Cultural and Creative Arts

Dramatists and playwrights

Dramatists/playwrights are the people that write plays. They are writers of plays/drama for stage, television, or radio presentation.

Categories of Dramatists/Playwright

The three (3) categories Dramatists namely:

  1. Classical/universal dramatists.
  2. Modern dramatists.
  3. Contemporary dramatists.

Classical or Universal Dramatists

These are the ancient Greek Dramatists. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes and Euripides are the founding fathers of drama as we know it today.

Their established form of drama is the authority that is still followed.

The dramas were mostly tragedy and comedy, although, a lot of myth and history was also covered. Tragedy means drama ending unhappily or sadly.


(525 – 456BC), Greek dramatist, the earliest of the Greek tragic poets of Athens. As the predecessor of Sophocles and Euripides, he is called the father of Greek tragedy. Aeschylus is said to have written about 90plays. But only80 of these

Plays is known.Aeschylus is called the father of Greek tragedies. One of his specialties was trilogies, or group of three plays, usually bound together by a common theme.

Life History of Aeschylus
  1. He was born in Eleusis, near Athens.
  2. His father was a member of the Athenian nobility.
  3. He fought successfully against the Persian Armies at the battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
  4. He also fought in 480Bc at the battle of Salamis
  5. He died at Gela.


(496 -406 BC), Athenian dramatist, ranking with Aeschylus and Euripides as one of the three great tragic dramatists of Ancient Greece. His best known plays are Antigone and Oedipus Rex (Oedipus Tyrannus in Greek.).

Life History of Sophocles
  1. He was born in ColonusHippius (now part of Athens),
  2. He was the son of Sophillus a wealthy Armour maker.
  3. Provided with the best traditional Aristocratic education
  4. He led a chorus of youths who celebrated the Greek naval victory over the Persians at Salamis in 480Bc.
  5. In 468BC at the age of 28, he defeated Aeschylus, whose pre-eminence as a tragic poet had long been undisputed, in a dramatic competition.
  6. He was the most consistently successful Athenian Dramatist, winning first prize about 20 times.
  7. He wrote more than 120 plays.


(448 – 385 BC) He is an Athenian playwright. Aristophanes was considered one of the greatest writers of comedy. His plays have remain popular because of their witcomic invention and poetic language.comedies during the Greek period meant happy endings in their drama.

  1. He had three Sons: Philippos, Araros, and Nikostrators all of whom were comic poets.
  2. He was first and foremost a Satirist.
  3. He wrote more than 40 plays.


(480 406 BC), Greek Dramatist, ranking with Aeschylus and Sophocles as one of the three great tragic poets of Ancient Greece. He wrote nearly 90 plays of which 18 survive today. Of all the ancient Greek dramatists, Euripides has been credited with his combination of tragedy and comedy. He writes tragicomedy plays.

Life History of Euripides
  1. He was born on the Island of Salami’s on September 23, in about 480BC.
  2. He was born on the day of a great Greek naval Victory over the Persians
  3. His parents belong to the nobility.
  4. Late in his life Euripides left Athens for Macedonia, where he died.

Modern Dramatists/Playwrights

Modern Dramatist so called not because of the period but because of the quality, acceptance and popularity of their works in modern times.

Examples are William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe in England, Pierre Corneille and J.P. Sartre in France etc

Shakespeare’s writing are the most popular of this category and below are some of his works:

  1. Romeo and Juliet – A story on romance.
  2. Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth – All three are historical accounts.
  3. The Winter’ Tale – A tragic comedy.

Aside Shakespeare which is the most popular of this category, J.W. von Goethe and Betroth Brecht in Germany, W.B. Yeasts in Ireland, T. S. Eliot in USA are popular modern dramatist.

Contemporary Dramatists

Those under this category include:

Wole Soyinka, Efua Sutherland, Zulu Sofola, J. P. Clark, Femi Osofisan, James EneHenshaw and Ola Rotimi, etc.

Wole Soyinka

Nigeria’s most honoured dramatist won the international Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.


  1. What is drama?
  2. Define dramatist/playwright.
  3. State the three categories of dramatists/playwrights.
  4. (i) State THREE Classical Dramatists. (ii) Give at least three dramatists in each of the categories of dramatist.
  5. Write a brief note on the following (i) Wole Soyinka (ii) Zulu Sofola (iii) Ola Rotimi.

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