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Saturday, April 3, 2010

a list about plays (post 1950)

The general perception is good plays stopped being written. That all the plays being performed which remain popular are classics and there is no place for the playwright in the current dramatic world. The role of the playwright has been diminished but good plays have not become extinct in the 20th and 21st century.This list will attempt to reflect that by giving a selection of excellent plays written (and performed) after 1950.

20.Prelude to a Kiss- Craig Lucas. Premiered in California in 1988.

Quick Description: Thought to be a metaphor for AIDS. A story about the switching of bodies between a new bride and an old man and how the husband must find the old man while keeping his love alive. Something of a Sci-fi style and one of the most original works in recent times.


19. Long Day's Journey Into Night - Eugene O'Neill.premiered in Stockholm at the Royal Dramatic theatre in 1956.

quick summary: A play about addiction and how it affects everyone around the addict.The characters all move in cycles of conflict which only fleetingly break for attempts at real human interaction which are ultimeitely thwarted agin by addiction.


18. Dream on Monkey Mountain - Derek Walcott. Premiered in Trinidad in 1967

quick summary: A local one, where a prison escapee becomes a religious leader. rooted in the customs of the Caribbean and embracing the Caribbean dialect, it is one of the few plays that Caribbean nationals can strongly relate to their own lives.

17.Rhinoceros -Eugene Ionesco .Premiered in Paris in 1959

quick summary: A play where all the inhabitants of a small town turn in to rhinos. A response to the emergence of fascism, communism and Nazism. It explores th importance of culture, morality and philosophy.

16.Arcadia - Tom Stoppard. Premiered in London at the Royal National theatre in 1993.

quick summary: Has several elements of a drama but dialogue of a comedy. An exploration in the evidence of truth about several subjects and how the past is interpreted by scholars.

15. Betrayal- Harold Pinter. Premiered in London at the Royal National theatre in 1978.

quick summary: Features the self absorption the characters in their own self deceptions and their need to save face. The emotions of the characters, as usual in a Pinter play, remained hidden and conflicting.

14. Closer -Patrick Marber. Premiered in London at The Royal National Theatre's Cottesloe Threatre in 1997.

quick description : Most people know about this play from the 2004 movie of the same name. A forceful play which has both modern and post-modern concepts. It addresses the fragmented and illusionary nature of relationships during the 1990's. Also shows how truth is defined by the willingness of a person to relate to it.


13.Doubt: A Parable - John Patrick Shanley .Premiered on Broadway in 2005.

quick summary: A play about (perceived) sexual abuse by clergymen, a very relevant topic currently. What the play really shows is that without actual tangible evidence how importance are perception and certainty and what level of doubt affects judgement.


12.Anna in the Tropics - Nilo Cruz.Premiered in Florida at the New theater in 2003.

quick summary: The changes brought by the new lector in a cigar rolling factory and it's impact on the lives of the workers. Also shows the effect that mechanization had on the lives of such workers and the effect of novels on real life.

11.The Elephant man -Bernard Pomerance. Premiered in New York at Booth Theater in 1979.

Quick Description: A description of the human condition and what makes humanity.The Elephant man is still human even though his features make it hard to discern him from a monster. Shows the importance of mob mentality and perception.



10. The Miracle Worker- William Gibson. premiered in London at the Playhouse Theater in 1957.

quick summary: The early life of Helen Keller and how she learned to read and communicate with the help of her governess. Shows an incredible dynamic between the governess and Keller .

9. Equus- Peter Shaffer.Premiered in London at the Royal National Theatre in 1973.

quick summary: still performed up to 2010. A completely original story of a psychiatrist who has to treat who has a pathological/sexual attraction to horses. Filled with religious themes as well as the conflict between social acceptance and personal wishes.




8.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - Tom Stoppard.Premiered in Edinburgh at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966.

quick description: An absurdist tragicomedy with existential themes. Major themes include the search for value, the impossibility of knowing for certain and the debate between free will vs fate. Art vs. reality also play as major part.


7.Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams.Premiered in Ney York at the Morosco Theater in 1955.

Quick description: An entire play about lying or mendacity as it is used in the play. An allegory about homosexuality in the Southern US . It also tries to show the decay of Southern culture and the complicated rules of life in the South.

6. A Raisin in the Sun- Lorraine Hansberry. Premiered on Broadway in 1959.

Quick Description: Something most people read for Literature in school. First play written by a black woman to be performed on Broadway. Shows a look into life of an African-American family during the early part of the century as well as the importance of family and one's own home.

5. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? -Edward Franklin Albee. Premiered on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theatre in 1962.

Quick Description: Marriage is horrible. This play makes that evident. Strong arguments and forceful dialogue, hidden as 'games' characterize this play of two couples who spend time together after a dinner party.Both the younger and older couple seem to be buried under problems.

4. A Man for All Seasons - Robert Bolt. premiered in London at the Globe Theater in 1960.

Quick Description : Another work set in the time of Henry VII. Tells the story of Sir Thomas More and how he refused to relinquish his religious principles even under the immense pressure of the king.

3.The Crucible -Arthur Miller. Premiered in New York at The Martin Beck Theatre in 1953.

Quick description: A significant work in the field of American drama. Written as a criticism of McCarthyism for which it uses the Salem witch hunts as an allegory.Regularly studied in schools to this day it ushered in a revolutionary new style of theater in the US and showed the power which drama had in it's ability to challenge the government.

2.Glengarry Glen Ross- David Mamet.Premiered in London at the National Theater in 1982.

Quick Description: A play about real estate agents who are willing to do anything to get their places sold.Including bribe, threaten,lie and burgle. The modern definition of a play that shows how ensemble acting should be done, as well as giving a dark outlook on something as dull as real estate.

1.Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett. Premiered in Paris at Théâtre de Babylone in 1953.

Quick Description : One of the most famous plays of the last century. Because of the simplistic nature of the play (which has 2 acts and only 5 characters) there have been many interpretations of the meaning of the play. While author insisted that it was not an allegory for anything; religious, philosophical, biographical, classical and psychological references have been attributed to it.

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