2.1 Amadeus as a historical drama
Amadeus reconstructs personages, events, as well as the spirit of the late 18th century. Although its underlying themes are universal, it is not a parallel to contemporary events. Moreover, the action covers a period of more than thirty years. Historical dramas often depict "an age when two cultures are in conflict, one dying and the other being born" (Thrall and Hibbard, 223). From this point of view, the play can be classified as a historical drama.
Yet, Amadeus is not an objective representation of history. Shaffer merely uses historical personalities, places, and events, in order to depict a psychological situation that can arise in any century, as, in fact, it does in his other plays. Therefore, he does not stick slavishly to the acknowledged facts about Mozart, although he claims to have spent three years reading all of the available literature on the composer's life. On the contrary, he reserves the right to "the grand licence of the storyteller to embellish his tale with fictional ornament" (Shaffer 1993, 110), and he describes Amadeus as "a fantasia on events in Mozart's life" (Gianakaris 1985, 90). Like many playwrights before him, Shaffer used historical figures for dramatic purposes. Despite this, he "rarely chose to exert his poetic license on the material and tried to maintain historical accuracy" (Plunka, 179).