Does the word theatre mean the same as "drama" or does it only refer to the building in which we play drama?
Dictionaries are contradictory.
What do you think?
It can do. "Theatre" means more than one thing; so does "drama". When "theatre" is used to mean "theatrical writing and/or events", and when "drama" is used to mean "drama-related things and/or events", they are nearly synonymous.
For the benefit of others as well:
'drama' is an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances.
A TV news reporter, broadcasting live, might say, "...when the terrorists stormed the building. The President is expected to make an announcement as to the response of the US Government to the drama unfolding here tonight."
Plays, films - of the genre we call 'dramas' - depict such events, and also imaginary ones, for entertainment in a theatre. Some of the time, theatre takes these imaginary events to such an extreme, that we don't think it could really happen in real life - just in a film or play. We might call it 'escapist entertainment ' or 'pure theatre' (because it couldn't really happen - only in a play/film in a theatre.)
But then - when real life dramatic events do happen that seem incredible, as if, "this is the kind of thing that only happens in films" - (perhaps the O.J. Simpson chase with police cars wailing in pursuit is a mild example) - then we might describe it as, "What we are witnessing, this incredible series of events this evening, is pure theatre."
That is, so dramatic, yet at the same time rather comical, and so seemingly far from even the customary dramatic/comically stupid events of real life, that we regard it as only possible in a scriptwriter's/playwrite's mind, and refer to these incredible events as 'theatre'.
(The film "Dog Day Afternoon", about a bungled bank robbery, is actually based on real life events!!)