From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The well-made play (from the French: pièce bien faite) is a genre of theatre from the nineteenth century, which Eugène Scribe first codified and is thought to have created and which Victorien Sardou developed. By the mid-nineteenth century, it had entered into common use as a derogatory term. This did not prevent Henrik Ibsen and the other realistic dramatists of the later nineteenth century (August Strindberg, Gerhart Hauptmann, Émile Zola, Anton Chekhov) employing its technique of careful construction and preparation of effects. "Through their example", Marvin Carlson explains, "the well-made play became and still remains the traditional model of play construction."
In the English language, that tradition found its early twentieth-century codification in Britain in the form of William Archer's Play-Making: A Manual of Craftmanship (1912), and in the United States with George Pierce Baker's Dramatic Technique (1919).