Where did Drama start?

by | Oct 15, 2023

The origin of dramatic arts is deeply rooted in human expression, storytelling, and the exploration of the human experience. It was the ancient Greeks, Chinese and English who made dramatic arts what it is today.

The Greeks used dramatic performances as a part of their religious festivals. It was believed that drama had the power to educate, entertain, and reflect on the human condition. 

Three famous playwrights: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote tragic plays that explored themes like morality, fate, and human conflict. 

Greek plays were performed in huge outdoor amphitheaters with audiences of 10,000-20,000 people. The actors used elaborate costumes, masks with built-in megaphones for amplification, and a chorus to enhance the overall experience.

Dramatic arts were so popular with audiences that often businesses were closed and a holiday declared in order for everyone to attend a performance. They even let prisoners out of jail so they could attend.

In ancient China, dramatic arts had a similar start. The Chinese opera dates back to the Tang Dynasty, and combined elements of music, dance, theater, and acrobatics. Their performances educated the audience about historical events, mythical tales, and traditional legends. They also used elaborate costumes but included sensational makeup and stylized movements. The Chinese knew that dramatic arts promoted moral lessons, virtues, and a national identity. 

Dramatic arts flourished through medieval times and the Renaissance in Europe. Plays became popular entertainment for nobles and common people alike. Renaissance playwright William Shakespeare explored genres like tragedy and comedy through exceptional works such as: Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Twelfth Night. 

Today dramatic arts has been marked with cultural influences, social changes, and technological advancements. As society continues to evolve, the dramatic arts will undoubtedly continue to captivate audiences and force us to reflect on the ever-changing nature of the human experience.

Sheri Prescott

Owner, Arts on Fire