Drama: Stage and Screen

D Sikyon_ancient_theatre, Drama: Stage and ScreenBefore there was a written language, all of what we now regard as “literature” was shared and transmitted orally, and this may indicate the origin of the drama as a literary form. We can imagine pre-lingual “cavemen” sharing observations and experiences through a form of pantomime that their audiences could understand, appreciate and, more importantly, duplicate for later groups. The greater one’s skill in “performing” a story, the more likely it would be that the story itself would be preserved for use or enjoyment by subsequent generations.

As human civilizations developed and grew, some form of oral and dramatic tradition must necessarily have emerged to perpetuate each culture’s unique circumstances and interests. Rulers and group leaders of pre-literate societies would have needed a means of delivering their messages to larger and larger audiences with some measure of certainty that the same information was being received by all, and making use of dramatic performances would have been a sensible way to accomplish this.

D ChesterMysteryPlay_300dpi, Drama: Stage and ScreenCertainly, by the Middle Ages the early Catholic Church recognized the efficacy of popular stage performances in spreading information about the application of religious worship to the daily lives of believers and assuring the consistency or universality of that worship. By sponsoring “miracle” or “morality” plays, the Church could maintain its control over the practice of religion in lands geographically far removed from its own location. At the same time, secular powers were starting to access the drama for more propagandist, state purposes.

The drama was dominated by religious themes early in Christian and recorded history, but it was too effective a medium to be left the exclusive tool of the Church. For almost as long as there have been plays and other performance pieces, in fact, there have been playwrights seeking to entertain audiences with lighter themes and topics. For instance, in more ancient times, but after the development of written languages, drama was a widely popular form of mostly passive entertainment. Early Greek classics portrayed both mythical and historic military events to preserve the history or promote cultural D Movie_Theatre,_1917, Drama: Stage and Screenunity, but also presented stories with more of a social or emotional context. Examinations of universal human experiences and relationships grew in popularity and helped refine the drama to encompass two specific genres – comedy and tragedy – that continue to characterize almost all forms of drama to this day.

The Renaissance period in European history ushered in a “golden age” of drama and included some of the greatest plays and playwrights known to us today. The art of stage performance itself was developed to new heights of sophistication and complexity, storytelling and poetry were D Family_watching_television_1958, Drama: Stage and Screencombined in powerful new ways to enthrall audiences and, in some instances, encouraged audience participation in the actions taking place on stage. As the Church lost its previously exclusive and iron grip on society in general, dramatic artists were free to present entertainments covering every conceivable aspect of the human experience. In later years, this unlimited freedom of dramatic expression would result in state suppression of the drama as a “corrupting” moral force in society, but the popularity of plays was too deeply entrenched for any set of laws to remain in effect for long.

Early in the 20th century, the creation of motion pictures took the traditional drama farther than had ever been imagined before. Conventional stage plays remained popular mass entertainments but actual performances were often limited to urban areas. Populations living in more rural areas contented themselves with reading plays as published in books and journals until arcades and then cinemas started to appear in nearly every distant town and province. Popular access to drama was further expanded with the invention of the television in the mid-20th century and the proliferation of new entertainment and informational programming designed for the small screen.

The following authors in our database represent the Drama: Stage and Screen category of our collection:

AeschylusBook Icon (525 BC-455 BC) Kyd, ThomasBook Icon (1558-1594)
Akins, ZoeBook Icon (1886-1958) Lang, FritzBook Icon (1890-1976)
Albee, EdwardBook Icon (1928-2016) Lawrence, Jerome and Robert LeeBook Icon (1915-2004)
Allen, WoodyBook Icon (1935-) Lorca, FedericoBook Icon (1898-1936)
Altman, RobertBook Icon (1925-2006) Lubitsch, ErnstBook Icon (1892-1947)
Andersen, Hans ChristianBook Icon (1805-1875) Luhrmann, BazBook Icon (1962-)
Anderson, MaxwellBook Icon (1888-1959) Lumet, SidneyBook Icon (1924-2011)
Anonymous: Everyman-Morality PlayBook Icon (1509-1530) Lyly, JohnBook Icon (1554-1606)
Anonymous: Mankind-Medieval Morality PlaysBook Icon (1400) Lyne, AdrianBook Icon (1941-)
Anonymous: York Mystery PlaysBook Icon (1400) Mamet, DavidBook Icon (1947-)
AristophanesBook Icon (446 BC-386 BC) Marivaux, Pierre deBook Icon (1688-1763)
Auburn, DavidBook Icon (1970-) Marlowe, ChristopherBook Icon (1564-1593)
Axelrod, GeorgeBook Icon (1922-2003) Marshall, GarryBook Icon (1934-2016)
Baillie, JoannaBook Icon (1762-1851) Marston, JohnBook Icon (1576-1634)
Barry, PhilipBook Icon (1896-1949) Massinger, PhilipBook Icon (1583-1640)
Beaumont, FrancisBook Icon (1584-1616) Maugham, W. SomersetBook Icon (1874-1965)
Beckett, SamuelBook Icon (1906-1989) McNally, TerrenceBook Icon (1939-2020)
Behn, AphraBook Icon (1640-1689) Mendes, SamBook Icon (1965-)
Benigni, RobertoBook Icon (1952-) Middleton, ThomasBook Icon (1580-1627)
Bennett, AlanBook Icon (1934-) Miller, ArthurBook Icon (1915-2005)
Bolt, RobertBook Icon (1924-1995) Minghella, AnthonyBook Icon (1954-2008)
Boorman, JohnBook Icon (1933-) Moliere, Jean-BaptisteBook Icon (1622-1673)
Boucicault, DionBook Icon (1820-1890) More, HannahBook Icon (1745-1833)
Branagh, KennethBook Icon (1960-) Mowatt, Anna CoraBook Icon (1819-1870)
Brecht, BertoltBook Icon (1898-1956) Munday, AnthonyBook Icon (1560-1633)
Bulgakov, MikhailBook Icon (1891-1940) Murnau, F.W.Book Icon (1888-1931)
Chaplin, CharlesBook Icon (1889-1977) Nicholson, NormanBook Icon (1914-1987)
Chapman, GeorgeBook Icon (1559-1634) Noah, MordecaiBook Icon (1785-1851)
Chayefsky, Sidney ‘Paddy’Book Icon (1923-1981) O’Casey, SeanBook Icon (1880-1964)
Chekhov, AntonBook Icon (1860-1904) O’Neill, EugeneBook Icon (1888-1953)
Childress, AliceBook Icon (1916-1994) Odets, CliffordBook Icon (1906-1963)
Chin, FrankBook Icon (1940-) Osborne, JohnBook Icon (1928-1994)
Christie, AgathaBook Icon (1890-1976) Otway, ThomasBook Icon (1652-1685)
Churchill, CarylBook Icon (1938-) Pakula, Alan J.Book Icon (1928-1998)
Congreve, WilliamBook Icon (1670-1729) Pinter, HaroldBook Icon (1930-2008)
Coppola, Francis FordBook Icon (1939-) Pirandello, LuigiBook Icon (1867-1936)
Crimp, MartinBook Icon (1956-) Plautus, Titus MacciusBook Icon (254 BC-184 BC)
Cuaron, AlfonsoBook Icon (1961-) Polanski, RomanBook Icon (1933-)
Curtiz, MichaelBook Icon (1886-1962) Priestley, J.B.Book Icon (1894-1984)
Dangarembga, TsitsiBook Icon (1959-) Rice, ElmerBook Icon (1892-1967)
Davis, JackBook Icon (1917-2000) Richardson, WillisBook Icon (1889-1977)
Dekker, ThomasBook Icon (1572-1632) Rose, ReginaldBook Icon (1920-2002)
Dryden, JohnBook Icon (1631-1700) Rostand, EdmondBook Icon (1869-1918)
Du Maurier, DaphneBook Icon (1907-1989) Rowley, WilliamBook Icon (1585-1642)
Duerrenmatt, FriedrichBook Icon (1921-1990) Saroyan, WilliamBook Icon (1908-1981)
Dunlap, WilliamBook Icon (1766-1839) Sayers, Dorothy L.Book Icon (1893-1957)
Edson, MargaretBook Icon (1961-) Sayles, JohnBook Icon (1950-)
Etherege, Sir GeorgeBook Icon (1635-1691) Scorsese, MartinBook Icon (1942-)
EuripidesBook Icon (d. 406 BC) Scott, RidleyBook Icon (1937-)
Fincher, DavidBook Icon (1962-) Shakespeare, WilliamBook Icon (1564-1616)
Fletcher, JohnBook Icon (1579-1625) Shange, NtozakeBook Icon (1948-2018)
Fo, DarioBook Icon (1926-) Shaw, George BernardBook Icon (1856-1950)
Ford, JohnBook Icon (1586-1640) Shepard, SamBook Icon (1943-2017)
Forman, MilosBook Icon (1932-2018) Sheridan, Richard BrinsleyBook Icon (1751-1816)
Friel, BrianBook Icon (1929-2015) Shirley, JamesBook Icon (1596-1666)
Fugard, AtholBook Icon (1932-) Simon, NeilBook Icon (1927-2018)
Fuller, CharlesBook Icon (1939-2022) Smith, Anna DeavereBook Icon (1950-)
Gay, JohnBook Icon (1685-1732) SophoclesBook Icon (496 BC-406 BC)
Gibson, WilliamBook Icon (1914-2008) Southern, TerryBook Icon (1924-1995)
Gilbert and SullivanBook Icon (1836-1911) Spielberg, StevenBook Icon (1946-)
Glaspell, SusanBook Icon (1876-1948) Stoppard, TomBook Icon (1937-)
Gondry, MichelBook Icon (1963-) Strindberg, AugustBook Icon (1849-1912)
Green, Paul EliotBook Icon (1894-1981) Sturges, PrestonBook Icon (1898-1959)
Greenaway, PeterBook Icon (1942-) Suskind, PatrickBook Icon (1949-)
Gurney, A.R.Book Icon (1930-2017) Syal, MeeraBook Icon (1961-)
Hagedorn, JessicaBook Icon (1949-) Synge, John MillingtonBook Icon (1871-1909)
Hansberry, LorraineBook Icon (1930-1965) Tarkington, BoothBook Icon (1869-1946)
Heckerling, AmyBook Icon (1954-) Tyler, RoyallBook Icon (1757-1826)
Hellman, LillianBook Icon (1905-1984) Valdez, LuisBook Icon (1940-)
Heywood, JohnBook Icon (1497-1580) Vanbrugh, JohnBook Icon (1664-1726)
Heywood, ThomasBook Icon (1573-1641) Wasserstein, WendyBook Icon (1950-2006)
Highway, TomsonBook Icon (1951-) Webster, JohnBook Icon (1580-1625)
Howard, Sidney CoeBook Icon (1891-1939) Wedekind, FrankBook Icon (1864-1918)
Hwang, David HenryBook Icon (1957-) Weir, PeterBook Icon (1944-)
Ibsen, HenrikBook Icon (1828-1906) Welles, OrsonBook Icon (1915-1985)
Inchbald, ElizabethBook Icon (1753-1821) Whale, JamesBook Icon (1889-1957)
Inge, WilliamBook Icon (1913-1973) Wiene, RobertBook Icon (1873-1938)
Ionesco, EugeneBook Icon (1909-1994) Wilde, OscarBook Icon (1854-1900)
Jones, Tommy LeeBook Icon (1946-) Wilder, ThorntonBook Icon (1897-1975)
Jordan, NeilBook Icon (1950-) Williams, TennesseeBook Icon (1911-1983)
Kaufman, GeorgeBook Icon (1889-1961) Wilson, AugustBook Icon (1945-2005)
Kubrick, StanleyBook Icon (1928-1999) Wycherly, WilliamBook Icon (1640-1716)
Kureishi, HanifBook Icon (1954-) Yew, ChayBook Icon (1965-)
Kurosawa, AkiraBook Icon (1910-1998) Zeffirelli, FrancoBook Icon (1923-2019)
Kushner, TonyBook Icon (1956-)

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