problem play

problem play

or thesis play

Type of drama that developed in the 19th century to deal with controversial social issues in a realistic manner, expose social ills, and stimulate thought and discussion. It is exemplified by the works of Henrik Ibsen, who exposed hypocrisy, greed, and hidden corruption of society in a number of masterly plays. His influence encouraged others to use the form. George Bernard Shaw brought it to an intellectual peak with his plays and their long, witty prefaces. More recent examples include works of Sean O'Casey, Athol Fugard, Arthur Miller, and August Wilson.

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