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Must See/Read Plays


A play is a form of literature that is usually intended to be performed upon the stage. Even if don't have the opportunity to see the greatest plays of all time performed upon the stage by a talented troupe (a group of theatrical performers), these plays are important works in literature. This list represents just a few of the plays throughout history with which you should be familiar.

1. A Doll's House - Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, was published in 1879. The play delves into the realm of realism, with Ibsen's concern for women's rights. The play has been compared with Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening.

2. A Raisin in the Sun - Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry.

3. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire is a famous and controversial play by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983). Written in 1951, A Streetcar Named Desire features rape and the descent of a woman into insanity. Blanche Dubois relies on "the kindness of strangers," only to find herself taken away at the end. She's no longer a young girl; and she has no hope. She represents some bit of the Old South fading away. The magic is gone. All that's left is brutal, ugly reality.

4. Arcadia - Tom Stoppard

Arcadia is one of the most amazing modern plays, if not (as I believe) one of the greatest plays of all time. Written by Tom Stoppard, the play carries us back and forth through time, as we discover something about history, literature, and more than just a little bit about ourselves.

5. Arsenic and Old Lace

Arsenic and Old Lace is a play by Joseph Kesselring.

6. Dr. Faustus - Christopher Marlowe

Dr. Faustus is a Renaissance drama by Christopher Marlowe.

7. Long Day's Journey Into Night - Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill received the Pulitzer Prize for Long Day's Journey Into Night, which is has been considered one of his most important works.

8. Medea - Euripides

Medea is one of the most horrific plays in history, even though it comes to us from the ancient Greek dramatist, Euripides. Medea was first produced in 431 BC. The protagonist is Medea, a woman scorned, who revenges herself on Jason (her former husband) in the most sickening manner imaginable.

9. Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King)

Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) is a famous Greek tragedy by the dramatist, Sophocles. Oedipus is fated to murder his father and marry his mother. He attempts to run away from the awful prophecy, but he only succeeds in hastening his own downfall.

10. Six Characters in Search of an Author - Luigi Pirandello

Six Characters in Search of an Author is a play by Luigi Pirandello, Italian playwright. In the midst of a rehearsal, six characters arrive on stage and demand to be put in a play (to be allowed to tell their stories). Adultery, prostitution, and suicide are all drawn out upon the stage.
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