closet drama

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closet drama,

a play that is meant to be read rather than performed. Precursors of the form existed in classical times. Plato's Apology is often regarded as tragic drama rather than philosophic dialogue. The dialogues of Cicero, Strabo, and Seneca were probably declaimed rather than acted, since only the comic theater survived transplantation from Greece to Rome. Closet dramas were particularly popular in the early 19th cent. when melodrama and burlesque dominated the theater, and poets attempted to raise dramatic standards by reviving past traditions. Byron's Manfred (1817) and Shelley's The Cenci (1819) imitate Shakespeare, and Goethe's Faust (Part I, 1808; Part II, 1832) draws in part on the Elizabethan tradition. Milton's Samson Agonistes (1671) and Shelley's Prometheus Unbound (1819) are based on Greek tragedies. Notable among other closet dramas are Robert Browning's Strafford (1837) and Pippa Passes (1841).
References in periodicals archive ?
In preparing for chapter 2, Filewod mounts the perverse argument that the "untheatrical and naive" (8) closet dramas of the nineteenth century were written against popular taste, and that these texts were "markers of cultural authenticity that announced a refusal to participate in the vulgar American theatre culture" (8), overlooking their subservience to an English literary fashion.
And, once again, homosocial, perhaps homoerotic, desires bubble beneath the surface, desires which are intimately related to the closet: "That the dramaturgy of both plays is dominated by De Monfort's and Basil's repressed desire for other male characters suggests that one of the reasons Baillie was interested in domestic spaces and closet drama stemmed from her curiosity about `closet issues'" (142).