What Is Drama

What is Drama?

Drama is a form of art that encompasses storytelling through the performance of diverse characters and narratives. It is an interactive and expressive medium that captures the attention and emotions of its audience.

History of Drama in South Africa

Drama has a rich history in South Africa, influenced by both indigenous practices and colonial traditions. Indigenous cultures have been engaging in various forms of performance art for centuries, using dance, music, and storytelling to convey messages and preserve cultural heritage. With the arrival of European colonizers, theatrical performances became more structured and influenced by Western dramatic forms.

During the apartheid era, drama played a pivotal role in highlighting social injustices and challenging the oppressive system. It became a vehicle for resistance and a platform for marginalized voices to be heard. The struggle for freedom and equality was depicted on stage, inspiring unity and activism among South Africans.

The Elements of Drama

Drama incorporates several key elements to create a compelling performance:


The plot refers to the sequence of events that unfold in a dramatic work. It includes the development of conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution.


Characterization involves the creation and portrayal of distinct characters, each with their own personality traits, motivations, and roles within the narrative. Good character development helps the audience connect with the story.


Dialogue is the spoken communication between characters. It conveys emotions, thoughts, and advances the plot. Effective dialogue captures the essence of the characters and their relationships.

What Is Drama


The setting refers to the time, place, and environment in which the story takes place. It provides context and enhances the audience’s understanding and immersion in the narrative.


A theme is the central message or idea explored in a dramatic work. It can tackle various topics such as love, social issues, politics, or personal growth. Themes allow for deeper exploration and reflection.

The Importance of Drama

Drama holds significant importance in various aspects of society:

Entertainment and Recreation

Drama offers enjoyable and entertaining experiences for both performers and audience members. It provides a means of escape, fosters creativity, and encourages imagination.

Education and Personal Development

Drama education promotes critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. It helps individuals develop communication skills, self-confidence, and the ability to collaborate effectively in a team. Drama also nurtures self-expression and enhances emotional intelligence.

Cultural Preservation

Through drama, indigenous cultures can continue to pass down traditions, rituals, and stories from one generation to another. It serves as a medium to preserve cultural heritage and identity.

Social Commentary

Drama has the power to shed light on social issues and provoke discussions. It encourages dialogue around topics such as human rights, discrimination, poverty, and inequality. By addressing these issues on stage, drama can inspire change and promote social cohesion.

Popular Drama Genres in South Africa

South Africa has a diverse theater landscape with various genres of drama. Some popular genres include:

Political Drama

Political dramas, often based on historical events, explore the dynamics of power, leadership, and socio-political issues. They provide a platform to reflect upon South Africa’s complex political history.


Comedy plays bring laughter and lightheartedness to the stage. They often satirize societal norms, relationships, and everyday situations, providing comic relief while subtly addressing underlying social issues.

Physical Theater

Physical theater relies heavily on movement, gestures, and non-verbal communication to tell a story. It combines elements of dance and theater to create visually captivating performances.

Musical Theater

Musical theater incorporates music, song, and dance to enhance the storytelling process. Musicals often feature catchy tunes, elaborate choreography, and theatrical performances that engage the senses.


Drama is an art form that encompasses storytelling, performance, and engagement. It has shaped South African history and continues to serve as a platform for expression, resistance, and social change. From indigenous cultural practices to contemporary theater productions, drama plays a significant role in entertainment, education, and cultural preservation. It promotes empathy, critical thinking, and encourages dialogue around societal issues. So, whether you’re attending a political drama, a comedy, or a physical theater performance, immerse yourself in the world of drama and be captivated by the power of storytelling on stage.