BWW Blog: Plays That Will Change You
My fall quarter at SCAD just ended last week and now I'm off until the beginning of January for my winter break. One of the classes I took as a dramatic writing major was playwriting and I got to thinking about some of my favorite plays that I would love to share with people and hopefully they can experience for themselves one day. You can also add these to your Christmas wish list if you so desire.
1. The Boys in The Band
The Boys in the Band was one of the first plays I ever saw, and I was extremely fortunate to see it on Broadway in 2018 with the amazing cast that included Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, and Andrew Rannells to name a few. The play first premiered Off-Broadway in 1968 and last year was it's 50th anniversary. Our story here is an exploration of gay life and friendship through a group of gay men gathering in New York City for one of their friend's birthday parties. One moment it is hilarious and the next it is heart wrenching and it was the first play to display gay men's lives without scrutiny on the stage in a time of extreme turmoil. There's a 1970 film of the same name
that is also quite good and an upcoming adaptation of the Broadway revival with the same cast coming out next year. This is an extremely important and brilliantly written play by Mart Crowley, and it needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
2. Burn This
One of the more recent plays I saw just this year was the new Broadway production of Burn This, which premiered on Off-Broadway in 1987. This may be one of the best, if not the best, play I've ever seen. The cast were all wonderful, consisting of Adam Driver, David Furr, Keri Russell, and Brandon Uranowitz. However, Adam Driver really stole the whole show and his comedic timing was nothing short of genius. It was honestly one of the best performances I've ever had the pleasure to witness in my life. I knew I wanted to see this show because of the amazing cast but I didn't really know what to expect. I thought it was going to be this romantic drama, but it was so much more. A group of people must come together after a recent death and explore their feelings for one another and if they can cope with them. What I didn't expect was the amount of humor present. It was one of the most beautiful and romantic plays and the one of the most hilarious and witty plays at the same time. Lanford Wilson, in my eyes, is one of the most brilliant playwrights out there and I highly recommend you read this play when you get the chance because you won't regret it.
Most people think of the 1976 film of the same name when mentioning Network, but I think of the incredible play that was adapted from it. Both are stunning pieces of work, but the play seemed to resonate with me a lot more. Maybe it was the fact that I got to see the 2018 Broadway production this year and Bryan Cranston, who is one of my favorite actors ever, starred in it. Maybe it was because of the audience interaction. Maybe it was because of a lot of things, but whatever the case it was one of the best nights of theatre I've ever experienced. Network is about a television network that is going to fire their anchor, Howard Beale, due to poor ratings and he decides he will commit suicide on the air, however this doesn't come to pass and he starts to bring in ratings as he continues to rant on live television about life and how it is bullshit. He's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. The acting was incredible, and Bryan Cranston is a total force to be reckoned with. He gives it his all and you truly believe he is slowly going mad throughout the show. The audience participation was also a real treat. I love any show that will interact with it's audience and this one did it so well with different stage devices and technology that made a show set in the 70's seem modern and fresh. They even had an onstage restaurant and bar where you could pay to sit on the stage and eat while watching the show! The message behind the show is also more evident and pressing than ever when discussing what technology means in this world and how it affects all of us. When this show was written it was meant to be fictional; a caricature. However, it has morphed into our reality. This play will change how you view the industry and the world of technology and you'll be glad that it did.
The last play I would like to talk about is the most recent one I've seen, which is the 2019 Broadway production of Betrayal. When I saw the extremely talented cast of Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton I knew I had to see this play no matter what the material was. Tom Hiddleston is another one of my favorite actors and I knew whatever he was in he would be brilliant. Not only were the actors as stunning as I knew they would be, but the show really touched me and showed me a new realm of storytelling that was possible. Written by Harold Pinter and having premiered in 1978, Betrayal is about an affair that spans seven years between a married Couple, Emma and Robert, and Robert's best friend and best man at his wedding, Jerry, who is also married. What's most unique about Betrayal is that it is told in reverse chronology and starts with the affair ending and ends with the affair beginning as the audience slowly pieces everything together and goes on this emotional roller coaster with these characters. As the audience, you never feel lost. Somehow telling the story backwards makes complete and utter sense and if it was the told the other way around, I don't think it would be nearly as effective. There are moments where you weep, there's times where you can't stop laughing, and then there's times where you reflect on your own life and wonder if it is all a lie too. The writing is excellent, and the piece is one of the best character studies I have ever seen. Harold Pinter stuns with ever word he writes and deserves even more praise than he gets.