Dramatic Genres

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What are the key differences between modern drama and contemporary drama, besides the years they were written?  

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Modern drama refers to artistic works such as plays that were written and based on the current events in the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the key concepts of modern drama was realism. Realism focuses on dealing with real life problems in realistic ways. This was frequently used as a method of bringing about reforms in society. Drama at this time was more about ideas than action. Politics and romanticism were also popular topics of this time.

Contemporary drama refers to the drama that we see today. This form of drama is more action focused. Although modern drama also used theatrics as entertainment, contemporary drama gears more towards excitement and theatrics on a larger scale. Contemporary drama also provides more insight opposed to direct realistic life problems and situations. They tend to allude more to current problems in society than come right out zoom in on it.

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Modernism, slightly misnamed, refers to the changes in dramatic situations after the classical and Victorian periods; it dramatized everyday people rather than high-station people like kings and queens. Instead, it dealt with the domestic dramas – see Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg.  While this switch seems quite natural to us, it was revolutionary at the time (late 19th-early 20th century).  Contemporary, on the other hand, refers to the dramas of our time, and especially the movements away from realism, such as surrealism, expressionism, and the Absurd, but also those dramas dealing with current social problems: AIDS, nuclear war, etc.  The terms, while similar on the surface, dictionary-definition level, really signify different dramatic styles and subjects.

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