Renaissance drama, centered in England, evolved out of the morality and mystery plays of the Medieval era. While these earlier plays attempted to teach a lesson and were often performed by monks or tradesmen, the Renaissance dramas moved toward entertainment. Renaissance drama developed around the 15th century and was at first often performed as short plays at court or in the homes of nobles. The playwrights of the era, such as Shakespeare and Marlowe, were not intellectuals and wrote to entertain rather than to instruct.
The subjects of Renaissance plays often included comedy, and some, such as Skelton's Magnyfycence (1515), also included political satire. The early plays of the era also included history and set the stage (literally) for the later history plays of Shakespeare and other playwrights. As the Reformation re-introduced European audiences to the Latin classics, much of the material of classical humanism was adapted into Renaissance drama. For example, Shakespeare included story lines from an English translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis in plays such as Midsummer Night's Dream (particularly the story of Pyramus and Thisbe). In addition, the traditional Latin structure of the five-act play was introduced into English drama. Roman writers such as Seneca influenced Renaissance playwrights to pen tragedies such as Hamlet that included elements such as ghosts and violence.