Drama and Theatre



  1. Origin of Drama and Theatre
  2. Introduction to Drama and Theatre
  3. Definitions of Drama
  4. Definitions/Meaning of Theatre
  5. People Involved in Drama
  6. Elements of Drama


Origin of Drama and Theatre (Mimesis, Ritual and Storytelling)

The origins of theatre have been traced to myth and rituals found in dances and mimed performances by masked dancers during fertility rites and other ceremonies that marked important passages in life.

Early societies acted out patterns of life, death, and rebirth associated with the welfare of village tribes. Imitation, costumes, masks, makeup, gesture, dance, music, and pantomime were some of the theatrical elements found in early rituals.

At some unrecorded time, these ceremonies and rituals became formalized in dramatic festivals and spread from Greece to the western world and from India to the eastern world.

Some scholars claim that it may have originated from African primitive folklore, traditional customs, tales or saying, preserved orally among a people.

There are scholars who are of the view that it originated from the worship of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility and creation in ancient Greek. The theory of the scholars who posit that dramatic art began in Africa states that it might have originated from moonlight stories told around bonfire. Another origin from Africa is that it started as a result of the rites and sacrifices carried out by priests in propitiation of different gods in Africa

Introduction to Drama and Theatre

The word drama is derived from “dram”, a Greek word which means “to do”. It is one of the ways through which man expresses his view about the society either positively or negatively.

The word “theatre” is derived from the Greek word “theatron” which means the viewing place or seeing place.

Definitions of Drama

(i) Drama simply means a serious play written for actors or actresses to act and perform on a stage.

(ii) It is a genre of literature usually written to be performed.

(iii) According to Aristotle, drama is the imitation of a person or persons in action.

(iv) Drama is play from a story about important events in the lives of characters (people).

(v) Drama is a ‘reproduction’ or ‘reflection’ of life;

(vi) Drama is an enactment of real and imagined events through actions and dramatic competences.

(vii) Drama is imitating and impersonating people and situation.

(viii) Drama is a story acted, the story may be real or fictitious; drama can be scripted or non-scripted.

Definitions/Meaning of Theatre

(i) A theatre is a specially prepared place where plays are performed by actors and actresses for audience to be entertain.

(ii) A theatre is a place which houses a stage where actors perform in an auditorium where the audience or patrons or the public are seated.

(iii) Theatre is one of the oldest and most popular forms of entertainment in which actors perform live for an audience on a stage or in any other space designated for the performance.

(iv) A theatre is permanent or temporary space set aside for performances.

(v) A theatre is a building, room or other setting where plays or other dramatic presentations are performed.

People Involved in Drama

The people involved in a drama/theatre are:

  1. cast (actors/actresses)
  2. crew and
  3. the audience.

The actors and actresses are the performers in plays, movies or television. They are heroes and heroines of any play.

The crew refers to a group of people who help in the making of a successful drama behind the scene, while the audience generally means the people who came for entertainment.


  1. Define the term “drama” in your own word.
  2. Give three (3) definitions of “theatre”.
  3. Mention the people who are involved in the making of a drama.
  4. Explain the term” drama” from what you have been taught.
  5. What is theatre?


Elements of Drama

The elements of drama are units that make up dramatic actions. These elements include:

  1. plot,
  2. character,
  3. thought,
  4. diction,
  5. music and
  6. spectacle.


This simply means the step by step arrangement of events in a story. In a plot or plan of a story, there is a beginning, middle and an end; one thing leads to the other until a resolution is reached. There are however different types of plot such as simple, complex and compound.


A character is he who makes things happen and there could be more than one character in a story. They reveal the plot to the people.

According to Aristotle, there are four qualities of a character. These are:

  1. The character must be good.
  2. The character must show propriety.
  3. The character must be true to life.
  4. A character must be consistent.

There are two types of characters in acting, the round character and the flat character. A round character shows all aspects of human life. He is unique and able to change in any situation. A flat character shows only one aspect of human life.


This means the theme of the play or subject matter. To know the theme of a story, we must ask what its major purpose is or what it reveals about life.


This refers to the writer’s choice of words. It is the language of the play’s characters when the actors speak.


It refers to the sound effects and tonal pattern of speech. (the tonal sound effects include pitch, rate, rhythm, volume, enunciation, articulation etc.) the combined effects of these can give the play an added beauty.


This is the visual aspect of a production. It includes: the design i.e. stage design, costume, make-up, lighting, scenery, movement of actors, etc. spectacle helps to give information about the play and improves the beauty of the play.



  1. Mention five elements of drama.
  2. Explain two elements of drama.
  3. What is a plot?
  4. Name three types of plots.
  5. Who is a character? List two qualities of a character.



  1. Instructive Functions
  2. Educative Functions
  3. Informative Functions
  4. Entertainment Functions
  5. Therapeutic Functions


The roles of drama ranges from instructive, educative, informative, entertaining, therapeutic, social and cultural to religious and political experiences.

Instructive Functions

  1. It enables us to learn about ourselves, our society and about life in general.
  2. It teaches us to reflect on life’s actions and experiences
  3. It exposes life’s actions and experiences through performances on stage.
  4. It encourages us to choose the good and discard the bad aspects of life.

Educative Functions

  1. It teaches tolerance among people i.e. people learn to accept each other.
  2. It teaches co-operation among people .
  3. It inculcates in people the ability to express themselves.
  4. It serves as a guide against future occurrence of bad behavior in the society and thus encourages good character.

Informative Functions

  1. It is a means of enlightening the people on the social and moral value of the society.
  2. It gives important information about the society from the past to the present.
  3. It highlights the consequences of social vices such as drug abuse, cultism, examination malpractice, tribalism, corruption (419), fighting, stealing, raping, kidnapping, indecent dressing, impersonation, armed-robbery, bribery, favouritism, child abuse, etc.

Entertainment Functions

  1. People derive pleasure and their feelings are aroused when they watch drama.
  2. It helps in creating fun and relaxation.

Therapeutic Functions

  1. Drama is a source of relaxation for people. When people watch drama, they tend to forget their past ugly experiences for the moment. This will relax their nerves.
  2. It helps to build and develop confidence in people.
  3. It encourages self-realization.
  4. It heals broken emotions

Another function of drama is the ability to create jobs. That is, it is a means of creating job opportunities in the society.

More so, drama is used to as a means of reaching vast audience for the purpose of publicity, propaganda and protest against bad governments and evils in the society.



  1. Mention the five main functions of drama.
  2. List three functions of instructive functions of drama.
  3. List three functions of educative functions of drama




  1. Types of Drama
  2. Forms of Drama
  3. The Director
  4. Duties of the Play Directors


Types of Drama

There are two basic types of drama namely:

  1. Scripted
  2. Non-scripted.

Scripted drama means a written play while non-scripted means an unwritten play.

Forms of Drama

  1. Comedy
  2. Tragedy
  3. Mask Drama
  4. Dance Drama
  5. Musical Drama (Opera)
  6. Dramatized Drama
  7. Mime


This is a drama that is funny and humorous. Examples are “the new Masquerade”, Papa Ajasco” and “osofia in london” .


This is the opposite of comedy. This is a serious drama (play) with a sad theme. It involves a heroic struggle that ends sadly. Good examples are: dramatized versions of ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe and “The gods are not to blame” by Ola Rotimi.

Mask Drama

This refers to a drama where all the actors and actresses perform in masking tradition. Example is “the lion king’, a popular cartoon series which is the theatre version of the work.

Dance Drama

Refer to a drama in which the actors and actresses perform or convey their messages in a dancing manner.

Dramatized Folktales

This refers to folktales (stories from old traditional people) being dramatized so as to convey messages to the society. Some examples of folktales which are dramatized are lullabic songs for babies to sleep. An example in Igbo: “Nwanta rah ura, rah aura kannegilota….” (Baby sleep, sleep your mother will soon come back.)


Omo mi, ma sunkun mo

Se bi mo ti be o leekan

Se be mi ni mama re

Omo mi ma sunkun mo. (My child weep no more, mother beg you, weep no more.)

Musical Drama (Opera)

Refers to the use of musical songs to dramatize activities or events or situations. Sometimes, instruments accompany the singing.


Refers to the use of gestures and actions to perform. It is a style of performance in which people act out situations or portray characters using only gestures, facial expressions and actions.

The Director

The director is basically the chief designer of dramatic performances. The director must concern himself with the following:

  1. The length of the play
  2. The message in the play
  3. The actor’s understanding of the play and
  4. His own understanding of the play.

Duties of the Play Directors

  1. He is the boss of the theatre.
  2. He coordinates all the other aspects of production.
  3. He casts and rehearses the actors by blocking and guiding their movements.
  4. He interprets the scripts and put a life drama on stage.
  5. He coordinates the work and art of every other person and makes everything blend for the production.
  6. He is responsible for the production seen on stage, etc.


  1. Name all the forms of drama
  2. List the two basic type of drama.
  3. Identify five elements of drama
  4. Explain two basic types of drama.
  5. Explain scripted and non-scripted drama.
  6. Imitate the principal of your school when he is angry.
  7. Describe a politician/educator you know by imitation (i.e imitate the person).



  1. Meaning of Costumes
  2. Meaning of Make-up
  3. Basic Types of Make-up
  4. Uses of Make-up and Costume in Drama
  5. Making Up in Drama


Meaning of Costumes

Costumes are clothes and accessories e.g. cap, jewelry, beads necklaces, shoes and bags etc. worn by actors and actresses in a drama presentation.

Meaning of Make-up

It is the colorful substance e.g. powder/paints used especially by women to make their faces look more attractive.

Costume involves clothing and accessories while make-up involves all that is done to the body.

Types of Make-up

(i) Straight/foundation make up

(ii) Stage/character make up)

Straight/foundation Make-up

This is the make-up used to enhance beauty e.g. if a young girl is acting the role of a young girl, make-up will be used on her to enhance her beauty.

Stage/character Make-up

It is used to alter features. It is used for the alteration of features. For instance, if a boy of 18 is acting the role of a man of forty, make-ups will be used to make him look older.

Uses of Make-up and Costume in Drama

  1. It is for identification.
  2. It helps the audience for easy understanding of the play.
  3. It helps in easy interpretation of the play and its location.
  4. The rich and the poor i.e. social and economic status of the characters are easily identified.
  5. It helps in identifying the occupation or profession of the character.
  6. Costume gives weight and extra meaning to a drama.

Making Up in Drama

  1. It is under the technical aspect of drama.
  2. It requires the services of an experts.
  3. Human autonomy must be studied by the make-up artists.


  1. Define costumes.
  2. State three uses of costume.
  3. Define make-up?



  1. Meaning of Dramatist/Playwright
  2. Categories of Dramatists/Playwright


Meaning of Dramatist/Playwright

Dramatists/playwrights are the people that write plays. They are writers of plays/drama for stage, television, or radio presentation.

Categories of Dramatists/Playwright

The three (3) categories Dramatists namely:

  1. Classical/universal dramatists.
  2. Modern dramatists.
  3. Contemporary dramatists.

Classical or Universal Dramatists

These are the ancient Greek Dramatists. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes and Euripides are the founding fathers of drama as we know it today.

Their established form of drama is the authority that is still followed.

The dramas were mostly tragedy and comedy, although, a lot of myth and history was also covered. Tragedy means drama ending unhappily or sadly.


(525 – 456BC), Greek dramatist, the earliest of the Greek tragic poets of Athens. As the predecessor of Sophocles and Euripides, he is called the father of Greek tragedy. Aeschylus is said to have written about 90plays. But only80 of these

Plays is known.Aeschylus is called the father of Greek tragedies. One of his specialties was trilogies, or group of three plays, usually bound together by a common theme.

Life History of Aeschylus
  1. He was born in Eleusis, near Athens.
  2. His father was a member of the Athenian nobility.
  3. He fought successfully against the Persian Armies at the battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
  4. He also fought in 480Bc at the battle of Salamis
  5. He died at Gela.


(496 -406 BC), Athenian dramatist, ranking with Aeschylus and Euripides as one of the three great tragic dramatists of Ancient Greece. His best known plays are Antigone and Oedipus Rex (Oedipus Tyrannus in Greek.).

Life History of Sophocles
  1. He was born in ColonusHippius (now part of Athens),
  2. He was the son of Sophillus a wealthy Armour maker.
  3. Provided with the best traditional Aristocratic education
  4. He led a chorus of youths who celebrated the Greek naval victory over the Persians at Salamis in 480Bc.
  5. In 468BC at the age of 28, he defeated Aeschylus, whose pre-eminence as a tragic poet had long been undisputed, in a dramatic competition.
  6. He was the most consistently successful Athenian Dramatist, winning first prize about 20 times.
  7. He wrote more than 120 plays.


(448 – 385 BC) He is an Athenian playwright. Aristophanes was considered one of the greatest writers of comedy. His plays have remain popular because of their wit, comic invention and poetic language.comedies during the Greek period meant happy endings in their drama.

  1. He had three Sons: Philippos, Araros, and Nikostrators all of whom were comic poets.
  2. He was first and foremost a Satirist.
  3. He wrote more than 40 plays.


(480 406 BC), Greek Dramatist, ranking with Aeschylus and Sophocles as one of the three great tragic poets of Ancient Greece. He wrote nearly 90 plays of which 18 survive today. Of all the ancient Greek dramatists, Euripides has been credited with his combination of tragedy and comedy. He writes tragicomedy plays.

Life History of Euripides
  1. He was born on the Island of Salami’s on September 23, in about 480BC.
  2. He was born on the day of a great Greek naval Victory over the Persians
  3. His parents belong to the nobility.
  4. Late in his life Euripides left Athens for Macedonia, where he died.

Modern Dramatists/Playwrights

Modern Dramatist so called not because of the period but because of the quality, acceptance and popularity of their works in modern times.

Examples are William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe in England, Pierre Corneille and J.P. Sartre in France etc

Shakespeare’s writing are the most popular of this category and below are some of his works:

  1. Romeo and Juliet – A story on romance.
  2. Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth – All three are historical accounts.
  3. The Winter’ Tale – A tragic comedy.

Aside Shakespeare which is the most popular of this category, J.W. von Goethe and Betroth Brecht in Germany, W.B. Yeasts in Ireland, T. S. Eliot in USA are popular modern dramatist.

Contemporary Dramatists

Those under this category include:

Wole Soyinka, Efua Sutherland, Zulu Sofola, J. P. Clark, Femi Osofisan, James EneHenshaw and Ola Rotimi, etc.

Wole Soyinka

Nigeria’s most honoured dramatist won the international Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.


  1. What is drama?
  2. Define dramatist/playwright.
  3. State the three categories of dramatists/playwrights.
  4. (i) State THREE Classical Dramatists. (ii) Give at least three dramatists in each of the categories of dramatist.
  5. Write a brief note on the following (i) Wole Soyinka (ii) Zulu Sofola (iii) Ola Rotimi.



  1. Definition and Meaning of Dance
  2. Uses of Dance
  3. Meaning of Choreography
  4. Principles of Choreography
  5. Meaning of Choreographer
  6. Meaning of Contemporary Dance
  7. Features of Contemporary Dance

Definition and Meaning of Dance

Dance is the rhythmic movement of the human body in space and time to make statements.

Uses of Dance

Dance is useful in the following ways:

  1. It is a means of communication.
  2. It is a medium of expression of oneself and idea.
  3. Many have made careers out of dance.
  4. It is an excellent confidence booster, especially for shy people.
  5. Ballet uses music and dance to tell stories.
  6. Dance therapy helps to improve the mental and physical well-being of a person.

Meaning of Choreography

Choreography is the art of composing or creating dances. It shows the movements and patterns of dance composition. It is the planning of movement for dancing. The steps and movement planned for a dance which may be written or improvised.

Principles of Choreography

All  choreography regardless of genre is based on the following  principles:

(i) Dynamics: This deals with how it moves, time (fast/slow), weight (strong/gentle), space (direct/indirect), flow (bound/free), tempo (rhythm).

(ii) Space: Where in space e.g. 3 level, person, upstage, stage right centre-stage, pathways, general stage left.

(iii) Relationship: What are the relationships? Near or far from other dancers, near or far from audience, solo, duet, trio, group, narrative, with/without/on/in beside a set, with/without music, costume, lighting, props, repeated.

(iv) Actions: Which actions are used e.g. jump, balance, fall, turnstillness, contact, lift, etc.

(v) Body parts: Head, eyes, hand, twisted, legs, arms, chest, face, etc.

(vi) Order

(vii) Beauty

Meaning of Choreographer

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