For thousands of years, drama has been an instinctive part of human nature. The Greeks encouraged the art of storytelling, an essential part of life that has provided us with a source of entertainment. Today it has evolved to films, television and theatre- all of which are regarded as primary functions of a society in order to have enjoyable experiences. It is unanimously agreed that medicine, engineering and law are all essential for creating a better society. We need medicine to live, engineering to progress and law to protect. Similarly, drama is crucial in that it provides us with not only a source of entertainment and escapism during tough times, but also allows us to understand human nature. A quote from Dead Poets Society sums it up entirely: “the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, art, romance, these are what we stay alive for.”
Whether you are writing the play, playing the part or watching the performance, you will be educated about the topic. If you are playing the role of a doctor, a psychopath or someone with an illness, you will need to understand their subject in order to perform the role successfully. Whilst it is often for entertainment purposes, we are constantly being educated through it. Thus, drama allows us to explore the world in general, and it becomes a study of humanity in all its forms.
Naturalism to entertain; epic to provoke thought; verbatim to inform- whatever the style, the function of theatre is crucial for us to better ourselves as people. During colonial Britain, convicts created theatre companies to become more socialised, dignified and reformed beings. Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good stresses that whilst society needs people to learn practical skills to be able to survive, to become a civilized society we need drama. Through refining a skill, and taking on a role of another person, we become more empathetic creatures of nature. It develops our ability to communicate and understand emotions, improving our relationships around us. Moreover, it allows us to be more rounded beings. It is clear that life is easier when you are able to communicate, express and work well together. Drama provides these tools.
Without a doubt, it can be confidently agreed that without drama, life would be a colourless place. Drama captures beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) moments of life. We can get a sense of different eras in history, colonial Britain and the war, amongst many other things due to drama. Not only historically, but culturally too. Theatre helps us understand people from cultures other than our own. It accounts for a much less ethnocentric, and more accepting world.
In today’s society, there is a heavy emphasis in the importance of scientific study to improve the world in relation to climate change, disease and technological advancement- yet we must not be hasty to forget the importance of the arts. Drama has the ability to educate its audience on current worldly affairs. In that moment, drama will often bring a physical reaction from the audience member: ingenuous emotion will be evoked, and that in itself is a very powerful thing. In that instant, people realise they’re alive. Drama, at its best, holds a redemptive power in making society a more cultural, enlightened and stimulating place.