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If you have housemates or a romantic partner, you might (unfortunately) encounter what we call "drama" (n.):

A way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events. Typically "drama" is used by people who are chronically bored or those who seek attention. People who engage in "drama" will usually attempt to drag other people into their dramatic state, as a way of gaining attention or making their own lives more exciting.

Examples:

Every day I come home to some drama.
I'm sick of all this drama.

I was discussing my situation with my teacher the other day, and I struggled to express the notion of "drama" in Chinese. Since it's colloquial, it doesn't translate directly: 戏剧: drama / play / theater. The closest I found online is 戏精 ("drama queen") and 加戏 ("add drama"). However, these feel translated, so I'm not sure if they're any good.

Question: How do I express the notion of "drama" in Chinese?

I'm looking for a way to express this in Chinese that's understandable to Chinese people. I'm guessing if I use 加戏, whoever I'm talking to won't understand.

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There are different kinds of drama, for example, 悬疑剧, 推理剧, 感情剧, 伦理剧. What you wanted to express is a specific kind of drama --

活剧 - Live drama

诙谐有趣而类似戏剧情节的真实事件 - humorous and interesting real events that resemble drama plots

~

闹剧 - Farce

  1. 一种喜剧; 2. 比喻滑稽夸张的事情 - 1. a comedy; 2. a metaphor of comically exaggerated event
  • Every day I come home to some drama. - 天天在家等着我的是一场又一场的活剧

  • I'm sick of all this drama. - 我再也受不了这些没完没了的闹剧

  • 川普的整个总统任期就是一场活剧/闹剧- Trump’s entire presidency is a live drama/farce

Side note:

In Cantonese, there's a term 六國大封相 (an extravagant Chinese Opera title - a metaphor of chaotic, confrontational, or even violent scene). It may be a suitable choice in some contexts. Example: 成日六國大封相 (huge drama all day and every day)

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  • Additionally, one may use 戏精 to describe those who like to overreact and act. But it’s an Internet term and is not widely acknowledged in formal uses. Jan 11 at 13:55
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    I don't think 活剧 is an active word in Mandarin, so as mentioned in zdic.net/hans/%E6%B4%BB%E5%89%A7. If it is an active word in Cantonese could you please mention it? Thanks!
    – River
    Jan 11 at 22:08
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    @River it is listed in 教育部國語詞典重編本 So, it is Mandarin (Taiwan)
    – Tang Ho
    Jan 11 at 22:13
  • @TangHo Thanks! I learned something today.
    – River
    Jan 11 at 22:16
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    @River Maybe 活剧 is used in Taiwan, but as a Mainlander I've never heard of it.
    – Betty
    Jan 12 at 2:59
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戏剧or话剧or闹剧,not 活剧 , the top comment is wrong . I think what you want is 闹剧.

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We don't have such concept in Chinese. In this case, we would probably just say 演戏 or just 装. E. g. 她总在我面前演戏。 or 她总在我面前装。

The sentence can be used when someone tries to act differently to achieve some dramatic effect.

Anyways, not sure if this can fulfill your needs.

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[this answer is based on my own experience as a native Mandarin Chinese speaker who lives in the urban area in Southern China, is rather young, and is online a lot. Please consider this as it relates to my perception of the language when reading my answer.]

I actually can't think of a good colloquial equivalent of drama. But 戲精/戏精 and 加戲/加戏 are perfectly legit words; they started as internet slangs and I won't perceive them as "translated". They're indeed a bit slangy, but I think you'll be understood, especially by the younger part of the demography [you can say someone is 给自己加戏 lit. adding drama to oneself, or that someone is a 戏精 (= drama queen), which seems fitting for the scenario that you provide].

鬧劇/闹剧, as suggested by other answers, is a good expression. It doesn't sound very colloquial to me, but you can use it in everyday speech just fine.

e.g. 真是一场闹剧! What a mess! / What a dumpster fire!

But (to me at least), it does not convey the exact same meaning as drama, but more like a terrible, chaotic event that everyone seemed to be involved where one thing happens after another, everything goes to hell and no one is happy about it.

In fact, the English word itself is used a lot on the internet. You can sometimes see people transliterate it as 抓馬/抓马. Thus, if you just say drama, people will have a chance to understand you.

EDIT: Wayne Cheah describes drama as having "...the quality of being arresting with false emotional theatrics", which reminds me of an actually pretty close Chinese idiom called 無理取鬧/无理取闹. Wiktionary defines it as

to make a fuss out of nothing; to throw a tantrum without reason; to be deliberately provocative

which sounds about right. Again, it's not exactly the meaning, but the vibe is close. This word is commonly used colloquially. You can say 别再无理取闹了 / stop the drama, or 他总是无理取闹 / he's always looking for a chance to throw a tantrum.

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  • 闹剧 is like the English word "farce" which fits your description of "a terrible, chaotic event that everyone seemed to be involved where one thing happens after another, everything goes to hell and no one is happy about it", and in fact "farce" is actually defined as "a comedy characterized by broad satire and improbable situations" So, is 闹剧 what we understand as "drama", in the "non-theatrical" sense that OP is looking for? Depends on who you ask I suppose. I'll stick to my "...the quality of being arresting with false emotional theatrics" Now find a Chinese word that fit that description. Jan 11 at 14:07
  • @WayneCheah thanks! your comment actually makes me think of a good word for drama. I'll edit it in in a minute. Jan 11 at 15:54
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Quote:- "A way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events"

In other words, nothing to do with "Drama" as such, (meaning "a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage"}, but rather "drama" in the sense of "the quality of being arresting with false emotional theatrics"

If so, then I would opine the use of 做戏, (Zuò xì), translated as "putting on an act" for the purposes of gaining some situational advantages or perpetrate some trickery whether benign or malicious.

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  • 做戏 implies deceiving, doesn't quite match what the OP stated. Not to mention it is strictly a verb
    – Tang Ho
    Jan 11 at 9:50
  • OP said by way of examples --- "Every day I come home to some drama", "I'm sick of all this drama" In other words, all the daily "drama" is fake, "false acting", meant to deceive the intended "audience" into thinking or believing a certain dramatic state of affairs exist. Jan 11 at 12:12
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As a native Chinese person, I think 没事找事 is a good expression in such case. If you tell me someone always 没事找事, I would interpret it as this person always try to make a fuss or generate negative drama. Another verb I think colloquially pass for me is '搞事情'. Or if you wish to pay tribute to a certain immortal elder, 搞个大新闻.

e.g.

他 整天 没事找事。

别 跟我 搞事情 啊。

你们 别 整天 就想着 搞个 大新闻 把我 批判 一番

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