KOLEC Lesson 14: Types of drama

KOLEC Lesson 14: Types of drama




A drama is a story that is intended to be performed by actors in front of an audience. It is an art form that tells a story through the speech and actions of the characters in the story. The story is a drama that is told in a way that it can be acted by characters before an audience. 

In this lesson, the following aspects will be covered:

  • Overview of the term drama,
  • Theories of the origin of drama, and 
  • Types of drama



The term 'drama' comes from a Greek word that means 'to do' or 'accomplish.' Thus, a drama is a specific mode of fiction represented in performance. 



There are three theories regarding the origin of drama. They are:  

(1) The first theory holds that drama developed from ancient Greek religious ceremonies that were performed in order to win favour from the gods like Dionysus. During these ceremonies, priests often impersonated supernatural beings or animals. 

(2) The second theory says that the drama was originated in choral hymns of praise sung at the tomb of a dead hero. At some point, a speaker was separated from the chorus and began to act out deeds in the hero's life. This acted part became more elaborate and the role of the chorus diminished. Eventually, the stories were fully performed as plays, and their origins were forgotten.  

(3) According to the third theory, drama grew out of a natural love of storytelling. Stories told around campfires re-created victories in the hunt or in battle or the feats of dead heroes. These stories also were then developed into dramatic retellings of the events.



There are several kinds of drama but many dramas combine more than one form in a single drama. These are: 

(1) Tragedy

This is the form of drama that shows seriousness and has a tragic end. In this kind of drama, the main character dies or experience an unhappy ending. 

Examples of tragedies:  

  • Kinjeketile 
  • Dedan Kimathi

(2) Comedy

This is the kind of drama that evokes laughter often by exposing the pretensions of the fools and rascals. But even in the midst of laughter, comedy can raise serious issues and questions. The comedy can be both critical and playful. Most comedies have a happy ending.  

Examples of comedies:  

  • The Trials of Brother Jero 
  • The Lion and the Jewel 

(3) Tragi-Comedy

This is the kind of drama that combines both the elements of tragedy and comedy. In this type of drama, the main character does not die or end in danger. 

Examples of tragi-comedies:  

  • The Dilemma of a Ghost 
  • The Lion and the Jewel  

(4) Historical drama

This is the type of drama that expresses the history of a certain society. In this drama, a reader can also find elements of tragedy and comedy.  

Examples of historical dramas:  

  • Dedan Kimathi 
  • Kinjeketile 

(5) Melodrama

This is the kind of drama for entertainment. It is a drama with a sensational and romantic plot and it is often accompanied by music.

Example of melodrama:

  • The Lion and the Jewel

This course is prepared and offered by: 


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Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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