Which Ten Contemporary Plays Should I Read And Why?


4 Answers

Bil Nutt Profile
Bil Nutt answered
An admittedly personal list, skewed by those plays that I've actually read/seen

THE HISTORY BOYS - Best play I've seen in a few years. It deals with the appropriate purpose of education, as well as the complex relationships between a teacher and students.

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LENANE - Life in an out-of-the-way Irish village, with a gargoyle of a mother, a repressed daughter, and the brothers whose lives intersect with them. This shows how you can make a powerful play with seemingly mundane characters.

AMADDEUS - Where does genius come from? God? Does it just happen? Even if you don't know much about Mozart, you come to learn a great deal about how mediocrity can be jealous of talent.

THE REAL THING - Tremendous verbal wordplay. It shows how language can be an effective tool.

'NIGHT, MOTHER - A middle-aged woman announces that she will kill herself in 90 minutes, and her mother spends that time convincing her not to do it. Harrowing, moving - and ultimately cruel. But it's a theatrical experience unlike any other.

HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE - Another "cheery" theme - sexual abuse of a young person, and how that person learns to cope.

WIT - Living - and dying - with cancer. It touches almost everyone, but this play deals iwth it from the inside.

DANCING AT LUGHNASA - What is it about the Irish that they write such literate and effective plays? This one can be funny and moving in turns. I would LOVE to do the part of the narrator some day, if for no other reason than to read his opening and closing monologues.

FENCES (and THE PIANO LESSON and TWO TRAINS RUNNING and just about every other August Wilson play) - I'm not black, but these plays delineate the black experience in a way that I can appreciate, at the same creating specific nad believable characters.

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC? (or UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS) - wise and funny plays about women (with and without men), written by the late great Wendy Wasserstein.

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS - On one level it's a mystery. On another level, it's almost an update of DEATH OF A SALESMAN - although most of the characters do NOT get any insights into themselves. This is what it means to work in America. It's funny, it's profane, and it's unfortgettable.

Yes, it's 11 (plus). Sorry!
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
1 - Harold Pinter "The Caretaker"
2 - Samuel Beckett "Endgame" or "Waiting for Godot"
3 - Philip Ridley "The Pitchfork Disney"
4 - Sarah Kane "Blasted" or "Crave"
5 - Mark Ravenhill "The Cut"
6 - Anthony Neilson "Penetrator"
7 - Patrick Marber "Closer"
8 - April de Angelis "Playhouse Creatures"
9 - Martin Mcdonagh "The Pillowman" (This is excellent, also watch the film "In Bruges" with Colin Farrell in)
10 - Michael Henry Brown "Generations of the Dead in the Abyss of Coney Island Madness" (Only if you can handle racial issues)
Mark Westbrook Profile
Mark Westbrook answered
Like other answers I have given of this type, it is impossible to choose ten and not a thousand. However, in order to encourage you to read more, I will suggest some.

Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, shifting Tolstoy's famous heroine to Latin America and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Oleanna by David Mamet, caused huge controversy when it was first produced, man against woman, student vs. teacher, the very nature of intention, action, interpretation are questioned here. Further, the essence of higher education is explored.

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter, one his finest examples of the theatre of menace.

Equus (currently starring a naked Harry Potter actor) is a shocking and spell binding British classic.

Bent by Martin Sherman looks at the treatment of homosexuals in pre-War Germany. You can't be serious about drama without reading this.

Neil Labutes 'The Shape of Things', David Greig's 'The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union', Martin McDonagh's 'The Lieutenant of Inishmore', Ensler's The Vagina Monologues and Zinnie Harris's Further than the Furthest Thing are all necessary reading.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
1-The Birthday Party-Harold Pinter

2- The Caucasian Chalk Circle-Bertolt Brecht

3- 4.48 psychosis- Sarah Kane

4- Cleansed-Sarah Kane

5- Celebration-Harold Pinter

6-Rhinoceros-Eugene Ionesco

7-Pyrenees-David Greig

8- Gagarin Way-Gregory Burke

9-The History Boys-Alan Bennett

10-A Resounding Tinkle-Norman Fredrick Simpson

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