Dramatic Plays

Originating in ancient Greece, the dramatic play is an enduring form of literature intended to be performed in front of an audience. Our Dramatic Plays Collection features a selection of works that exemplify the genre and its wide-ranging interpretations from ancient times to the present, including the dramatic monologue and choreopoem.

Publication year 1970Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, Italian Literature

Accidental Death of an Anarchist was first written and produced by playwright and actor Dario Fo in Italy, 1970. The script was directly inspired by the events surrounding the 1969 Piazza Fontana Bombing, and much of Fo’s work revolves around political satire directed at Italy post-World War II and later. Exemplifying Fo’s work as a writer, Accidental Death of an Anarchist combines the humor, irony, and satire of the old Italian tradition of commedia dell’arte... Read Accidental Death Of An Anarchist Summary

Publication year 1989Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: War, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Military / War, Play: Drama, Crime / Legal, Social Justice, Politics / Government

A Few Good Men is a play written by Aaron Sorkin and first performed in 1989. The story involves a military lawyer who defends two Marines accused of murder. The play was well-received, and Sorkin adapted it into a screenplay for the film of the same name (released in 1992), which was a popular and critical success.Plot SummaryA Few Good Men opens as two Marines, Downey and Dawson, recall the details of a nighttime incident... Read A Few Good Men Summary

Publication year 1602Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Gender, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Classic Fiction, Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, British Literature

All’s Well That Ends Well is a play by William Shakespeare (1582-1616), one of the most influential writers in the English language. The date of composition is not known, but All’s Well That Ends Well was first performed between 1598 and 1608. It was published in 1623, in the First Folio. Shakespeare’s work is part of Early Modern English literature, alongside playwrights like Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe, during which time the play and theater... Read All's Well That Ends Well Summary

Publication year 1960Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Play: Drama, Play: Historical

A Man for All Seasons is a 1960 play by English playwright Robert Bolt. Though it was published in its completed form in 1960, it was originally written for radio in 1954. It was then adapted for television in 1957 before finally being rewritten for the stage. The original runs of the show in London and later New York attained critical and commercial success. In 1966, the play was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film... Read A Man For All Seasons Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Play: Drama, American Literature, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Drama / Tragedy

American Buffalo is a 1975 off-Broadway play written by American playwright David Mamet. It first premiered in Chicago’s Goodman Theater in 1975, reaching Broadway in 1977. Along with two other plays, The Duck Variations (1971) and Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974), American Buffalo established Mamet as a reputable writer. The play explores friendship and greed among the working classes. The 1976 publication from Grove Press (New York) serves as the basis for this guide.The play... Read American Buffalo Summary

Publication year 1882Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: CommunityTags Play: Drama, Classic Fiction, Scandinavian Literature

IntroductionHenrik Ibsen, a well-known Norwegian playwright who is often lauded as the founder of modern drama, wrote An Enemy of the People in 1882. It is an example of Ibsen’s starkly realist, late-career style. Ibsen’s works were very popular throughout his life, but often drew criticism due to their frank discussion of political and social problems in 19th-century Norwegian society. Two years prior he had released the most controversial work of his career, Ghosts, which... Read An Enemy of the People Summary

Publication year 1993Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Mental Health, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Play: Drama, LGBTQ, History: U.S.

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by the American playwright Tony Kushner is an epic story that spans two plays – Millennium Approaches, first produced in 1991, and Perestroika, which debuted in 1992. The entire two-part work premiered on Broadway in 1993. Angels in America is Kushner’s most well-known work and is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most significant American plays of the 20th century. Angels in America... Read Angels in America Summary

Publication year 1945Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Drama, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, British Literature

An Inspector Calls is a three-act play written by J. B. Priestley, first performed in 1947. In the play, an inspector questions a wealthy family about the death of a young woman who worked at the family’s factory. An Inspector Calls first premiered in Moscow in 1945 before showing in England. The play has been adapted for film, television, and radio, and a 1992 stage revival won a Laurence Olivier Award, a Drama Desk Award... Read An Inspector Calls Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Gender, Identity: Race, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Drama, Race / Racism, Satire

Publication year 1987Genre Play, FictionTags Play: Drama, Play: Postcolonial, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Published in 1970, Ama Ata Aidoo’s play Anowa tells the gripping story of its title character, who serves as an allegory for Africa itself. No stranger to Africa’s political and societal turmoil, Aidoo, a Ghanaian playwright, uses Anowa to interrogate the relationships between men and women, husbands and wives, women and motherhood, mothers and daughters, society and the individuals comprising it, and the future encroaching on ancient traditions.  Anowa opens in the 1870s in the Ghanaian... Read Anowa Summary

Publication year -1Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: FateTags Classic Fiction, Ancient Greece, Mythology, Play: Drama, Play: Tragedy

Sophocles, one of the three great ancient Greek tragedians, premiered Antigone in Athens circa 441 BCE. The Classical Greek theater tradition to which this play belongs began in Athens in the sixth century B.C.E. with the performance of plays in dramatic competitions at yearly religious festivals. The forms of comedy and tragedy, first developed in plays such as Antigone, have lasting influence on theater today. This study guide uses the 2003 Oxford University Press edition... Read Antigone Summary

Publication year 1991Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Identity: Gender, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction

A Thousand Acres is a historical fiction novel by the American author Jane Smiley. Taking place on an Iowa farm in the 1970s, the novel is a contemporary retelling of William Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear. Shakespeare’s play focuses on King Lear as he determines which of his three daughters will inherit his kingdom depending on how much they flatter him. Smiley’s novel reimagines Shakespeare’s tragedy on an Iowa farm in the 1970s as Larry Cook... Read A Thousand Acres Summary

Publication year 1955Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Immigration, Identity: Masculinity, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Play: Drama, Play: Tragedy, Drama / Tragedy

A View from the Bridge is a two-act play by American playwright Arthur Miller. Originally staged as a one-act on Broadway in 1955, Miller expanded the play to two acts and re-debuted the final version in London in 1956. Ten major revivals have been staged in New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, London, and Manchester since then. The play has received drama awards, including multiple Tonys, and has been adapted as feature films, TV movies, and... Read A View from the Bridge Summary

Publication year 1932Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Relationships: MarriageTags Play: Tragedy, Play: Drama, Latin American Literature, Drama / Tragedy, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Blood Wedding, a Spanish rural tragedy, was written by Federico Garcia Lorca in 1932 while he was director of the travelling theater company Teatro Universitario La Barraca. The play was first performed at Teatro Beatriz in Madrid in 1933 under the title Bodas de Sangre. It ran briefly in America on Broadway in 1935, where it was retitled Bitter Oleander. It was not well received; the passions and folkloric culture in the play were too... Read Blood Wedding Summary

Publication year 1984Genre Play, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: SiblingsTags Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Love / Sexuality, Great Depression, WWII / World War II, Poverty, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality

Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play by American playwright Neil Simon. It is the first play in Simon’s Eugene Trilogy and follows its young protagonist as he grapples with adolescence and identity in the midst of the Great Depression. Its initial 1983 Broadway run enjoyed critical acclaim and won several awards. Most notably, actor Matthew Broderick won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for originating the role of Eugene. Despite its initial success... Read Brighton Beach Memoirs Summary

Publication year 1898Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Society: War, Life/Time: Aging, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: Colonialism, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Politics / Government, Play: Drama

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags French Literature, Philosophy, Play: Drama, Existentialism, Absurdism

Publication year 1955Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Sexuality, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: Femininity, Identity: MasculinityTags Southern Gothic, Play: Drama, Classic Fiction

First performed in 1955, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of American playwright Tennessee Williams’s best-known works. This classic play won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best American Play, and was adapted into a 1958 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. Adapted from Williams’s short story “Three Players of a Summer Game,” the three-act Cat on a Hot Tin Roof occurs in real-time as the Pollitt family gathers... Read Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Identity: DisabilityTags Play: Drama, Relationships, Disability, Drama / Tragedy, Poverty

Cost of Living, a play by Martyna Majok, premiered in 2016 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. It transferred to an off-Broadway theatre in 2017, produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, and is slated to debut on Broadway in fall, 2022. The play was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and also won a 2018 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. The title of the play refers not only to the monetary costs of... Read Cost of Living Summary

Publication year 1998Genre Play, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: Race, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction, Race / Racism

Publication year 1897Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Society: War, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Classic Fiction, Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, Romance, Auto/Biographical Fiction, French Literature, Arts / Culture, Love / Sexuality, Grief / Death, Finance / Money / Wealth

Cyrano de Bergerac: An Heroic Comedy in Five Acts by Edmond Rostand was originally published in 1898. Rostand was a popular poet and playwright in France during his lifetime. Cyrano de Bergerac is a five-act verse drama—a tragic romance, set in France in the mid-1600s. It was far more popular than all of Rostand’s other works and has been performed and adapted countless times since its initial successful run.Cyrano de Bergerac explores themes of Unrequited... Read Cyrano de Bergerac Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Play: Tragedy, Play: Drama, African Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism, WWII / World War II

Premiering in 1975, Death and the King’s Horseman is a play written by Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. The play is set in Oyo, Nigeria, during World War II and tells the story of Elesin Oba, the titular king’s horseman who must die by ritual suicide after the Yoruba king dies. The colonial government stops Elesin’s suicide, but the text also suggests that Elesin, a robust man full of life, might not have fulfilled his duty even... Read Death and the King's Horseman Summary

Publication year 1949Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Identity: Masculinity, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Play: Tragedy, Play: Drama, Modern Classic Fiction, American Literature

Death of a Salesman is a play written by American playwright Arthur Miller and first performed on Broadway in 1949. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play, it is considered by critics to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. The cynical play follows the final hours of a mentally unstable salesman at the end of his career who fails to attain the American Dream... Read Death of a Salesman Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Play, FictionTags Play: Drama, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Social Justice

Doubt: A Parable is a 2005 play by John Patrick Shanley that analyzes an instance of doubt and suspicion in a Catholic school in the Bronx in the 1960s. In nine scenes, the play tells the story of principal Sister Aloysius’s suspicions about an inappropriate relationship between a priest, Father Flynn, and a young male student.The play opens with Father Flynn giving a sermon, utilizing a parable about a young sailor whose ship sinks and... Read Doubt: A Parable Summary

Publication year 458Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Identity: GenderTags Ancient Greece, Drama / Tragedy, Play: Drama, Philosophy, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Eumenides is an Attic tragedy by the playwright Aeschylus (circa 525/4-circa 456/5 BCE). Eumenides was the final part of the Oresteia, a tragic trilogy first produced for the City Dionysia in 458 BCE. The Oresteia describes the murder of Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra and the aftermath of this act; in Eumenides, Orestes—the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra—must undergo a trial to be purified of the blood of his mother, whom he murdered to avenge... Read Eumenides Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Play: Drama, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Grief / Death, Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, American Literature

Everybody, a one-act play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, premiered Off-Broadway in 2017 at the Signature Theatre and was first published in 2018. It is a modern retelling of Everyman, the most well-known and anthologized example of a medieval morality play, which was adapted from a Dutch play by an anonymous 15th century English writer. Morality plays first appeared in the 12th century, evolving from the Catholic Church’s cycle plays and liturgical dramas, which reenacted biblical scenes... Read Everybody Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Relationships: Friendship, Identity: GenderTags Play: Drama, Gender / Feminism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Disability, LGBTQ, Modernism

Fefu and her Friends is a play by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornés. It premiered in 1977 at the Relativity Media Lab, a small venue on New York’s Lower East Side. Set in 1935 New England, the play concerns a group of women who knew one another in college and gather for a reunion as adults. Within six months, Fefu was produced off-Broadway at the American Place Theatre, earning Fornés her second Obie Award... Read Fefu and Her Friends Summary

Publication year 1994Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Relationships: Family, Identity: GenderTags Play: Drama, Play: Historical, Race / Racism, Gender / Feminism

Publication year 1975Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Femininity, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Play: Drama, Gender / Feminism, Race / Racism

A choreopoem is a work of art that combines dance, music, and poetry. Because the medium focuses as much on nonverbal communication as the written word, choreopoems are performance pieces. Ntozake Shange originated this format in 1974, when for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf debuted in San Francisco, California. Later, the choreopoem made its Broadway debut in December 1976, a move that Shange describes as “either too big for... Read For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf Summary

Publication year 2003Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction

Publication year 1881Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: FemininityTags Play: Drama, Psychological Fiction, Scandinavian Literature, Realism, Victorian Period, Drama / Tragedy, Health / Medicine, Religion / Spirituality, Finance / Money / Wealth, Love / Sexuality

The play Ghosts (1881) by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen chronicles the complicated relationship between Helen Alving and her son, Oswald. Ghosts documents a day in the life at the Alving estate as Helen prepares to open an orphanage in honor of her late husband. A three-act play, Ghosts explores the complex social issues of sexually transmitted infections, incest, and euthanasia—topics that made the play highly controversial when it was first produced. Ghosts followed the success... Read Ghosts Summary

Publication year 1983Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: Masculinity, Society: Economics, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Play: Drama, Play: Comedy / Satire, American Literature

The “coffee is for closers” line is considered one of the most iconic moments from playwright David Mamet’s entire oeuvre (Glengarry Glen Ross. Directed by James Foley, New Line Cinema, 1992). However, the line is actually nowhere to be found in the playscript for Glengarry Glenn Ross, which premiered at the National Theatre in London in 1983 and debuted on Broadway in 1984. Rather, it appears in the 1992 film adaptation, with a screenplay that... Read Glengarry Glen Ross Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Fantasy, Play: Drama, Action / Adventure, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) is a two-part play written by Jack Thorne, based on an original story collaboratively created by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Thorne himself. Set in the universe of the Harry Potter books penned by J. K. Rowling, the play follows events occurring 19 years after the epilogue of the seventh book; the story revolves around Albus Potter, the second son and middle child of Harry Potter, and... Read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Summary

Publication year 1890Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Identity: FemininityTags Play: Drama, Scandinavian Literature

Hedda Gabler is an 1891 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. It is widely considered one of the most accomplished plays of the 19th century. Ibsen was a prolific and highly acclaimed writer who penned over two dozen plays. Many of his most famous works focus on the challenging relationships between family members and the quiet tragedies of ordinary life. Hedda Gabler is one of the most complex, challenging, and sought-after roles in theater. Many... Read Hedda Gabler Summary

Publication year 1597Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Classic Fiction, Elizabethan Era, British Literature, Play: Historical, Play: Drama

Henry IV, Part 1 is the second play in English playwright William Shakespeare’s Henriad tetralogy, preceded by Richard II. The play was written sometime prior to 1597, and it was a hit with critics and audiences. Henry IV, Part 1 introduces Sir John Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s most enduringly popular characters, who also appears in Henry IV, Part 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The play follows the wayward Prince Hal, the son of... Read Henry IV, Part 1 Summary

Publication year 1599Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Nation, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: WarTags Classic Fiction, British Literature, Historical Fiction, Play: Drama

Henry V is a play by English playwright William Shakespeare, believed to have premiered in 1599. It is best preserved in the 1623 publication of Shakespeare’s work known as the First Folio. Shakespeare’s surviving work includes 10 history plays focusing on the history and kings of England 1399-1485 and based on actual events. Henry V is the fifth of these chronologically and focuses on King Henry V of England, specifically on the events surrounding the... Read Henry V Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Language, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Relationships: Teams, Society: Immigration, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Jewish Literature, Gender / Feminism

Publication year 1955Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction, Science / Nature, Religion / Spirituality

Inherit the Wind is a 1955 play by American playwrights Jerome Lawrence (1915-2004) and Robert E. Lee (1918-1994). It is based on the 1925 Scopes trial, where schoolteacher John T. Scopes was put on trial for teaching the theory of evolution at a time when doing so was illegal. Although Inherit the Wind draws from the events of the Scopes trial, it deviates significantly from the details of the case, as Lawrence and Lee were... Read Inherit the Wind Summary

Publication year 1924Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: War, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Play: Drama, Class, Irish Literature, Realism

Irish-born playwright Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock was first produced in 1924 at the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre, in Dublin. This Realistic play is one of three plays (known as the “Dublin Trilogy”) that O’Casey wrote for the Abbey Theatre. Juno and the Paycock is anthologized in various collections, including Masters of Modern Drama by Haskell Block and Robert Shedd in 1962 (which this guide references).The play is set entirely in a two-room... Read Juno and the Paycock Summary

Publication year 1985Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Race, Relationships: Family, Society: Community, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Drama, Historical Fiction, African American Literature

August Wilson’s King Hedley II premiered in 1999 and opened on Broadway in 2001. It is the ninth installment in Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle (also known as the Century Cycle), a series of 10 plays that examine the experiences of Black Americans during the 20th century. It was nominated for multiple awards including a Tony and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Wilson won two Pulitzer Prizes for other Pittsburgh Cycle plays, Fences in 1987... Read King Hedley II Summary

Publication year 1968Genre Play, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: Sexuality, Society: ClassTags Play: Drama

Les Belles-Soeurs, or The Sisters-in-Law, was written in 1965 and premiered at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montreal in 1968. Although it was Canadian playwright Michel Tremblay’s first major play, Les Belles-Soeurs revolutionized Canadian drama as the first professionally produced play written in joual, the vernacular dialect of the Québécois working class. During the 1960s, in an era known as the Quiet Revolution, joual became politicized as a symbol of the oppressed proletariat, while... Read Les Belles Soeurs Summary

Publication year 1956Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: Community, Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: MidlifeTags Play: Drama, Play: Tragedy, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Addiction / Substance Abuse

Long Day’s Journey into Night is widely considered Eugene O’Neill’s best play. It was published posthumously under the pseudonym Tyrone and is an autobiographical work about O’Neill’s family. The play was originally published in 1956 with a first showing in Sweden that same year. The play has been adapted into film several times, including productions in 1962 and 1996, as well as television adaptations in 1973, 1982, and 1987. O’Neill was awarded the Nobel Prize... Read Long Day's Journey Into Night Summary

Publication year 1991Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: War, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Play: Drama

Lost in Yonkers is a play by American playwright Neil Simon that premiered in 1991. It centers around Jay Kurnitz, a teenage boy sent with his younger brother, Arty, to live with his grandmother in Yonkers. Many critics consider the play, which debuted to overwhelming critical acclaim, one of Simon’s best works. It explores themes of abbreviated childhood, war, and generational trauma. Lost in Yonkers won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama upon its release, and... Read Lost In Yonkers Summary

Publication year 1904Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: ColonialismTags Music, Play: Drama, Italian Literature, Romance

Madam Butterfly is the English adaptation of the tragic Italian opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. It opened in Milan in 1904, and the orchestral score was first published in 1906 by Giulio Ricordi. Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa wrote the libretto (text of the opera). Puccini based his opera on the play by David Belasco and story by John Luther Long, as well as the novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti. These sources, and... Read Madame Butterfly Summary

Publication year 1965Genre Play, FictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: courageTags Historical Fiction, Play: Drama, Music, Humor, Play: Historical

Man of La Mancha, by Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion, and Mitch Leigh, took the world of musical theater by storm when it premiered in 1965. This story of Miguel de Cervantes and his comic knight, Don Quixote, won five Tony Awards as well as the Drama Critics Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Variety Drama Critics Award, and the Saturday Review Award. The original production ran for over 2,000 performances and remains popular... Read Man of La Mancha Summary

Publication year 1982Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Drama, Race / Racism, African Literature

“Master Harold”…and the boys, a one-act play by South African playwright Athol Fugard, premiered on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater in 1982. The play, which is set in 1950, draws on Fugard’s own experience growing up during South Africa’s apartheid era. It explores a complex relationship between 17-year-old Hally, a white boy, and Sam and Willie, two Black men who are servants in Hally’s family’s tea room. The play was initially banned in South Africa... Read Master Harold and the Boys Summary

Publication year 1888Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Sexuality, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Play: Drama, Naturalism, Scandinavian Literature, Class

Miss Julie is a naturalistic play produced in 1888 by the Swedish playwright and novelist August Strindberg. The play follows the acute romantic entanglement of the three characters: Miss Julie, a young aristocratic woman; Jean, her father’s well-read and well-traveled valet; and Kristine, the cook. Through the psychological battle of wills between Julie and the ruthless Jean, the play explores themes of Class Conflict and Social Hierarchy, Gender Roles and Power Dynamics, and The Complexity... Read Miss Julie Summary

Publication year 1998Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: AgingTags Play: Drama, Drama / Tragedy, Depression / Suicide, Relationships

’Night, Mother by Marsha Norman opened on Broadway in 1983, earning the Tony Award for Best Play and the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play takes place in real time, with no intermission or breaks in the action, to depict the unrelenting emotional exchange between Thelma and her daughter, Jessie, after Jessie announces that she plans to commit suicide. As Jessie sets her affairs in order, Thelma tries unsuccessfully to stop Jessie’s plan from... Read Night, Mother Summary

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Existentialism, Play: Drama, French Literature, Philosophy, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Relationships

No Exit (1944) is a play by French philosopher, writer, and critic Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was drafted into the French army during World War II and spent nearly a year as a German prisoner of war. He then wrote and debuted No Exit in Paris while the city was still under German occupation and control. No Exit is comprised of one act which takes place in a single room in the afterlife, which the characters... Read No Exit Summary

Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Midlife, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: FateTags Romance, Play: Drama, British Literature