History of drama dates back to the ancient times, to Greece, when it actually emerged as a tragedy. It was in Greek region Attica in the 6-th century BC. And at that time it was very much like celebratory music. Then comes medieval drama, which is not connected and was not influenced at all by ancient drama, and was a separate independent historical unit. It was very much influenced by the Christian church.
Then we can follow the restoration and 18-th century drama (corresponds to the restoration of monarchy in England and was primarily for socially, politically and culturally homogeneous class), 19-th and a romantic rebellion (influenced by the period called Romanticism in literature and that emerged primarily in Germany). There was also modern drama (influenced by antirealist ideas of Richard Wagner), symbolist drama (symbolist movement took place in France and it strived for ‘detheatricalizing’, foundation of ‘theatre of silence’), expressionist drama (was popular at the beginning of the 20th century and includes absurdist and ensemble theatre) and contemporary drama (realistic style drama, development of commercial theatre).
All those types of dramas present a certain period in the history not only of a dramatic art, but of the development of the humanity as well. We can follow how it developed along with each historical period.
Why history of drama is is so important for modern education? We all live in present moment and we just think and care about today and about tomorrow. By studying history of drama we can more appreciate what we have now and what we techniques do we use now. We can receive justification of how it was developed and what we objective and subjective reasons for that particular development. History of drama is obviously very useful, but indispensable, but results of drama history studies are less tangible and less immediate, but those studies are definitely the stem for what we call drama today.
Drama can appear to be the primary source for studying and understanding history. And it is hundred times useful then some other secondary adapted sources. We can follow social and cultural backgrounds of that time, relationships between people, analyze and compare of what we have today with the past.
By studying famous works of drama we can experience the same things as authors did and open to ourselves new sides of life. Drama history is type of knowledge each who studies drama should know and thoroughly understand. It is the way of acknowledging particular dramatic aspects as they are and on the basis of this knowledge we can feel deeper the meanings of each individual masterpiece.
To my opinion studying drama for the sake of studying it can bring only temporary knowledge, but those studies should also lay the foundation of spiritual development of the person. We can develop just when we get knowledge, we analyze what get from it and take some useful experience and transform it for our present life. We learn how to live the best way for us only. And drama history will assist us in that.
During the education process we study things that will be useful in our future jobs, we receive theoretical basis for our future occupations and practices, and historical issues of the education are not of less importance even though we will not be able to receive in future direct profits from them or find practical application. It is more for our personal development, understanding meaning of things and developing our personalities. We should be broad minded in order to find ourselves and be in harmony with ourselves and the whole world.
From the practical point of view drama history, in case when the person is very interested in it and envisions it to be his or her future occupation, can be the thing of person’s whole life. But in such a case a person should be talented enough to make people interested in his subject and attract attention to it.
And in general learning the history of drama also helps to conceive one’s own emotions and educates us the multiple ways to perceive the “not so happy” events. In this way we match the others, because everyone is trying to find a way through fate’s genuine jokes, which often end in a personal or professional drama.
Studying the history of drama feels like playing around: behaving irresponsibly in our own lives with knowledge of what has happened in the past and might come to pass in the future.
Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521434378.
Gordon, Mel. 1983. Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell’Arte. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. ISBN 0933826699.
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