What Is Verse Drama?

What is verse drama?

In its simplest form, "verse drama" is a written script, meant to be enacted in front of an audience,  which is written primarily or significantly in verse (short lines of text).

So, pretty much, if it looks like this...you've got a verse drama, my friend!


ANDREW. Sir Toby!  Good Sir Toby!

TOBY.                                                       How now, Sir Andrew.
 Wherefore are you come today?

MARIA.                                             I'll answer for the sot:
​He came to drink a dram,  and there's an end.

ANDREW. To drink, and more: to hug we three together!

(Original text by Emily C. A. Snyder.)
Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Andrew Ricks), Sir Toby Belch (Steven Martin) and Maria (Susan Ly) continue their capers in Illyria in Duncan Pflaster's verse comedy, MALVOLIO'S REVENGE. Photo from TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS' 2019 Staged Reading in New York City. Photo courtesy of Lisa LaGrande.

Have I written verse?

It's entirely likely!  While verse drama is sometimes called "poetic drama," poetry and verse are actually separate things.

Poetry: is arranging words in a pleasing way, using the many techniques - such as meter, rhyme, alliteration, etc. - to give the text an "elevated" feel.  Both prose and verse may be poetical.  But neither prose nor verse depend on poetical language.

Prose: is any text written primarily or significantly in paragraph form.  This means that sentences are put together into a paragraph (rather than lines of verse).  Paragraphs therefore rest upon sentence structure (rather than verse lines) to convey meaning.  This paragraph, and all the preceding ones, are written in prose.

Verse: is any text where
The thought is conveyed
Not through sentence structure, but:
Through lines of verse.

This verse may be metrical,
Or even poetical,
It may employ rhythm and rhyme--
But what makes it a verse
(If we need to rehearse)
Is it ends with a break in the line.
NEXT TIME: We'll chat about Dramatic Verse vs. Verse Drama.


Look at your own plays.  Have you been employing verse?  Drop the link to your script on New Play Exchange or the sample of your published play!

Want an extra challenge? Try writing any of the following: prosaic prose, poetic prose, prosaic verse, poetic verse.  What did you discover?  Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @hamlet2hamilton!


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