Closet drama: A drama, often written in verse, that is meant to be read rather than performed, even though it includes acts, scenes, dialogue, and sometimes even stage directions. Many closet dramas have been written in imitation of dramatic works and styles of some earlier literary epoch or period.
Some scholars would include under the umbrella of closet drama other works that were once performed onstage before an audience (or, at least, that were written to be so performed) but that are now viewed strictly as literary texts to be read by individuals. Others would include works that, though still occasionally performed, make for better reading than theater, whether because of the staging problems they entail, the type or level of language used, or the antiquated and obscure nature of their settings or subjects.
EXAMPLES: Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure (1668); John Milton’s Samson Agonistes (1671); George Gordon, Lord Byron’s Manfred (1817); Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Cenci (1819); Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes (1841); and W. H. Auden’s The Sea and the Mirror (1944) and For the Time Being (1944).