What are the best drama techniques

Drama: Structure, 11 Features & 3 Examples of the Literary Genre

The drama is a literary genre with a long tradition. It is very different from epic and lyric lyrics. We have everything worth knowing, a definition, important terms for analysis, the structure of the Aristotelian drama, eleven features and examples from Goethe, Schiller and Bertolt Brecht.

The literary genre “Drama” is characterized by its dramatic emotional outbursts. They serve as a design tool and provide entertainment. Whether tragic or funny, open or closed, classic or not - we took a closer look at the literary play and explain its most important features to you.

The drama: a genre of drama

Dramas are written for the theater

The drama belongs to the genre “drama”. Along with “epic” and “lyric”, it is one of the three basic literary genres. The Epic includes fictional narratives by a fictional narrator in verse or prose that is not tied to space or time.

ThePoetry refers to texts in verse formthat mostly rhyme, are subjective and have rhetorical means. The Drama, on the other hand, is written for the theater, has no narrator and is tied to space and time. That means there are no significant changes of location or time leaps.


In literature, this denotes drama Texts with assigned roles. As a broad term, it can include all ballet and theater pieces, opera texts, scripts and radio play texts. More often, however, it is only attributed to the exciting and sentimental theater plays. What defines the drama is his Text basis. This is how it differs from improvised theater.

According to Aristotle, the main characteristic of the drama is the Mediation of the action through dialogues. This is how it differs from narrative literature such as the epic or the novel. The Aristotelian drama is also known as “rule drama” or “classical drama”. It consists of five files and follows certain rules.

Modern dramas are designed to be performed and maintained on stage by actors instructions. Since the 19th century there has also been Notes to the director. In the 20th century, other sub-genres such as social drama and analytical drama emerged. New forms of drama are radio plays and film drama.

Important terms of a drama

"Maria Stuart" (1800) is a historical drama

In this chapter we have briefly explained some terms for you. They are important for describing and analyzing a drama. In the first section you will find the different ones Kinds of a dramain order to be able to specify which sub-genre the present drama belongs to. In the second section we have a few Technical terms and Names for the dramatic characters compiled. They keep coming up in relation to drama and it is useful to know about them.

Types of a drama:

  • Comedy: comedy, drama with a happy ending
  • Tragedy: tragedy, drama with a sad outcome (usually death of the hero)
  • Tragic Comedy: Drama with comic and tragic elements
  • Absurd theater: depicts the disoriented person in a meaningless world and shows grotesque, comical and unreal scenes (20th century)
  • Social drama: action is shaped by social circumstances
  • Analytical Drama: Drama of discovery or disclosure
  • Dramolet: short drama, mini-drama, microdrama
  • Historical drama: historical drama, thematizes historical events, based on real events
  • Verse drama: drama written in verse
  • Moral piece: illustrates in a critical way the customs of an era
  • Morality: instructive drama that depicts abstract concepts through people (such as virtue, vice, life, death)
  • Knight drama: Drama with a knight as the protagonist

Technical terms and people:

  • Staging: preparation, design and implementation of a drama (how the performance is staged)
  • Dramaturgy: working on a drama (structure, structure), teaching the drama
  • Dramatis Personae: all characters in a drama
  • Antistrophe: Choral song in the ancient Greek drama
  • Elevator: self-contained section of a drama
  • Epilogue: epilogue
  • Intermezzo: interlude
  • Monologue: self-talk
  • Protagonist: main character and first actor in ancient drama
  • Antagonist: opponent of the protagonist
  • Tritagonist: third actor in ancient Greek drama
  • Hero: active main character
  • Antihero: passive, negative main character
  • Luminary: Choir leader in ancient drama

Closed and open drama

The closed drama is often about nobles or kings

The closed drama usually has only a few figures, mostly from the upper social class, such as kings or nobles. There is only one place of the action and sometimes a few side scenes. The Action is coherent and self-contained. The ending is clear and there is no room for further interpretation.

The open drama represents in principle the opposite of closed drama. It has a rather volatile plot with multiple storylines, there are leaps in time and several locations. In addition, there are many figures that sometimes even become confusing. These figures usually represent different social classes with different linguistic styles.

Subgenres of Drama

As already explained in the definition, any literature belonging to the genre of drama can be called drama. However, it is more common to describe an exciting, dramatic play as a drama. This drama has two basic forms. The one Form with a sad outcome becomes a tragedy designated. The other Form with a happy ending, Jokes, language games, irony or satire is called a comedy. The distinction between these two subgenres was already established by Aristotle (384–322 BC).

"Comedy seeks worse people to imitate tragedy better than they appear in reality."

This quote sums up well what the essential distinction is between tragedy and comedy. Where the Comedy about the bad sides of man makes fun of and ironically criticizes society, lifts the Tragedy the virtue of man on a pedestal. Even if the tragic hero fails because of involuntary entanglements, he does so with the best of intentions and nobility.


The tragedy has a tragic ending

The tragedy already existed in ancient Greece. It can also be used as a Tragedy and forms the counterpart to comedy. You can recognize them by one unsolvable conflict and the tragic fate of the hero. The plot turns into a catastrophe with the no fault Failure of the tragic hero ends. This failure usually culminates in his death.

The audience should be shaken emotionally by the tragic ending and see the noble hero with the best of virtue as an instructive role model. It should moral improvement through compassion because, according to Aristotle, wailing (éleos) and shuddering (phóbos) cause a purification of the soul (kátharsis).


Comedy is the second form of drama. It can also be used as a Comedy and is characterized by humor, irony and cheerfulness. The dramatic one Conflict is solvable and there is a happy ending. The purpose of the comedy is that Amusement of the audience.

Human mistakes are exaggerated, the characters ridiculed. In contrast to tragedy, the comic heroes sometimes come to the aid of chance. It will be with appearance and reality as well as unfulfilled expectations, there are entanglements and delusions.

The rule drama (classic drama)

The rule drama or classic drama is a standardized structure of plays. It originated during the Renaissance, more precisely the French Classical period, in the 17th century, and had an impact from there on. The Greek philosopher Aristotle names the six main elements of the drama and states that the renouncement of subplots and the time limit for a day are also characteristic.

The main elements are: plot (myth), Characters (ethos), speech (lexis), Thought / intention (diánoia), Show / scenery (opsis) and Singing / music (melopoiía). The Roman poet Horace (65 to 8 BC) also called for one Division into five acts. As the ancient philosophies and teachings resurrected in the French Classical era, the following rules for a classical drama emerged:

  • Unity of action, place and time (no time jumps or change of location in the action)
  • Imitation (mostly antique models)
  • Morality (nothing offensive was allowed to be shown on the stage)
  • Estates clause (nobles and kings as protagonists)
  • Uniformity of the speaking style (mostly high-level language, no dialects)
  • Three-person rule, prohibition of a new person after the first act

Aristotelian drama (triangle after Gustav Freytag)

Aristotle (384 to 322 BC)

From the ancient teachings and the provisions of the French classical period, a was created in the 19th century pyramidal structure of the classical drama according to Aristotle. The shape of a triangle provides the starting point for the five acts. The triangle was made by Gustav Freytag in his textbook “Technique of Drama” (1863). He oriented himself to Aristotle's theory of drama to the closed drama and used Friedrich Schiller's pyramidal structure ’. The Aristotelian drama is also called rule drama or classical drama and consists of five acts.

A key feature of this drama is that Unity of time, place and action. There is also a clear social hierarchy and only little acting persons (mostly aristocrats). We explain to you what you can understand by the individual points of the triangle and what impact they have on the drama. Then you will find a picture for illustration.

1st act: exposure

The Aristotelian drama begins with the exposition. It is an introduction to the viewer initial situation. This includes Mood, important characters, place and time of the event as well as social conditions. This introduction is important for understanding and further action. Often the main conflict of the drama is already hinted at here.

Act 2: Exciting moment (disaster)

The exposition is followed by the exciting moment, also known as the disaster. It builds up the dramatic conflict, intensifies it and creates tension. As a rule, it is the actions of the protagonist or the antagonist that drive the conflict forward. The climax (peripetia) follows.

3rd act: Peripetie (climax, climax)

The peripetia represents the climax of the drama. It is the decisive one Turning point of the piece and turn the fate of the hero for better or for worse. Usually this turning point arises in the act itself and is not triggered externally or by supernatural intervention.

4th act: Retarding moment

The retarding moment follows after the periphery. The term comes from French (“retarder” for “to delay”). It takes care of Tension by delaying the conclusion and thus also the certainty whether the dramatic conflict will resolve or end in a catastrophe. In the tragedy, the hope is still maintained that the hero can still be saved. In the comedy, the near happy ending is delayed a little longer.

5th act: solution / disaster

The end is the dramatic one Conflict either resolved or it ends in disaster. The generic term for the ending in the fifth act is "Dénouement". In the event of a tragedy, the denouement leads to Catharsis, i.e. to purify the soul after experiencing emotions through the play. In the case of a comedy, the conflict is resolved and there is one happy end. Often people get married at the end or characters recognize each other.


Differentiation from the social model “drama triangle”

The pyramid-like triangle by Gustav Freytag for dividing a play into five acts can easily be confused conceptually with the “drama triangle”. This can also be applied to plays, but it has its own Origin in psychology and only little in common with the Aristotelian drama. The drama triangle is a social model from transactional analysis that rules and Structure in the personality and behavioral patterns of humans matters.

The behavior patterns are referred to as a “game” and can be played through as scenarios. Take at least two people (usually three) three roles: victim, perpetrator (persecutor) and rescuer. These roles stir up role expectations that people mostly follow and establish predetermined relationships among them. However, these relationships can break up just as quickly as they came into being.

11 characteristics of a drama

Characteristics of a drama

In this chapter we have briefly summarized the most important characteristics of a drama for you. Because it written for the stage and has unique properties, you will quickly recognize texts of this genre. The characteristics help you to make accurate statements in an analysis. Afterwards we also have some links that can help you and three examples that you can practice with.

  1. Belongs to the genre of drama
  2. No narrator, just direct dialogue, sometimes stage directions
  3. The reader must identify the place, time and action by means of clues from the dialogue
  4. Figurative speech provides information about social milieus and personal backgrounds through language (e.g. dialect, accent, regiolect, speech defects)
  5. Expressions of feeling through inner monologue
  6. Propelling the action through direct speech
  7. Designed for stage performance (actors provide individual facial expressions, gestures and speech)
  8. Internal text information from the author, for example on the imaginary pitch of the voice and posture
  9. Fiction (just reading the piece) becomes simulation (reality is simulated on stage)
  10. Acoustic (audible) signals: language, accent, manner of speaking, style, speaking speed, pitch, voice guidance and volume (stage: noises, music or voice from the off)
  11. Optical (visible) signals:
    Stature, physiognomy, facial expressions, gestures, movement, mask and costume (stage: stage design, decoration, props, lighting, banners, projections)

Dramas: 3 well-known examples

In this chapter we have compiled three well-known examples of dramas. Goethe's drama "Iphigenia in Tauris" and Schiller's tragedy “Maria Stuart” both follow the classic dramatic structure according to Aristotle. Bertolt Brechts "The Threepenny Opera" is a less classic three-act act that is devoted to protagonists other than aristocratic society.

You find both important information as well as one each Summary of drama. Use the examples to practice for interpretations and analyzes, for presentations or for scientific work. We also have some links for you that can help you with this:

Tips for interpretation and text analysis
The main rhetorical means
Tips on all kinds of formal texts
Improve your writing style
Proper proofreading
Writing homework
Prepare a presentation
Poetry analysis
Novel analysis


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Iphigenia on Tauris (1787)

Goethe wrote the classic drama "Iphigenie auf Tauris"

The play "Iphigenie auf Tauris" was published by Goethe in 1787 and is based on Euripides "Iphigenie bei den Taurern" (approx. 414–412 BC). It shows Features of the classic closed drama according to Aristotle and reflects the ideal image of man in the Weimar Classic. It consists of five acts, place, time and plot are a unit and the plot is easy to understand.

Other features of the rule drama are the Models of Greco-Roman mythology and the typing of the characters (no individuals, represent certain ideas). There is no representation of emotional outbursts and individual feelings in order to create general human laws and a timeless human ideal.

Summary of the content

The Greek Iphigenia is the daughter of King Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. When Agamemnon got stuck on the way to the Trojan War, he sacrificed Iphigenia to the goddess Diana (goddess of the hunt). She saved Iphigenia and brought her to the island of Tauris, where she has been in debt to Dianas ever since and has worked for her as a priestess. Their sense of duty and their gratitude often contrast with their inner desire to return home and see their family again.

Before Iphigenia abolished human sacrifice on the island, the taurians sacrificed every stranger to the goddess Diana.However, when Thoas, the king of the taurians, is rejected by Iphigenia, he reintroduces this rite, as she is responsible for the sacrifices as the priestess.

Two strangers are brought in who later turn out to be her brother Orestes and his cousin Pylades. The two went to the island to bring the statue of his sister Diana back to Greece, according to an oracle from the god Apollo, and to loosen the family's curse. This has been plagued by violence and family murders since Iphigenie's disappearance.

Orestes finds out that Iphigenia is his sister and that Apollo's oracle was referring to his sister Iphigenia and not to Apollo's sister Diana. Iphigenia must therefore be brought back to Greece to solve the curse. Even if Thoas reluctantly lets them go, Orestes, Iphigenia and Pylades leave the island of Tauris and return to Greece.

Friedrich Schiller: Maria Stuart (1800)

Here the real Maria Stuart, Queen of Scotland

“Maria Stuart” is a historical drama and tragedy in five actsthat is based on true events. Mary Queen of Scots was Queen of Scotland from 1542 to 1567. Besides some historical facts however, Schiller deals freely with his character and its history. The work can be assigned to the Weimar Classic and follows the structure of the Aristotelian drama. As for one classic tragedy usual, the virtuous heroine dies at the end of the play.

Summary of the content

Mary Queen of Scots is the Queen of Scotland charged with aiding and abetting the murder of her husband. She is due to be executed, but her allies are trying to help and delay the execution.

Leicester, in love with Mary, organizes a meeting with her rival, Queen Elizabeth of England. The meeting is the climax of the piece (3rd act). In the conversation, Maria presents herself morally and morally, whereupon Elisabeth understands that power alone is not enough in life.

Despite the meeting, there is no longer any chance for Maria to be pardoned. She accepts her fate and becomes a conscientious heroine who recognizes God's will in her execution. She believes she must pay for being complicit in her husband's death. A queen who previously followed inclinations and sensual pleasures ultimately becomes a virtuous, idealized heroine who finds freedom and peace in a hopeless situation.

Bertolt Brecht: The Threepenny Opera (1928)

“The Threepenny Opera” by Bertolt Brecht was first performed in Berlin in 1928 and has been very successful from there. In 1933 it was banned by the National Socialists and only performed again in 1945. It is an adaptation of “Beggar’s Opera” (translated: Beggar's Opera) by John Gray and Johann Christoph Pepusch from 1728. In contrast to what its title suggests, it is not a thoroughly composed opera, but a Play with 22 song numberssung by actors.

The piece is not a classic drama. It consists of three files and, in contrast to the regular drama, does not address the nobility. It's about people who haven't experienced any compassion in their life and therefore don't know any themselves. The Threepenny Opera is not supposed to teach directly, but the Encourage viewers to think for themselves. It can be assigned to the "New Objectivity" epoch.

Summary of the content

The drama is about a competitive situation between Mackie Messer (Macheath) and Peachum. Both are Soho businessmen always looking for their own gain. Peachum is the head of the begging mafia, Mackie is a criminal lone warrior with good contacts. Mackie falls in love with Peachum's daughter Polly and the two marry against his will. That's why Peachum wants to put Mackie in jail. However, he was able to save himself through his good relationship with Police Chief Brown, who pardoned him in the name of the Queen and raised him to the rank of English nobility.

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