What are the different types of traditional drama?  

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Setting aside the categories of historical theatre and drama based on historical periods, such as Elizabethan, Restoration, Victorian, etc., we start with Aristotle’s division of drama into tragedy and comedy. Then there were expressionistic, impressionistic, surrealistic, etc. drama. Today, let us say since Modernism, drama divides itself into more subtle categories (mostly via advertising, publicity, reviews, etc.) – the term “drama” refers to serious, sober, intense story-telling with strong characters resolving real social and psychological conflicts. Comedy now refers to humorous laugh-filled story-telling with little serious conflict or danger to the protagonist, attended for immediate entertainment rather than insightful observation about human nature. It is further divided into such subtler types as farce (broad humorous commentary on human imperfections), slapstick (physical humor), sentimental (maudlin actions designed to bring the audience into humorous rapport with a slightly troubled protagonist), romantic (love “bumps in the road”), and the like. Post-modern drama features experimental stage language (settings, non-realistic situations, non-real actions, etc.) whose themes are often philosophical, and which make use of a two-act structure rather than the traditional beginning-middle-end structure of the three-act play. Then there are such “types” as musicals (where songs are inserted into the story),, extravaganzas (featuring unusual and difficult stage business, in which the audience delight comes from the large stage action), etc.; of course, this is only one way to taxonomize this complex and varied art.

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