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message 1: by Eric (last edited Nov 30, 2015 06:57AM) (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
I apologize if I'm wrong, but I may be the only person in the BOTN forum who regularly reads play. Why?

Reasons to read plays:

1) Many plays are part of the "literary canon". From the Greeks, to Shakepeare, to Shaw, to Eugene O'Neill and beyond, they represent some of the finest literature humanity has produced.

2) They "stretch" you. Some people say, "I can't read plays." Yes you can. It's just flexing different mental muscles to do so. A lot of people have been stretching themselves by reading graphic novels.

3). They're short. Many folks complain about long book, 700 pages or more, being daunting. Maybe that's because the time spent on them throws off their yearly "book count". Offset that with some plays! They are usually 100 pages, more or less (usually less).

4) People say cool shit in them. Most of the wittiest, pithiest sayings in the English language come from plays. Noel Coward, Oscar Wilde, Tom Stoppard, etc.

Ann and Michael: Feel free to use this as a discussion topic on the podcast. I don't remember the subject of plays ever coming up as a full discussion topic.


message 2: by Jo Ann (new)

Jo Ann | 100 comments Eric - I do not regularly read plays, but one of my books club members is a drama teacher, and she usually choses a play for her month, which is usually July since she's out of school and has more time to prepare. I really enjoy this, as I would probably never read plays, otherwise. It's opened my eyes to the beauty of plays, and as you said, "stretched" me in doing so. Thanks for bringing this topic to light!


message 3: by Gerald (new)

Gerald Miller | 817 comments When I was a little younger I attempted to be a very amateur actor in a couple of amateur theater groups ( one was a very good group, THE WILMINGTON DRAMA LEAGUE) I knew what the play was about but never read the play only the lines that I had.


message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
I used to be that way starting out as an actor. But then I learned that you learn a lot about your character (and his relationship to the other characters) by reading the whole play.

Also, you learn about the story being told and understand your role in telling the story.

Ultimately you start directing plays, because you find you start to have specific opinions on how the story should be told.

Who knows, maybe I'll try my hand at play writing one of these days.


message 5: by Louise (last edited Nov 30, 2015 11:50PM) (new)

Louise | 279 comments I'll read them occasionally, I love Wilde and Ibsen, and have read Mrs. Warren's Profession by Shaw this year (available for free on Gutenberg.org :-) which I found very interesting.


Dioni (Bookie Mee) (dioni) | 12 comments I always love to see stage plays, but only this year started to read them: Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and Miller's Death of a Salesman. Really enjoyed them so I already queued a few more plays on my reading list. I particularly love that they're short, as you mentioned :)


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 200 comments I loved studying plays in high school but don't often read them now. Other than the old classics, where do you go to buy to read new plays now? And how do you find out about them or know which to read?


message 8: by Eric (last edited Dec 01, 2015 08:50AM) (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
There are always the Tony, Drama Desk, etc. long-lists.

Here are some playwrights to look for:

Ayad Akhtar
Samuel D. Hunter
Stephen Adly Giurgis
John Patrick Shanley
Yasmina Reza
Rebecca Gilman
Annie Baker
Lucas Hnath
Tom Stoppard
Christopher Durang
John Logan
Julia Cho
Eric Coble
Madeline George
Martin McDonagh
Donald Margulies
Gina Gionfriddo
Neil LaBute
Adam Rapp
Philip Ridley
James McManus
Sharr White
Diane Son
Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka
August Wilson
Peter Shaffer
Alan Ayckbourne
Robert Shenkaan
Michael Frayn

You can buy individual play scripts from Amazon.


message 9: by Susannah (new)

Susannah (susannah-northart) I've always enjoyed reading plays. I took courses on Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare as well as surveys of 20th Century American and British drama when I was in school. I wrote my Master's thesis on William Inge's Picnic.

More recently, I've just started a Greek drama reading project in which I'll finally (finally) be reading Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes.

The All About Books Goodreads group reads a play per quarter. This quarter they are reading The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee. I haven't read it yet, but I'll definitely finish it before the end of the month. Their selections are always thought-and-discussion provoking.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 200 comments I once had a theater professor tell me that reading plays was NOT CORRECT and the only way to "read" a play was to watch it performed. I felt chided and I admit I have been hesitant ever since. Silly, I know. But I live in a place that doesn't exactly get a lot of current theater. I felt lucky to get the chance to see Red within five years of it winning the Tony!


message 11: by Louise (new)

Louise | 279 comments That would be quite limiting for those of us living nowhere near a theater - and TV drama versions of plays are not really that big anymore :-) If I get to see 2 or 3 plays a year that's big!


message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin (mcrobus) | 254 comments Thanks for starting this post Eric. Sadly, I never thought of reading plays. But on this dark, rainy day I sit here with a cup of coffee happily reading Ibsen and Shaw. You changed my thinking and expanded my reading life. I owe you a beer at next Booktopia. Thanks also for the list of playwrights - already exploring.


message 13: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
Cool!


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