Best plays to read?

mjohnson2 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 03:12am
Hello all,
So there are some plays out there, that despite being great, are really only enjoyable when seeing a high quality live production of the show, but there are other plays that are great to sit down and read as well. So I am asking for recommendations of plays that come across really well when they are read to one's self, and don't require a live production to be enjoyed.

Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
Updated On: 7/27/14 at 03:12 AM
gleek4114 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 03:17am
I enjoyed reading "Wit". I read it and then a local theatre company put on the show about a year later. I went and saw it and I concluded that if I had not read it before I would not have gotten everything as it was being performed.
CapnHook Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 06:47am
All of Tennessee Williams.
"The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet."
promisespromises2 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 08:14am
^That. And Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee.
adam.peterson44 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 08:45am
Death of a Salesman
carash22 Profile Photo
Chorus Member
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 04:41pm
"The Skin of Our Teeth" is, in my opinion, one of Thornton Wilder's best plays to read. Also, if you're looking for something less well-know, "Maple and Vine" by Jordan Harrison is one of my all-time favorites.
jnb9872 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 04:50pm
Your mileage may vary, but I find two-handers very easy to read. A play like BLACKBIRD lets the confrontation really come to life when it's just the two voices you're imagining. TOPDOG/UNDERDOG is really compelling in print because of they way Parks' "spells" are written out (honestly, the idea of a "spell" with characters having 'lines' but not saying anything is such a brilliant evocation of a charged, active pause.) TALLEY'S FOLLY was so fun to read, imagining the story unfolding as he told it.

I also can get lost in the words of very talented wordsmiths. Stoppard, Shaw (whose stage directions could be published on their own), Tennessee Williams (in his own colloquial way), and McDonagh who really lets the words be center stage, though some of his plays lose something without the staging (Inishmore especially, suffers without the visceral responses to all the damn blood.)

Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey. They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good anymore…I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.
Updated On: 7/27/14 at 04:50 PM
promisespromises2 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 05:16pm
^ I'm in love with George Bernard Shaw's plays. I saw Major Barbara at the Abbey Theater while visiting Ireland last year and just fell in love with it. I need to hop to our used bookstore downtown and get more of his works!
fyeahmaria Profile Photo
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 07:37pm
Currently making my way through the Kaufman/Hart plays and really enjoying them!
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 07:51pm
I think that Sam Shepard's plays are better when they are read. I've not seen any good productions of Shepard.

Fool For Love
Buried Child
A Lie Of The Mind
True West
Curse of the Starving Class

If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Updated On: 7/27/14 at 07:51 PM
GavestonPS Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 09:50pm
I agree with Goth: Shepard is tough.

The OP might want to try LIFE IS A DREAM (LA VIDA ES SUENO in Spanish), preferably the Ted Hughes translation if you can find it.

It's a beautiful, philosophical play (with plenty of action, romance and even clowning), but reading it gives one time to pause a bit over the more philosophical passages.

Well, worth it, however you encounter it. I read it aloud to my brother on his death bed.

Updated On: 7/27/14 at 09:50 PM
GavestonPS Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/27/14 at 09:55pm
I'm sure I'll be burned at the stake for heresy, but almost ANY Caryl Churchill play benefits from reading it before seeing it. She loves intellectual conceits and is quite brilliant at it, but take CLOUD NINE for her most famous example. The cast in Act I plays entirely different roles in Act II: the characters are mostly the same, but played by different actors.

It's one thing to write on a page that the doll who plays "Victoria" in Act I is played by a human actress in Act II; it is quite another to figure it out as the play unrolls before you.

Nonetheless, it is one of my favorite plays and loses nothing if you read it before hand.

In TOP GIRLS, the characters in Act I talk over each other and it's much easier to follow them on the page. Since the remaining scenes drop all but one character and take place elsewhere, it doesn't hurt to read it on the page so that one can pause now and then to consider what is happening and why.

Updated On: 7/27/14 at 09:55 PM
JBroadway Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/28/14 at 05:41am
I'd definitely say Arcadia by Tom Stoppard is a great one to read. It's very wordy and cerebral, which can make it a bit difficult to follow onstage if you haven't already read it. It's an amazing play, though.
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Broadway Legend
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/28/14 at 06:30am
I think it is very interesting to read any of the plays by James Barrie, especially his original Peter Pan (follow that by reading the novel!).
Barrie, moreso than just about any playwright, hasa very prose-style structure to his scripts. He will often spend a full two pages describing how he sees the set, the scene, a character, a back story or motivation... Many things that youboften can not say to an audience but greatly influence an actor. It is one reason why Caird / Nunn added a Barrie figure as a Storyteller in their adaptions of Pan for the RSC & RNT.
Chorus Member
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/29/14 at 10:24pm
I was surprised at how much I liked Carousel when I read it. Oklahoma was good also.

oncemorewithfeeling2 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Best plays to read?
Posted: 7/29/14 at 10:51pm
I'll second reading Sam Shepard plays. I've seen average productions of them, but I find myself really enjoying the material more if I can have it at my speed and deconstruct as needed.

I've found that I enjoy historical/political plays more when I read them since that's where my education, interests, and occupations are (beyond dance). I like being able to compare the plays to the reality I learned of situations and think it through.

I like musicals for the entertainment and sometimes, the sheer spectacle of things. I like plays for thinking purposes.
Leading Actor
Best plays to read?
Posted: 8/5/14 at 04:19am
I totally agree with previous posters about Caryl Churchill and Tom Stoppard. Churchill's "Top Girls" is incomprehensible on the stage unless you've read it. Stoppard is so dense that a reading beforehand is always a good idea. The published script of "Coast of Utopia" is annotated with footnotes, explaining his myriad obscure references.

For sheer fun, read Kaufman and Hart. Their written stage directions are often funnier than the dialogue which follows.

Personally, I would add O'Neill. On the page, "Mourning Becomes Electra" is gorgeously poetic. On the stage, it's a crushing bore.

Updated On: 8/5/14 at 04:19 AM