A play is a piece of writing (literature) which can be seen at a theatre or on television, or heard on the radio. Plays often show conversations between people. A play is usually watched, rather than being read.
The people who appear in a play are actors; in a theatre they stand on a stage so the people watching (the audience) can see them better. A director helps the actors to work better, or tells them how he wants the play to be.
Plays can be very interesting because they can be understood in many different ways. When the writer - the playwright - makes the play, he can not say how the actors or director will use it. Sometimes the playwright is also the director or an actor: Molière, for example, was often an actor in his plays. But the director can change the play in different ways: the actors' costume, the music, how people say things, how they move or what they hold. Modern directors can direct plays by Shakespeare, and these old plays seem modern now, too.
There are many sorts of plays, but there are six important sorts:
- Tragedy - the end is sad, because of bad luck, because the hero is not perfect, or because of the gods.
- Comedy - the end is happy. Some things in this sort of play are funny; it makes us laugh.
- Domestic drama - the play is about normal life, family and friends.
- Tragicomedy - this play is both a tragedy and a comedy.
- Melodrama - this sort of play often has a happy ending. In it there is a villain - a bad person - but the hero (and often a heroine) win. The emotions are very strong.
- Symbolic - this sort of play is about ideas. The people in the play are not so important.
Symbolic can also be called expressionistic. Its all about how the writer or director presents ideas in a very different point of view.
- (Experimental) - this is a play in which the director and actors can try out new ideas. Anything can be tried out. It is an experiment.