This article provides an overview of how scholars in the discipline of folklore have approached the topic of folk drama over the past one hundred fifty years, arguing that, despite relative neglect in the field, folk drama is a valuable window into culture and should be taken more seriously. I begin with nineteenth century ideas about ritual drama that stem from Sir James Frazer. I then discuss the growing emphasis on context that emerged in the twentieth century, including overlaps between ideas about folk drama, performance, and theories of play more generally. I conclude by providing a brief overview of the relationship between play, drama, and politics, and suggest that contemporary digital realms, such as YouTube, offer a new ecology of folk drama that brings traditional questions about actors, context, play-frames, audience and transformation to the fore in new and interesting ways.
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