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History of Literature and Theatre

ballad. Simple, often long poem relating a popular story.

blank verse. Poetry with a regular rhythm but no rhyme.

burlesque. Satirical and amusing parody. Noted for its combination of sex and comedy in the US.

comedy. Light amusing entertainment often with serious overtones.

elegy. Reflective poem written for the dead.

epic. Long poem relating the story of a hero or a legend.

fable. Story with a moral. The characters are usually represented by animals.

farce. Absurd comedy full of mishap and coincidence with stereotyped characters.

fringe theatre. Originally alternative theatre performed on the fringes of larger festivals. Nowadays any experimental or non-standard theatre.

gothic. Style of writing emphasising the grotesque, gloom and the supernatural.

grand guignol. French style of compounded horror.

Kabuki. Japanese theatre, a combination of acting, dance and music.

kathakal. Traditional Indian theatre performed by men and boys.

lyric. Short poem expressing thoughts.

melodrama. Exciting, emotional story. Often unsubtle and romantic.

metre. The rhythm of poetry.

mime. Acting without words.

miracle play. Play based on the lives of the saints.

morality play. Play depicting the rejection of temptation.

musical. A development of the operetta. Large and lavish shows with the emphasis on presentation rather than the story itself.

music hall. A number of acts presided over by an extrovert master of ceremonies.

mystery play. Religious drama.

noh. Traditional Japanese theatre depicting impermanence.

pantomime. Originally a mime now traditional Christmas play.

parody. Imitation of another's work usually making fun of the original.

prose. Any writing which is not in verse.

repertory. A theatre company with a number of plays in its repertoire.

satire. The ridicule of an idea to teach a moral lesson, usually political.

soliloquy. Thinking aloud. The actor is usually alone on stage.

sonnet. Poem with 14 lines and 10 syllables per line. Usually with a complex structure.

tragedy. Serious drama where the shortcomings of the principle character leads to their failure.

verse. Set of lines which may have rhyme and rhythm. Poetry.

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