In order to understand drama it must be broken down. When drama is broken down to its basic elements we see that it is just like religion. I think that drama, like mass and other religious ceremonies, centres on the ideals of a religious performance. Both can be seen a means of delivering a message through a similar medium to a certain target audience. Both contain a certain narrative and key ideals that they want to pass down to the audience. I feel that both also contain certain degrees of ritual. Drama calls for the audience to engage at key points throughout the performance. This is the same for religious ceremonies as a certain decorum and a scripted set of actions must be learned by the spectators for them to engage and actively take part in the proceedings. These include kneeling and standing at key moments.
Drama, along with religion can be seen as a communal activity. People meet at a certain location where they collectively take part. This is interesting as the process of group dynamics can easily be implemented. People are more susceptible to this in gangs as they all take on the collective mentality of the mob. This can be used by whichever medium to exert pivotal control and reach out to the mass audience. I feel that the use of group dynamics to control people can have dark applications.
Drama had a very powerful position long before the advent of television where they could exercise mass control. The Tudors recognised the potential of drama and they decided to govern it. I feel that this was done so to quash any political themes in the drama which would lead to revolt i.e. Shakespeare’s Richard II. The Tudors set out law that stated that all drama would have to be submitted and all traveling plays would have to be held in specific areas, usually outside the city walls so any possible disorder could be easily contained. The Tudors ‘influence’ over theatre allowed them to insert certain values into drama. People who go against the king in drama usually end up dead and any challenge against the current power structure is seen as unnatural. Propaganda is also widely inserted into drama. Shakespeare’s dramas were written mainly to appease the current monarchy. This was done so he could secure future employment and satisfy his monetary requirements.
When we study drama we must look at the question of high and low culture. How do we define drama? Is it high culture and do regard it as fine art. Or because of its accessibility do we consider it as low culture and a form of entertainment? To answer this we must first ask: Who is drama for? Firstly, I don’t agree with the notions of high and low culture. I feel that art should be accessible to all with no divisions. I feel that drama is an art form which is highly accessible to all which makes it unique and comes in the middle of the high/low culture debate.