Difference between Drama and Theater

Difference between Drama and Theater

One of the top six questions asked by teachers learning to integrate drama is:

"Do I have to do a play?"  

The short answer is NO, and here is the longer explanation why:

Drama is about the process of experiencing the art form and sharing the experience with co-participants. Drama isn’t used to create a performance for an audience; rather we strive to integrate Drama because it builds naturally on our ability to play.  With play, we can build powerful memory connections.  Drama is improvisational and, since it is not for an outside audience, there are less formal structures and performance rules.  You will only see participants, not an audience, in any of our images on this website. Pair Drama with each academic subject to enhance learning outcomes.

Theater, or creating a play, tells a story for the benefit of an audience. Theater focuses on performance as the end product and can be VERY difficult to integrate, as time must be spent on memorizing lines, rehearsing, and gathering props, sets, etc.  Performing plays is a wonderful endeavor; we have even included some play scripts on our site. However, doing plays is NOT the same as drama integration.  We encourage you to provide students with both drama AND theater opportunities, when possible. You understand now, right? 

Download this PDF for a snapshot of the difference between drama and theater.  A special welcome to our subscribers: this FREE download does not count against your monthly limit.

"Drama is where we begin so that theater might evolve."

Grade Level

  • Kindergarten
  • 1st Grade
  • 2nd Grade
  • 3rd Grade
  • 4th Grade
  • 5th Grade
  • 6th Grade
  • 7th Grade
  • 8th Grade
  • 9th Grade
  • 10th Grade
  • 11th Grade
  • 12th Grade
  • Adult