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Play and its Types and structures

About the Play:

  • A play is a piece of writing that tells a story through the actions and conversations of the actors on the stage. 

  • Act: Sometimes action becomes long so the activities of the play can be divided into many sections called acts. A Play is made of many elements-characters, setting, dialogue, plot, actions, scenes, etc. A person who writes a play is called a playwright.

  • We see three kinds of characters in plays)dynamic character ii)round character iii)flat character

  • A character that changes many times in the play, is called a dynamic character whereas a character that does not change and remains stagnant in the play, is called a flat character. A character that develops gradually, and expresses multiple sides in the same character, is called a round character.

Based on their actions and structures, plays are usually categorized into three groups- i) One-act play ii) Three-act play iii)Five-act play


One act play 

At the end of the nineteenth century,one-act play became a popular form of play. A one-act play is a play that is tightly constructed. In this play, very few characters perform around a short event with a focus on the dramatic situation, and the curtain of the stage falls once at the end of the play. For example, we can take The Rising of the Moon by Lady  Gregory.

A play makes us laugh, or it makes us cry depending on its story, characters, and events. There are many types of play, and all of them carry different features. Now Let’s take a glimpse at various types of plays.

Three-act Play:

The three-act play is a play in which actions are divided into three sections – a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the first act, characters and events are introduced. In the second act, conflicts touch their peak. In the third act, the play brings out catharsis or resolution. For example, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is a three-act play.

Five-Act Play:

A play in which actions are divided into five sections is called five act play. In the first act, the playwright builds the foundation of the play by portraying characters and their relationship with one another. It is also known as the exposition. The second act is known as the rising action in which tensions and curiosity among the characters are created to the extreme level. It grabs the attention of the audience. The third act deals with the climax of the play in which all the emotions and events reach their peak, and every audience gets engulfed in the story completely. The fourth act is known as the falling action in which all the issues of the play find out the resolution one after another. The fifth act is known as denouement in which all the conflicts are resolved, the story ends with a sense of closure and the audience understands all about the play completely. For example, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a five-act play. 

There are various types of plays based on their themes, description, and consequences. Let’s take a glimpse at them –


Farce is an exaggerated form of comedy in which things are shown with comic effect through the usage of absurdity and puzzled characters to entertain the audience. For example, we can take The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare.

Allegorical play:

An allegorical play is a narrative play in which a character, place, or event is used to convey another thing as a broader message about the incidents of the real world. For example, we can take Cathleen ni Houlihan by W. B. Yeats.

Comic Play:

A comic play or comedy is a theatrical performance that entertains its audience with laughter, fun, and amusement by using humourous characters, witty speeches, exaggerated traits, quirks, peculiarities, and satirical comments. It takes us far from the struggles of life to the ladder of fun. For example, we can take As You Like It by William Shakespeare.

Pastoral Play:

A play that glorifies the simplicity and joy of rustic life is called pastoral play. For example, we can take William Shakespeare’s As You Like It in which the greenery and simple life of the Forest of Arden captivates the Duke’s heart. In this play, we see all the elements of rustic life such as green landscapes, rivers, shepherds, and the music of nature which connects its readers to the natural world.

Tragic Play :

A play that deals with human suffering, tension, chaos,  flaws in humanity, the complications of life, and the inevitability of fate, is called a tragic play. Usually, this play is a five-act play. This play ends with the downfall of the protagonist, unfortunate events, and a message for the audience. For example, Othello by William Shakespeare is a tragic play in which Othello struggles and suffers a lot and ends his life with pathetic consequences.