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Drama > Summer 2016 Seasonal Theme - Plays by Nobel Laureates

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments The seasonal theme for July - September is plays by Nobel Laureates. A list of the Literature Prize winners can be found:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...

The table can be sorted by date (the default), language written in, country, genre or name. Quite a few of the Laureates who are best known for other genres also wrote plays (Seamus Heaney and Halldor Laxness for example); others were primarily playwrights (George Bernard Shaw and Luigi Pirandello for example).


message 2: by Pink (new)

Pink I had a quick look through the list, sorted to look at works of drama. I've read so little of the playwrights - no Pinter or Beckett for example and many that I haven't even heard of - Echegaray, Benavante, Fo, Hauptmann. I think I'll try to concentrate a little more on reading plays this Autumn, especially by Nobel Laureates.


message 3: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I would like to try at least one Dario Fo - I seem to recall Dhanaraj recommending one of his plays. I will have to go through my TBR.

Like you Pink, I found that there were many I had never heard of (which I find embarrassing!). Even so, I will probably start off this theme with a play I had intended for the Spring theme -- George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion!


message 4: by LauraT (last edited Jun 14, 2016 03:31AM) (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13036 comments Mod
Also Jean recomended something - look at her review of Accidental Death of an Anarchist for instance.
I wondered at the time of Fo's nobel - and still do! - if he is a writer that can be appreciated in reading, translated moreover. Dario Fo is really great when SEEN on a stage: he taks with his body. He is famous for instance for scenes in an invented language - Grammelot - that you don't need to understand to appreciate the hilarity of the scene. See for instance the "Zanni" and his hunger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfG20... (from minute 2:40)
He is a strongly commetted intellectual, left wing, and wrote and broght on stage a lot of "scandal" of the Italy mainly of the '70s and '80s. Great his sketches against the church power - see his vestion of Bonifacio VII https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw0KK... (from min. 1)
I sincerely don't think that all this can be "seen" on a written paper!
Let me know what you think of it


message 5: by katie (new)

katie | 74 comments oooo, great topic! i haven't read as many of these as I would like. Also, I have a biography of Samuel Beckett on my shelf I've been meaning to get to, so maybe I'll try to squeeze that in this summer to get even more perspective on his plays.

Thanks!


message 6: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments katie wrote: "oooo, great topic! i haven't read as many of these as I would like. Also, I have a biography of Samuel Beckett on my shelf I've been meaning to get to, so maybe I'll try to squeeze..."

Glad to hear this katie! Beckett was an interesting guy so I would love to hear what you think about his biography...


message 7: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Leslie wrote: "I would like to try at least one Dario Fo - I seem to recall Dhanaraj recommending one of his plays. I will have to go through my TBR.

Like you Pink, I found that there were many I ..."


I had read Abducting Diana. I had a great time with it. It was very humorous. And I am yet to read his 'great' plays like the one Laura mentioned.


message 8: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2 comments As a theatre major in college and freelance director, I have read a fair number of the playwrights on the the list. Some I loved others not so much (Dario Fo).Reading someone not as known for play weighting would be great.


message 9: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I started off on this theme with one that also worked for the previous theme -- George Bernard Shaw's masterpiece Pygmalion. I had read this before but it was years ago. I found both the similarities to and differences from My Fair Lady interesting.

I listened to the full cast audiobook from LibriVox, which included Shaw's Preface and notes at the end of the play - I don't think that I read this part before and it was fascinating.


message 10: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I've ordered Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays from the library, so will be starting there.


message 11: by Pink (last edited Jul 07, 2016 07:57AM) (new)

Pink This has reminded me that I have books to pick up from the library, including plays by Beckett and Soyinka.

I studied Pygmalion for an English lit course and while I really enjoyed it, I also found it slightly annoying and sexist from a modern perspective. Though I think it's the only work I've read of his.


message 12: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Gill wrote: "I've ordered Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays from the library, so will be starting there."

I really loved this play. superb play with interesting themes. I will also recommend Absolutely Perhaps.


message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Pink wrote: "This has reminded me that I have books to pick up from the library, including plays by Beckett and Soyinka.

I studied Pygmalion for an English lit course and while I really enjoyed it, I also fou..."


I believe that most of the sexism in Pygmalion was tongue-in-cheek. Although it just struck me that some of it is inherent in the Pygmalion myth that it was named after! But Shaw's notes after the play clearly indicated that Shaw envisioned Eliza as being a strong-willed, independent woman who eventually managed to run her own flower shop without Henry Higgins (though Col. Pickering helps her set it up and bails her out until she learns some business sense). If it wouldn't have made the play too long, I would have said Shaw should have included this 'ending' in another act -- it does make a difference to the feeling of the play!


message 14: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Dhanaraj wrote: "Gill wrote: "I've ordered Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays from the library, so will be starting there."

I really loved this play. superb play with interesting th..."


I liked both of those Pirandello's very much -- just a head's up that Absolutely Perhaps has also been translated as Right You Are (if You Think You Are). So you might see it with that title instead.

Both Six Characters and Absolutely Perhaps are in the public domain in the US and thus the English language editions can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg (they make 2 of the 3 plays in Pirandello's "Three Plays"):
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42148


message 15: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments While I was at the library getting my Juan Ramón Jiménez poetry book, I picked up The Collected Plays, Vol. 1: We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! and Other Works by Dario Fo (winner in 1997).

It doesn't have the one you read Dhanaraj -- Abducting Diana -- but it does have 2 other plays involving kidnapping (About Face & Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman) so clearly that was a big theme with him. Glancing through the translator's notes I found that Fo was fascinated by the abduction (and eventual murder) of Aldo Moro in 1978.


message 16: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Thanks Leslie for the necessary and useful information on Absolutely Perhaps and Abducting Diana.


message 17: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I have discovered that the 1938 film of Pygmalion with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller is available on YouTube. Shaw apparently worked on the screenplay and it's a bit in between the original and My Fair Lady:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsntT...


message 18: by Pink (new)

Pink Although I enjoyed Pygmalion, I think my main problem was that I studied it, rather than read for enjoyment. That tends to put me off books, as my memory is of dissecting and analysing issues, rather than recalling what I enjoyed about it. Though perhaps I should reread it, as I might still have my copy somewhere.

I read the Pygmalion myth recently in Ovid's metamorphosis, which I really liked.


message 19: by Gill (last edited Jul 08, 2016 02:33AM) (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Leslie wrote: "Dhanaraj wrote: "Gill wrote: "I've ordered Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays from the library, so will be starting there."

I really loved this play. superb play wi..."


Thanks for the information re Project Gutenberg, Leslie. I never thought to look there. I assumed the books were still in copyright.


message 20: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Leslie mentioned Project Gutenberg. There is also Australian Project Gutenberg http://gutenberg.net.au , which has some different books available. For example, it has several works by Eugene O'Neill.


message 21: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Gill wrote: "Leslie mentioned Project Gutenberg. There is also Australian Project Gutenberg http://gutenberg.net.au , which has some different books available. For example, it has several works by ..."

Yeah, the Australian laws regarding copyright are different than the U.S. and there are a few authors available there that aren't available here -- I will issue the reminder that it is each person's responsibility to follow the laws of their own country (or to choose to break those laws).


message 22: by katie (new)

katie | 74 comments I found The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite by Wole Soyinka at a used bookstore the other day, so I grabbed it. And I think I'll check the library catalog for some others.


message 23: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Oh, I forgot to post here that I read a play by Italian Nobel Laureate Dario Fo -- We Can't Pay? We Won't Pay! (though my translation called it "We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!"). I really liked it!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 24: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I've got myself started on Three Plays by Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author; Henry IV and Right You Are, at last. I've just finished Six Characters..... and thought it was funny and thought provoking.

Has anyone seen any of his plays live?


message 25: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Gill wrote: "I've got myself started on Three Plays by Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author; Henry IV and Right You Are, at last. I've just finished Six Characters..... and thou..."

Not me Gill. If you can't find a live performance, maybe there is some video on YouTube. I'll post if I find any!


message 26: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Here is one -- no guarantees of quality though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNNEM...


message 27: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Gill wrote: "I've got myself started on Three Plays by Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author; Henry IV and Right You Are, at last. I've just finished Six Characters..... and thou..."

Nice to hear that you liked the SIX CHARACTERS.


message 28: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I was blown away by Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman: A Play! And it is based on true events!!

Here is my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 29: by Pink (new)

Pink I'm glad you liked it too Leslie :)


message 30: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I'm partway through Anna Christie now. I'm surprised how detailed the descriptions of the characters are, their appearance, their clothes and their personalities.

I'm finding it ok, but hard to read Chris' part, because O'Neill has written his strong Scandinavian accent phonetically.


message 31: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Gill wrote: "I'm partway through Anna Christie now. I'm surprised how detailed the descriptions of the characters are, their appearance, their clothes and their personalities.

I'm finding it ok, ..."


I remember that dialect troubling for me too -- if you could find an audiobook edition, it would help (though by the time you see this comment you will probably be done!).


message 32: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Yes, I remember that you used audio, Leslie. The thing I find a bit odd is that if I say it out loud, it sounds a bit a spoof on the accent. You know how some older novels write some people who talk in dialect? I think nowadays it would be considered condescending.


message 33: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I read another Soyinka, A Dance of the Forests -- boy, am I glad that I read some of his others first! I couldn't understand this one at all and found it hard to get through despite the fact it was under 90 pages long. 2*


message 34: by Pink (new)

Pink Leslie, that's a shame you didn't enjoy this one so much. I ended up reading just two plays by Soyinka, which I both enjoyed, but then I returned the library book without reading more. Perhaps I started with the best ones too!

I can't remember if I've commented elsewhere, but I've been slowly trying to read some more plays. Over the past couple of months I've read Waiting for Godot and A Doll's House both with varying success. I suppose I appreciated them more than I loved them.

I still plan on reading A Streetcar Named Desire, The Seagull, A Raisin in the Sun, Death of a Salesman and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I noticed on social media a couple of days ago that Edward Albee had sadly died.

I'm not sure if my above plans are all by Nobel Laureates, I'd made a note that they were, but I might be wrong, so feel free to correct me!


message 35: by Greg (last edited Sep 20, 2016 06:44PM) (new)

Greg | 7264 comments Mod
Pink wrote: "I still plan on reading A Streetcar Named Desire, The Seagull, A Raisin in the Sun, Death of a Salesman and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?..."

A great list Pink! - the only one I haven't read yet is The Seagull. All of them are good in different ways.

I think in particular that Death of a Salesman reads well. Like The Crucible, I like it just as much on paper as performed. A Streetcar Named Desire is a good read too, at least for me.

I wonder though how the dark humor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will come across on paper? Curious to see what you make of it.

How sad about Albee's death! I hadn't heard. :(


message 36: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I finished my first play by Belgium Nobel Laureate Maurice Maeterlinck -- Pelleas and Melisande. This play was so popular that Debussy turned it into an opera and several other famous composers created music either for it or inspired by it.

My review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 37: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Greg - I found Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? came across on paper fine (but I had seen the Burton-Taylor film so that might have helped).


message 38: by Pink (new)

Pink I've seen the Burton-Taylor film, but might watch it again before reading the play. Watching and reading has been working for me with Shakespeare, so I should probably do the same with other playwrights.


message 39: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7264 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "Greg - I found Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? came across on paper fine (but I had seen the Burton-Taylor film so that might have helped)."

It worked fine for me too, but I think I saw it on stage first as I did with The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and Three Tall Women. I think The Zoo Story and "The Death of Bessie Smith" are the only ones of his that I read first - both of those read well for me.


message 40: by Pink (new)

Pink I've finished Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and I have mixed feelings about it. I've also realised that I hadn't seen the Taylor/Burton film, just clips of it, as I didn't know the plot all too well. I really liked the first two acts the play, but it just became more and more hysterical by the third part and I was left not quite knowing what to think!


message 41: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7264 comments Mod
Pink wrote: "I've finished Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and I have mixed feelings about it. I've also realised that I hadn't seen the Taylor/Burton film, just clips of it, as I didn't know the p..."

It is fairly hysterical Pink.

Did the dark humor come across on the page though? Performed well on stage, there are some laughs for sure, especially in the first half before things get darker, but part of it is in the delivery. When I saw Bill Irwin and Kathleen Turner in the leads a few years ago, parts were quite funny.

Like The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, it starts off darkly humorous and gradually increases in intensity until it becomes rather disturbing instead. Or at least that's my reaction to it on stage.


message 42: by Pink (new)

Pink Yes the dark humour definitely comes across on the page. I agree the intensity and hysterics increase as it goes on, just as in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. I'd still like to watch the film, or see it performed. Imelda Staunton is starring in a new production in London next year, which sounds amazing. So I'd like to see that if I get a chance.


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