The term “school drama” refers to an academic and educational genre of plays that were written by scholars and performed by schoolboys.
Early in the 16th c. there was a great deal of dramatic activity in schools and colleges in England. In c. 1553 Ralph Roister Doister was written by Nicholas Udall or Uvedale, headmaster of Westminster, and performed by the boys of the school. In 1566 Gammer Gurton’s Needle, of uncertain authorship, was acted at Christ’s College, Cambridge.
The tradition of the annual school play very probably derives from school drama. One of the best-known examples is the annual Greek play at Bradfield. Originally the plays were in Latin; then the vernacular was used more and more. The Jesuits, above all, were responsible for the popularization of this form in Europe and were the major influence in
the 17th c.; Jesuit drama) is a genre of its own.
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