Theatre Books and Plays discussion

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What are you reading?

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message 1: by River (new)

River (riveraria) What plays are you reading right now or that you have recently read? I'm reading Romeo and Juliet as part of a complete Shakespeare read through. I've also recently finished 'Airline Highway.' It's a phenomenal script!


message 2: by Mrs. C. (new)

Mrs. C. | 1 comments King Lear


message 3: by John (new)

John Stammers (jwstammers) | 1 comments Just finished Robin Robertson's translation of Euripides' "Medea". I recently read "Othello". Moving on to Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard."


message 4: by Feliks (last edited Oct 13, 2017 11:46AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Never heard of 'Airline Highway' but if it's a contemporary story set in the US (which ordinarily might make it a good script, in the long line of good scripts like 'Network' or something like that) I can't take your word for it's greatness.

The #1 problem facing movie scripts today is the presence of cell phones and smart devices. You can't include them. You can't omit them. How do you write around them? They extinguish all dramatic tension in any story. It's an unmitigated disaster. (Who would ever have guessed that vast numbers of adults would ever turn this asinine, that they would adopt infantile and enfeebled 'assisted living' and shuffle around clutching grown-up baby pacifiers?)

Techie gadgets ruin the audience as well. You've got a generation of simpletons looking confusedly up at a stage or the screen, stupidly wondering why the figures standing up there facing them, aren't checking their phones every few seconds in the same way that they do. As if everyone in the world has always been the same type of sh**head they are.

So unless 'Airline Highway' is a period-piece set in some other era, I won't be investigating it. Let the country wallow in super-hero franchises, I guess.

(Yep, I rant at this, at the drop-of-a-hat, I know; but it's because I work on scripts of my own for several hours every day, and these obstacles constantly stymie my goals...however, see this article if you feel I over-react)
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...

Meanwhile. What am I reading? Nothing theater-related at the moment (and nothing planned, worse luck).

Finishing up Ferdinand Braudel's whirlwind overview of the Mediterranean and its cultures, in the 1500s. Vol I. Overwhelming feat of academia. Last 100 pages. I have to find my next fix.

As a back-up, I have "Man's Fate" by Andre Malraux but --as fine and stirring as it is--it's still just a novel. Not challenging enough; feels like being 'spoon-fed'. I've largely weaned myself away from fiction. Smacks of Joseph Conrad (great) and its set in the turbulence of 1920s Shanghai, (fabulous), but nevertheless. I'd rather have my hands on another juicy morsel of nonfiction.


message 5: by River (new)

River (riveraria) We haven't run into the cell phone problems in the theatres I work in. They are actually turned off, even by the post mellineals! I suppose we are just lucky that people actually have theatre etiquette. We teach children and teens to appreciate what is going on on stage and the work that goes into it. Our city is known for the arts and children are raised with it. Those that don't know are quickly corrected by their peers. It is probably a biproduct of the theatre community. Or maybe it's the fact that I work primarily with the stage rather than the screen.

As for Airline Highway, it's the story of the funeral of an old French Quarter matron, Miss Ruby. She is a burlesque dancer who has been around forever and is respected by all those she helped and mothered. She has requested a funeral before she dies. The story is less about her and more about the outcasts and their stories and lives. And yes, there is an iPad actively used on stage by a teenage stepdaughter interviewing the characters.

Honestly, the flippant disregard for any work without ever seeing or reading it quite astounds me. I've always been one who insists that we (as actors, playwrights, dramaturges, and those who appreciate the arts in general) should give plays a chance. It was instilled in me by my professors and is something I'm instilling in my students and children. I teach them to open their minds to the things that they can learn and experience through both modern and classic works. I suppose I'm optimistic.


message 7: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) 'A Doll's House' Part 2?

What city are you in Ken

Its been astounding to me lately, to see a Broadway revival of 'Doll'. If that is, I can believe the signs. One never can tell. Signs abound in New York, who knows what they're actually touting?

But if so, I wouldn't have believed --just by being told--that any producer these days would have had the guts to attempt this milestone Ibsen play, on a "beyond-mindless" cell-phone audience. That's how it is these days. It's not just an uninformed public its a public that actively wards away real knowledge-ability.

Another musing: with the current public obsession with celeb-watching, I wonder how any actor can be convincing in their roles? If a star is constantly in the media, how does he even do his job? Don't audiences attend everything lately, just to get close to the star, rather than the character being portrayed by the star?

Of course, at the same time (as 'Doll'), there's some kind of Broadway musical 'Ferdinand'--based on 'Ferdinand the Bull' which is a meager little children's Hanna-Barbara cartoon, last time I checked. Taxicabs roam the streets with plastic bull's horns on their roofs. If you can believe it! Plastic bull's horns!

The Great White Way certainly remains a mystery.

I dunno. Media-over-saturation is becoming a quality-of-life issue with me these days. I don't want to live with a constant bombardment of mundane, pragmatic, factoids and miscellany. I want to live in a world of menace, magic and mystery. Isn't that how the world really is, if we shut off all our electronic gadgets?

You can't even chat with anyone any more without them peppering their speech with famous lines from Seinfeld. Instead of their own speech.

Bah! Right now I'm listening to liturgical music, spooky monastic chants of some sort.


message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason (jasona-f) | 21 comments I'm also waiting for the release of A Dolls House Part 2 and Lucas' other play Red Speedo. Finished reading Paula Vogel's Indecent which was stunning!


message 9: by Scott (new)

Scott (skotf9) | 4 comments I am also looking forward to the release of A Doll's House Part 2 and Red Speedo by Lucas Hnath. Finished Indecent by Paula Vogel and will read Junk by Ayad Akhtar.


message 10: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) But y'know I hope this doesn't become the latest marketing trend in book sales. Its kind of a rude abrogation of someone else's idea.

Like, Should I title my own upcoming novel 'Great Expectations Part 2' by Feliks? 'Anna Karenina, the Untold Story' by Feliks D?


message 11: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Soon I will be reading
Amazons and Their Men
by Jordan Harrison
A new translation of The Bakkhai by Euripides, Anne Carson (Translator)
& A Doll's House, Part 2
by Lucas Hnath"


Kenny, I haven't yet read that one by Euripides, but it looks very intriguing. Eager to hear what you think of it (and the translation).


message 12: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments The plays I've read most recently were The Tempest, Creditors (August Strindberg) and 'Art' (Yasmina Reza)


message 13: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Davis | 1 comments Currently reading the play adaption of 1984 and waiting for The Normal Heart to come in the mail. I saw A Doll’s House Part 2 on Broadway with a friend and can’t wait to read it at some point.


message 14: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "The plays I've read most recently were The Tempest, Creditors (August Strindberg) and 'Art' (Yasmina Reza)"
All three of these are fantastic plays Greg!


message 15: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "All three of these are fantastic plays Greg!.."

I thought so too Kenny!

I don't work in the theater field, but I do love plays (both on stage and on paper). I'm intrigued by several I've seen people mentioning in this thread - looks like this will be a great group for me to discover some plays that are new to me! ... especially older ones that aren't produced frequently in my area or ones that just haven't made it to the west coast where I live yet.


message 16: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "I thought so too Kenny!"
You should check out everything by Nilo Cruz, Stephen Adly Guirgis & Lynn Nottage


message 17: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Greg wrote: "I thought so too Kenny!"
You should check out everything by Nilo Cruz, Stephen Adly Guirgis & Lynn Nottage"


Thanks for the recommendations Kenny! - I'll definitely check them out


message 18: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny, I looked into some of these - they look great!

Do you think Anna in the Tropics is a good starting place for Cruz? I see he also did a childrens' play adaption A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings based on the short story by Gabriel García Márquez - that's a fantastic short story by Marquez; so I'm intrigued, but it might be tough to get my hands on a copy of the play.

For Guirgus, I was thinking maybe Between Riverside and Crazy or The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

And for Nottage, I was thinking of starting with Ruined.

Thanks so much for introducing me to these playwrights! I hadn't heard of any of them before, though I see Nottage has had some productions of her plays done not too far away fom me at SCR. Somehow, I'd missed them. There are so many theaters around here - it's hard to keep tabs on all of them. I end up missing a lot of great stuff that I only find out about afterwards.


message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason (jasona-f) | 21 comments I think Anna in the Tropics is a great place to start with Cruz.

Ruined is great, but also check out Intimate Apparel by Nottage.

start anywhere you like with Guirgis-you'll love him and end up reading everything by him eventually.

Happy reading!

Greg wrote: "Kenny, I looked into some of these - they look great!

Do you think Anna in the Tropics is a good starting place for Cruz? I see he also did a childrens' play adaption A Very Old Man ..."



message 20: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Jason wrote: "I think Anna in the Tropics is a great place to start with Cruz.

Ruined is great, but also check out Intimate Apparel by Nottage.

start anywhere you like with Guirgis-you'll love him and end up r..."


Thanks Jason!

I used a gift card I got from the holidays to order some of these. Looking forward to reading them.

Have you been lucky enough to see any of these on stage?


message 21: by Jason (new)

Jason (jasona-f) | 21 comments Hi Greg,

I was lucky enough to see productions of Anna in the Tropics, Intimate Apparel, Our Lady of 121st Street and The Motherfucker with the Hat.

Greg wrote: "Jason wrote: "I think Anna in the Tropics is a great place to start with Cruz.

Ruined is great, but also check out Intimate Apparel by Nottage.

start anywhere you like with Guirgis-you'll love hi..."



message 22: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "Kenny, I looked into some of these - they look great!"

The titles you listed are all great Greg. My favorite of Cruz's plays is Sotto Voce. It blew me away. I did love Anna in the Tropics as well.

For For Guirgus, would start with Between Riverside and Crazy or The Motherfucker with the Hat.

For Nottage, Ruined of Sweat.

Another suggestions Paula Vogel's Indecent.


message 23: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Greg wrote: "Kenny, I looked into some of these - they look great!"

The titles you listed are all great Greg. My favorite of Cruz's plays is Sotto Voce. It blew me away. I did love Anna in the Tro..."


Wow, Sotto Voce looks fascinating Kenny, both in the Goodreads description and your great review. I'll definitely try to get a copy!


message 24: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "Wow, Sotto Voce looks fascinating Kenny, both in the Goodreads description and your great review. I'll definitely try to get a copy! "

It was an amazing read.


message 25: by Jack (new)

Jack Davidson | 1 comments I just finished reading Sweat... and wow. How prophetic!


message 26: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Deal | 14 comments I am going to the Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel


message 27: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Shawn wrote: "I am going to the Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel"

Have you seen or read it before?


message 28: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Deal | 14 comments Kenny wrote: "Shawn wrote: "I am going to the Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel"

Have you seen or read it before?"


No. I am really looking forward to it.


message 29: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Shawn wrote: "No. I am really looking forward to it."

Ok. No spoilers then. Enjyiy and we can discuss after you’ve seen it.


message 30: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Deal | 14 comments Kenny wrote: "Shawn wrote: "No. I am really looking forward to it."

Ok. No spoilers then. Enjyiy and we can discuss after you’ve seen it."


Sounds good.


message 31: by Graham (new)

Graham Sessions | 7 comments Setting Places by Rachel Feeney-Williams is a funny one-act play.


message 32: by Mark (new)

Mark André | 26 comments I was just invited to join this group, thank you Kenny! - )

The most recent play I have read was Strindberg's The Father. Before that we also read his Julie. Before that we also read a bunch of Ibsen's plays; and I also did a private re-read of Godot. I was actually in a conversation today with a friend on the subject of James Joyce's lone effort Exiles, and if I can find the old photo copy of it around the house I was thinking of reading it again.


message 33: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Jack wrote: "I just finished reading Sweat... and wow. How prophetic!" It is an amazing play!


message 34: by Kenny (last edited Mar 13, 2018 08:13PM) (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "I was just invited to join this group, thank you Kenny! - )

The most recent play I have read was Strindberg's The Father. Before that we also read his Julie. Before that we also read a bunch of Ib..."


Have you read any of Strindberg's experimental works such as The Dream Play or Ghost Sonata?


message 35: by d.a.v.i.d (new)

d.a.v.i.d | 1 comments I am reading Zinsky the obscure. I may put it down soon. It is too elementary, possibly.


message 36: by Mohamad (new)

Mohamad Shibly (moshibly) the cossaks by tolstoy. boring:(


message 37: by Eugene (new)

Eugene Vasilev (takeabow) | 1 comments May I chip in? I'm reading 'Inverting the Pyramid' by Jonathan Wilson. This is a superb tactical and historical guide to football, like what Brits call football and Americans soccer. I'm not sure there are many admirers of the game here, but if there are some, then do read it.

Honestly, it's my second attempt because the last time I kinda lost the plot, in a way, so I decided to give it another try. It's something like Bill Bryson's books. Something fundamental in an accessible way.

And yesterday I bought a book I had wanted to have for some time. It's called 'Flow' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Whether it's psychology or pseudo-psychology I don't know. It's one of those books you always leaf through when at the shop but hesitate to buy.

I'm not really into this kind of books, but if the contents fit the description (discussing some optimal positive condition called 'flow', a key to stabilising your life) then it may be worth it. At least, Goodreads says it's good (4+), but Goodreads also told me that 'A Man Called Ove' was amazing. I just hated that 'blog-became-a-book thing.

Enjoy your day!


message 38: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Eugene wrote: "May I chip in? I'm reading 'Inverting the Pyramid' by Jonathan Wilson. This is a superb tactical and historical guide to football, like what Brits call football and Americans soccer. I'm not sure t..."

I personally think artists can get much out of books like INVERTING THE PYRAMID. Flow is actually a pretty good book.

Thank you for sharing!


message 39: by Katie (new)

Katie Butler | 13 comments I'm currently reading "Through the Body: A Practical Guide to Physical Theatre" by Dymphna Callery. Also about to dive into Annie Baker's Vermont Plays. And approximately 10 other scripts/physical theatre books waiting in the wings.


message 40: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Katie wrote: "I'm currently reading "Through the Body: A Practical Guide to Physical Theatre" by Dymphna Callery. Also about to dive into Annie Baker's Vermont Plays. And approximately 10 other scripts/physical ..."

You should analyze Sam Shepard's Tongues at some point. The script if done properly is full of possibilities for physical theatre.


message 41: by Katie (new)

Katie Butler | 13 comments Thank you Kenny! I have read several Sam Shepard plays, but I have not gotten to this one yet. Onto the list it goes.


message 42: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments As a break from other reads, I started reading Between Riverside and Crazy this morning. I absolutely love it so far - it's poignant and absolutely hilarious at the same time! Thanks for the recommendation Kenny!


message 43: by Kenny (last edited Jul 21, 2018 12:04PM) (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "As a break from other reads, I started reading Between Riverside and Crazy this morning. I absolutely love it so far - it's poignant and absolutely hilarious at the same time! Thanks for the recommendation Kenny!"

I'm glad you're loving it, Greg. Stephen Adly Guirgis speaks volumes of truth in his writing. He snuck up on me and BAM, I was hooked.


message 44: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Greg wrote: "As a break from other reads, I started reading Between Riverside and Crazy this morning. I absolutely love it so far - it's poignant and absolutely hilarious at the sam..."

Definitely Kenny - there's a lot of hard truth there, but with the humor, he can sneak past any internal barriers. It's potent stuff!

I particularly like what you say in your review about Guirgus and everyman. Great review!

Are you not fond of Miller? I thought both Death of a Salesman and The Crucible were brilliant myself, but I am not a playwright or producer, just an avid reader and playgoer. A friend of mine used to perform opera professionally, and when I go with her to musical performances, she often hears subtle nuances that I miss entirely.


message 45: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "Are you not fond of Miller?"

I love Miller; as I get older I appreciate his work more and more. I think many of his plays are unjustly maligned ~~ AFTER THE FALL in particular. The problem with AFTER THE FALL is so many productions are so bad. Read Miller's THE AMERICAN CLOCK sometime. It is wonderful.


message 46: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Greg wrote: "Are you not fond of Miller?"

I love Miller; as I get older I appreciate his work more and more. I think many of his plays are unjustly maligned ~~ AFTER THE FALL in particular. The pr..."


I know what you mean by bad productions - a bad production can make even a brilliant play look bad. I've seen a few others by Miller that varied in quality, though his best plays to me are astonishingly good!

A couple years ago, I saw the London ptoduction of A View from the Bridge: A Play in Two Acts (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/13/th...). The much more symbolic staging was interesting, but some of the cracks still showed. I think though that sometimes the lesser works of an artist can still be interesting when vuewed in the framework of their body of work as a whole.

Thanks for the tip on The American Clock - I'll definitely check it out!


message 47: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "I've seen a few others by Miller that varied in quality, though his best plays to me are astonishingly good!"

Another issue with Miller, is the working class, the class he wrote so passionately about is disappearing. As this happens, many of his plays lose relevance to younger theatre goers. This is why Williams has more relevance in today's theatrical world.


message 48: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Greg wrote: "I've seen a few others by Miller that varied in quality, though his best plays to me are astonishingly good!"

Another issue with Miller, is the working class, the class he wrote so pa..."


That makes sense Kenny.

A lot of people are still barely making it economically, but they don't identify together in the same way and they're clustered in the service economy & other areas rather than manufacturing. People are divided up politically along different lines than they used to be.

The best of Williams' work is brilliant as well!


message 49: by Kenny (new)

Kenny | 168 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "The best of Williams' work is brilliant as well!"

What are your favorite scripts by Williams?


message 50: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Kenny wrote: "Greg wrote: "The best of Williams' work is brilliant as well!"

What are your favorite scripts by Williams?"


Such a huge body of work!

The Glass Menagerie is one of my favorites, but many others are also extremely moving, big ones like A Streetcar Named Desire and some smaller ones as well.

I think Williams was one of the first playwrights I was drawn to - Williams and Albee.

The Zoo Story by Edward Albee and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams were the first two plays that I remember haunting me. There was a power at their root that wouldn't let me turn away.

Funny, when I finally saw a production of The Zoo Story, I was a bit disappointed - the production couldn't live up to what I'd pictured in my head for years .. of course, that's partly because the production was small and not very inspired, the acting lackluster. The play was written decades before I was born - I wonder what it could have been like in 1958 to see something so transgressive and strange? ... in my imagination, pure fire, tongues of holy spirit licking up the spine!


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