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 ?
While Cary's work is explored in terms of readership, Cavendish's closet plays are examined in relation to the closure of the theatres in 1642 and the accompanying shift from play going to play reading.
Finch's closet plays, The Triumphs of Love and Innocence and Aristomenes, are then examined in relation to both her refusal to write for the commercial stage and Katherine Philips's carefully orchestrated production of her translation of Corneille's Pompey on the Dublin stage.
While the title, Privacy, Playreading, and Women's Closet Drama, 15505-1700, implies an overly ambitious project, this slim volume offers a thoroughly researched and engaging analysis of a selection of women's closet plays and their relationship to commercial theatre, print culture, and the space within which these women worked.