Types of Plays
There is nothing that moves us more visually than seeing live theater. The beauty and hypnotic appeal of seeing a play can stay with a viewing audience throughout time. To sit in a theater and see a cast create an illusion onstage is perhaps one of the most magical experiences to ever witness.
When we think of the types of plays throughout history, we must pay homage to William Shakespeare. Widely renowned as the best writer of playwright history, Shakespeare made the world believe in the magic of theater. Known best as the world's preeminent dramatist, his creation of plays, sonnets, comedies and tragedies are still popular today. Even though there have been many attempts to classify Shakespeare's plays, we will use his plays as an example to determine the different styles of theater and how it continues to have a lasting affect on us throughout time.
The Shakespeare tragedies and comedies are more similar than we think. What these two types of plays have in common besides being authored by the same writer is the fact that drama unveils whether you want it to or not. Shakespearean comedies usually have a happy ending where characters marry while capturing a light-hearted tone than his other plays. Consistent patterns in Shakespearean comedies include: internal and external conflicts, separation, clever servants, romantic tensions and an intertwining plot.
- The Merry Wives of Windsor
- All's Well That Ends Well
Each one of these plays above capture an unusual tone and a controversial mix of humour and tragedy which has labeled them problem plays. Some argue it was an attempt of Shakespeare to capture Elizabethan humour and society in his plays.
- Antony and Cleopatra
- Julius Caesar
- King Lear
- Romeo and Juliet
- Timon of Athens
- Titus Andronicus
Shakespeare created tragic protagonists who were known to be good and evil. He gave each character free will, making this type of genre of plays one of the most influential in history. He was known to perfect a thirst for juvenile lust and adultery in his love tragedies of plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Othello. These tragedies showcased how love is unable to blossom because of the outside forces working against it. In other words, it was never any fault of the lovers for loving one another. It was just the people they surrounded themselves with standing in the way of their love.
Many English scholars have linked his plays to Aristotle's because of the fact that the protagonist is rejected yet an admired character with the audience.
The plays of William Shakespeare were grouped into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies. Some even argue that romance should be a type of Shakespeare play. Many of Shakespeare's history plays barely focused on the character's lives and oftentimes left out certain events in order to make the play appear more dramatic.
Shakespeare lived under the reign of Elizabeth I. She was the last monarch of the house of Tudor and his historical plays often played off the Tudor propaganda. In his play, Henry VIII, it ends with an unduly celebration of the birth of Elizabeth. Shakespeare's ability to evoke political and social evolution made it possible to regard his historical plays as an entertaining criticism of their native country.
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 1
Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI Part 3
When writing a play, you must first determine the type of play you wish to write about. There is a certain immediacy involved in play-writing that must be captured in each voice of the character. In order to determine the type of play you want to write about, you first how to know how long you would like the play to be.
A short play can be 10 minutes long. They have become popular over time because they feature a complete, compact play with a beginning, middle and end. Usually taking place in one scene and consists of no more than 10 pages.
One-act plays can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. The name one-act is derived from having only one act. It is usually a play that isn't long enough in length and more times than other is suitable for high school productions and 30 minute theatrical performances.
Well done one-act plays tend to focus on the main action, problem or circumstance in life. There is usually no time to get too involved in the complex layers of plot in a one-act play. Because a one-act play is a type of play that's straight to the point, it's important to write with the most limited technical demands.
Also called evening-length plays, these plays are long and usually take up an entire evening. Full-length plays are over an hour in length and sometimes last up to two. These types of plays are also more expensive than shorter plays. They require more set time preparation as well as technical demands. This type of play is what majority of people go to see when they buy play tickets from a theater or playhouse.
Musicals are another story. They can last anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours. Musical theater is a form of play that combines music, dance and dialogue. The story is usually based on love, humor, pathos and anger. These types of plays are usually performed around the world and presented at large venues in large cities such as, London, New York City or in Off-Broadway theaters.
There are three main components for a musical: the music, the lyrics and the book or story. It is closely related to the opera. Musicals can be written in English or another language. It traditionally opens up with a song or a dance that evokes some type of excitement from the viewing audience. Many musicals are based on adaptations from novels, such as Wicked, or films, such as Hairspray.
Musicals are perhaps one of the most difficult types of plays to produce, perform and distribute. Requiring specific set details, settings, costumes and lighting, this is one play whose musical cast is guaranteed to make a lasting impression.