A political drama can describe a play, film or TV program that has a political component, whether reflecting the author's political opinion, or describing a politician or series of political events.
Dramatists who have written political dramas include Aaron Sorkin,   Robert Penn Warren, Sergei Eisenstein, Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre, Howard Brenton, Caryl Churchill, and Federico García Lorca.
In the history of theatre, there is long tradition of performances addressing issues of current events, especially those central to society itself. The political satire performed by the comic poets at the theatres had considerable influence on public opinion in the Athenian democracy.  Those earlier Western dramas, arising out of the polis, or democratic city-state of Greek society, were performed in amphitheaters, central arenas used for theatrical performances, religious ceremonies and political gatherings; these dramas had a ritualistic and social significance that enhanced the relevance of the political issues being examined.
Shakespeare is an author of political theatre according to some academic scholars, who observe that his history plays examine the machinations of personal drives and passions determining political activity and that many of the tragedies such as King Lear and Macbeth dramatize political leadership and complexity subterfuges of human beings driven by the lust for power. For example, they observe that class struggle in the Roman Republic is central to Coriolanus . 
Historically in Soviet Russia, the term political theatre was sometimes referred to as agitprop theatre or simply agitprop, after the Soviet term agitprop. 
In later centuries, political theatre has sometimes taken a different form. Sometimes associated with cabaret and folk theatre, it has offered itself as a theatre 'of, by, and for the people'.[ citation needed ] In this guise, political theatre has developed within the civil societies under oppressive governments as a means of actual underground communication and the spreading of critical thought. Following the war there was an influx of political theatre, as people needed to discuss the losses of the war.
Often political theatre has been used to promote specific political theories or ideals, for example in the way agitprop theatre has been used to further Marxism and the development of communist sympathies. Russian agitprop theater was noted for its cardboard characters of perfect virtue and complete evil, and its coarse ridicule. 
But Marxist theatre wasn't always this directly agitational.[ citation needed ] Bertolt Brecht developed a highly elaborate and sophisticated new aesthetic—epic theater—to address the spectator in a more rational way.[ citation needed ] Brecht's aesthetics have influenced political playwrights throughout the world, especially in India and Africa.[ citation needed ] Augusto Boal developed the Brechtian form of Lehrstücke into his internationally acclaimed Theatre of the Oppressed, with its techniques of 'forum theatre' and 'invisible theatre', to further social change.[ citation needed ] Boal's work in this area has contributed to the emergence of the Theatre for Development movement across the world.[ citation needed ] In the sixties playwrights like Peter Weiss adopted a more 'documentary' approach towards political theatre, following on from the example of Erwin Piscator in the twenties. Weiss wrote plays closely based on historical documents like the proceedings of the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt.[ citation needed ]
Less radical versions of political theatre have become established within the mainstream modern repertory - such as the realist dramas of Arthur Miller ( The Crucible and All My Sons ), which probe the behavior of human beings as social and political animals.[ citation needed ]
A new form of political theatre emerged in the twentieth century with feminist authors like Elfriede Jelinek or Caryl Churchill, who often make use of the non-realistic techniques detailed above.[ citation needed ]. During the 1960s and 1970s, new theatres emerged addressing women's issues. These theatres went beyond producing feminist plays, but also sought to give women opportunities and work experience in all areas of theatrical production which had heretofore been dominated by men. In addition to playwright, producers, and actors, there were opportunities for women electricians, set designers, musical director, stage managers, etc.
The Living Theatre, created by Judith Malina and her husband Julian Beck in 1947, which had its heyday in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, is a primary example of politically oriented Brechtian performance art in the United States.[ citation needed ] Their original productions of Kenneth Brown's The Brig (c. 1964), also filmed, and of Jack Gelber's controversial play The Connection and its 1961 film rely upon and illustrate the dramaturgy of Brechtian alienation effect (Verfremdungseffekt) that most political theatre uses to some extent, forcing the audience to take a "critical perspective" on events being dramatized or projected on screen(s) and building on aspects of the Theatre of Cruelty, which developed from the theory and practice of French early surrealist and proto-absurdist Antonin Artaud. 
In American regional theatre, a politically oriented social orientation occurs in Street theatre, such as that produced by the San Francisco Mime Troupe and ROiL. The Detroit Repertory Theatre has been among those regional theaters at the forefront of political comedy, staging plays like Jacob M. Appel's Arborophilia, in which a lifelong Democrat prefers that her daughter fall in love with a poplar tree instead of a Republican activist.  In 2014, Chicago's Annoyance Theater produced Good Morning Gitmo: a one-act play by Mishu Hilmy and Eric Simon which lampoons the US Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay. 
Kitchen sink realism or kitchen sink drama was a movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film, and television plays, whose protagonists usually could be described as "angry young men" who were disillusioned with modern society. It used a style of social realism to depict the lives of working class Britons, and to explore controversial social and political issues ranging from abortion to homelessness. The film It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a precursor of the genre, and John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1956) is an example of an early play in this genre. 
The Iraq War is the focus of some recent British political drama; for example, Stuff Happens , by David Hare. David Edgar and Mark Ravenhill also satirize contemporary socio-political realities in their recent dramatic works.
Banner Theatre in Birmingham, England, in the United Kingdom, is an example of a specific kind of political theatre called Documentary theatre.
John McGrath, founder of the Scottish popular theatre company 7:84, argued that "the theatre can never 'cause' a social change. It can articulate pressure towards one, help people celebrate their strengths and maybe build their self-confidence… Above all, it can be the way people find their voice, their solidarity and their collective determination." 
Television series that have been classified as political dramas include The West Wing , Borgen , Boss , Jack and Bobby , The Bold Ones: The Senator , Commander in Chief , House of Cards (UK and US versions), Madam Secretary , Designated Survivor , Spin , Ingobernable , Scandal , Billions , The Looming Tower , and The Mechanism .
The Good Wife can also be considered a political drama, especially in its critically acclaimed second season and fifth season. Races for political office, including state's attorney, governor, and even a Presidential run, move in and out of the show's narrative and the story of its main character, Alicia Florrick. However, Alicia's primary profession as a litigator for the most part takes precedence in the narrative, and so the show more often focuses on her cases and related office politics, making it primarily a legal drama.[ citation needed ]
There have been notables films that have been labeled as political dramas such as Thirteen Days . A famous literary political drama which later made the transition to film was Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men .
Augusto Boal was a Brazilian theatre practitioner, drama theorist, and political activist. He was the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, a theatrical form originally used in radical left popular education movements. Boal served one term as a Vereador in Rio de Janeiro from 1993 to 1997, where he developed legislative theatre.
Epic theatre is a theatrical movement arising in the early to mid-20th century from the theories and practice of a number of theatre practitioners who responded to the political climate of the time through the creation of new political dramas. Epic theatre is not meant to refer to the scale or the scope of the work, but rather to the form that it takes. Epic theatre emphasizes the audience's perspective and reaction to the piece through a variety of techniques that deliberately cause them to individually engage in a different way. The purpose of epic theatre is not to encourage an audience to suspend their disbelief, but rather to force them to see their world as it is.
Heiner Müller was a German dramatist, poet, writer, essayist and theatre director. His "enigmatic, fragmentary pieces" are a significant contribution to postmodern drama and postdramatic theatre.
Experimental theatre, inspired largely by Wagner's concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, began in Western theatre in the late 19th century with Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of both the age in particular and, in general, the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. The term has shifted over time as the mainstream theatre world has adopted many forms that were once considered radical.
The distancing effect, also translated as alienation effect, is a concept in performing arts credited to German playwright Bertolt Brecht.
The Balcony is a play by the French dramatist Jean Genet. It is set in an unnamed city that is experiencing a revolutionary uprising in the streets; most of the action takes place in an upmarket brothel that functions as a microcosm of the regime of the establishment under threat outside.
Erwin Friedrich Maximilian Piscator was a German theatre director and producer. Along with Bertolt Brecht, he was the foremost exponent of epic theatre, a form that emphasizes the socio-political content of drama, rather than its emotional manipulation of the audience or the production's formal beauty.
Baal was the first full-length play written by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht. It concerns a wastrel youth who becomes involved in several sexual affairs and at least one murder. It was written in 1918, when Brecht was a 20-year-old student at Munich University, in response to the expressionist drama The Loner by the soon-to-become-Nazi dramatist Hanns Johst.
Documentary theatre is theatre that uses pre-existing documentary material as source material for stories about real events and people, frequently without altering the text in performance. The genre typically includes or is referred to as verbatim theatre, investigative theatre, theatre of fact, theatre of witness, autobiographical theatre, and ethnodrama.
Applied drama is an umbrella term for the use of theatrical practices and creativity that take participants and audience members further than mainstream theatre. It is often in response to conventional people with real life stories. The work often happens in non-conventional theatre spaces and social settings. There are several forms and practices considered to be under the umbrella of applied theatre.
Luis Miguel Valdez is an American playwright, screenwriter, film director and actor. Regarded as the father of Chicano film and playwriting, Valdez is best known for his play Zoot Suit, his movie La Bamba, and his creation of El Teatro Campesino. A pioneer in the Chicano Movement, Valdez broadened the scope of theatre and arts of the Chicano community.
Arthur Kutscher was a German historian of literature and researcher in drama. Together with Max Herrmann he can be seen as a founding father of theatre studies in Germany. He was a professor at Munich University, where he taught a famous seminar in theatre history. Kutscher was a friend of the iconoclastic dramatist and cabaret-star Frank Wedekind. His work influenced many playwrights, poets, and directors. His students included Bertolt Brecht, Erwin Piscator, Peter Hacks, Hanns Johst, Klabund, and Erich Mühsam. Brecht's first full-length play, Baal, was written in response to an argument in one of Kutscher's drama seminars. While Kutscher was responsible for inspiring an admiration for Wedekind in the young Brecht, he was "bitterly critical" of Brecht's own early dramatic writings.
The Lehrstücke are a radical and experimental form of modernist theatre developed by Bertolt Brecht and his collaborators from the 1920s to the late 1930s. The Lehrstücke stem from Brecht's epic theatre techniques but as a core principle explore the possibilities of learning through acting, playing roles, adopting postures and attitudes etc. and hence no longer divide between actors and audience. Brecht himself translated the term as learning-play, emphasizing the aspect of learning through participation, whereas the German term could be understood as teaching-play. Reiner Steinweg goes so far as to suggest adopting a term coined by the Brazilian avant garde theatre director Zé Celso, Theatre of Discovery, as being even clearer.
Conceptualised by 20th century German director and theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), "The Modern Theatre Is the Epic Theatre" is a theoretical framework implemented by Brecht in the 1930s, which challenged and stretched dramaturgical norms in a postmodern style. This framework, written as a set of notes to accompany Brecht's satirical opera, ‘Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny’, explores the notion of "refunctioning" and the concept of the Separation of the Elements. This framework was most proficiently characterised by Brecht's nihilistic anti-bourgeois attitudes that “mirrored the profound societal and political turmoil of the Nazi uprising and post WW1 struggles”. Brecht's presentation of this theatrical structure adopts a style that is austere, utilitarian and remains instructional rather than systematically categorising itself as a form that is built towards a more entertaining and aesthetic lens. ‘The Modern Theatre Is the Epic Theatre’ incorporates early formulations of Brechtian conventions and techniques such as Gestus and the V-Effect. It employs an episodic arrangement rather than a traditional linear composition and encourages an audience to see the world as it is regardless of the context. The purpose of this new avant-garde outlook on theatrical performance aimed to “exhort the viewer to greater political vigilance, bringing the Marxist objective of a classless utopia closer to realisation”.
Round Heads and Pointed Heads is an epic parable play written by the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, in collaboration with Margarete Steffin, Emil Burri, Elisabeth Hauptmann, and the composer Hanns Eisler. The play's subtitle is Money Calls to Money and its authors describe it as "a tale of horror." The play is a satirical anti-Nazi parable about a fictitious country called Yahoo in which the rulers maintain their control by setting the people with round heads against those with pointed heads, thereby substituting racial relations for their antagonistic class relations. The play is composed of 11 scenes in prose and blank verse and 13 songs. Unlike another of Brecht's plays from this period, The Mother, Round Heads and Pointed Heads was addressed to a wide audience, Brecht suggested, and took account of "purely entertainment considerations." Brecht's notes on the play, written in 1936, contain the earliest theoretical application of his "defamiliarization" principle to his own "non-Aristotelian" drama.
Guerrilla theatre, generally rendered "guerrilla theater" in the US, is a form of guerrilla communication originated in 1965 by the San Francisco Mime Troupe, who, in spirit of the Che Guevara writings from which the term guerrilla is taken, engaged in performances in public places committed to "revolutionary sociopolitical change." The group performances, aimed against the Vietnam war and capitalism, sometimes contained nudity, profanity and taboo subjects that were shocking to some members of the audiences of the time.
Anna "Asja" Lācis was a Latvian actress and theatre director.
Margarete Emilie Charlotte Steffin was a German actress and writer, one of Bertold Brecht's closest collaborators, as well as a prolific translator from Russian and Scandinavian languages.
Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, known professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet. Coming of age during the Weimar Republic, he had his first successes as a playwright in Munich and moved to Berlin in 1924, where he wrote The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill and began a life-long collaboration with the composer Hanns Eisler. Immersed in Marxist thought during this period, he wrote didactic Lehrstücke and became a leading theoretician of epic theatre and the Verfremdungseffekt.
Dramatic Workshop was the name of a drama and acting school associated with the New School for Social Research in New York City. It was launched in 1940 by German expatriate stage director Erwin Piscator. Among the faculty were Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, among the students Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Beatrice Arthur, Walter Matthau, Tennessee Williams and Elaine Stritch. The Dramatic Workshop considerably contributed to the resurgence of the Off-Broadway theatre.