performance to bring the actions to an end. It is the opposite of prologue.
·       Deus ex machine: This word is derived from Greek meaning, “gods from the machine”. It is an artificial dramatic device in resolving a complicated plot. An actor representing a godis suspended above the stage in ancient Greek theatre, which brought about the denouement of the play by their intervention.
·       Climax: This is the highest point of emotion in a play. It is the peak of mounting tension in an unfolding action. The climax is the result of the crisis. It is the point at which the outcome of the conflict can be predicted.
·        Foreshadowing: An author’s use of hints or clues to suggest events that will occur later in the story. Not all foreshadowing is obvious. Frequently, future events are merely hinted at through dialogue, description, or the attitudes and reactions of the characters.

Foreshadowing frequently serves two purposes. It builds suspense by raising questions that encourage the reader to go on and find out more about the event that is being foreshadowed. Foreshadowing is also a means of making a narrative more believable by partially preparing the reader for events which are to follow.
·        Flashback: This is when a scene or event from the past appears in a narrative to fill in information or explain something in the present. It is the interruption of the chronological (time) order to present something that occurred before the beginning of the story.
·        Catharsis:This refers to the purgation of emotion. It is the feeling by an audience in a tragic drama of an emotional release, through the evocation of intense fears and pity that may lead to the shedding of tears.For catharsis to occur there must be a suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience.
·        Peripety: This term refers to the sudden reversal in a major character’s fortunes, and the beginning of such a character’s tragic fall.
·         Tragic flaw:It is the single characteristic (usually negative), weakness (flaw), pride (hubris) or personality disorder which causes the downfall of the protagonist. For example, Othello’s tragic flaw is his jealousy, which consumes him so thoroughly that he is driven to murder his wife, Desdemona, rather than accept, let alone confirm, her infidelity.
·        Tragic hero/character:A tragic hero or character is the protagonist who comes to a bad end as a result of his own behavior, usually caused by a specific personality disorder or character flaw.
·        Comic relief: It is a brief period of laughter or amusement in a tragic play. It is usually introduced to reduce the tension already created by certain events and situations in the play.
·       Anti-hero:It is a central character in a play who lacks the qualities expected of the hero of the regular Aristotelian drama.
·       Prompter:This refers to “the-actor-off-the-stage” whose role is to assist the actual actors in carrying out their assigned performance roles.
·       Audition: This refers to a theatre practice in which the characters of a play are selected to play specific assigned roles in the performance.
·       Clown:Also known as a Jester, a clown is character that makes people laugh by his jokes and actions. He is normally a tricky character.
·       Court fool:A jester formally kept at court for amusement could also form part of the cast.
·       Scenery:It is the backdrop paintings on theatrical slides, hangings, furnishings, painted canvas etc. used on the stage of a theatre.
·       Episode: Also called Scene, it is an incident or an event in a chain of events by independent plots loosely linked together.
·       Green room: The rooms where actors retire after their performance, which originally had the walls coloured green.  
·       Eponym: This is a character that gives a play its title and, at times, fashioned as a hero to account for the name of people/place.
·       Premiere:She is a leading actress in a play.
·       Villain:This is the main enemy of the hero. A villain is an evil or devilish character who harms others.
·       Epic Hero:This is the character in whom the fate of a community depends.
·       Pathos/ Batho:When a work of art, especially drama, shows emotion and fear, some elements of Pathos have taken place in the minds of the audience.
·       Amphitheatre:These are rows of seats similarly arranged in a half circle in theatre.
·       Stage:It is a raised platform where plays are being performed.
·       Costumes:The clothes or wears which the characters put on while on the stage.

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