Popular Theatre Genres

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We have written quite a few pieces on different theatrical genres, this time we decided to give you a more general, a broader perspective. In this text we are going to review some of the top theatrical genres of all times. We won’t get into too much detail though, just the basics. You’d be surprised to see how many things are related and to theatre and drama. Even areas you never would’ve guessed have anything to do with drama. For instance, online slots and online casinos in general include a lot of dramatic elements. 

Some Popular Genres

If we are to make a list of all genres, we would be able to name over 100 different genres, but we’ll only go with the major few here.

Modernist Drama

It would make sense for the term modern drama to include only contemporary plays and theatre styles, but that isn’t the case, the phrase modernist drama describes several different styles that were developed from the half of the 19th century onwards.

It usually considered that modernism began with the works of Emile Zola. Strindberg, Hauptmann and Ibsen are also considered to be among the pioneers of the genre. The first modernist style plays were acted in France, but they soon spread throughout Europe and North America.

There was a lot of variety when it came to different plays and different play styles, with one underlying principle – all modernist plays challenged the rules of old classic theatre.

Modernist theatre was often referred to by the name independent theatre movement and since the WWI it has been an integral part of the overall theatre scene in the Western world. Some claim that anti-realism is the first and most important feature of modernist theatre.

Historical Drama

Historical drama is perhaps the first genre of theatre, or it is at least as old as theatre itself. Aeschylus describe the events of the first Greco Persian War in his drama The Persians from year 472 BC.

The main point in every history play is that it describes historical events that happened a while before the play was written or set. There are no guidelines in terms of time distance regarding the period described in the play and the actual events, but at least several years need to pass for the event to be historic and not contemporary.

The term history play to describe this genre has been used for quite a while, in fact, the editors of the folio containing Shakespeare’s dramas divided them into comedies, tragedies and histories. The word chronicle was used to describe a play where the events take place in a temporal order.

There have been a wide range of history plays, in fact, all important and popular British monarchs have been immortalised in a play.

Other Genres

The above two might be the most popular and most renowned genres, but they definitely aren’t the only two genres, parody, political theatre, postmodern theatre, revenge tragedy, kitchen sink drama, musical theatre and a lot more.


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