March 27, 2015

10 Book to Celebrate World Theatre Day

Happy World Theatre Day everyone!

Theatre is a form of expression, unique and demanding. In order to watch a play, you have to live in it, to imagine the surroundings, to feel like the protagonists. So, the work of the playwright is a challenging one and this day it's the opportunity to honour all those who offered their effort into this art form. Here is a list of some popular and classic theatrical plays to check out today.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

theatrical play Hamlet cover

Who can deny the power of Shakespeare's plays? Hamlet, the story of the young prince of Denmark who sees the ghost of his father, was written between 1599 and 1602. Today it's one of the most popular and most performed plays in the world.

The Misanthrope by Moliere

thetrical play The Misanthrope cover

In contrast to the previous play, The Misanthrope is a comedy. It was first performed in 1666 and it satirizes the hypocrisy of the french aristocracy. This play was adapted several times in the modern theatre. 

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

Theatrical Play A Doll's House cover

Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright, with important works such as Peer Gynt, Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck, is often called the father of realism and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre. A Doll's House was first performed in 1879 and tries to criticize the norms of marriage at the time. It was even considered controversial since its inspiration was the belief that a woman cannot be herself in that society.

Miss Julie by August Strindberg

Theatrical Play Miss Julie cover

Miss Julie premiered in 1889 and it's a story about the love between Miss Julie, an heir of an old aristocratic family, and Jean, the valet. It is one of the most performed plays in history.

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov

Theatrical Play The Cherry Orchard cover

The Cherry Orchard is the last play written by Chekhov. It was first performed in 1904 and that production was directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play to be a comedy, but Stanislavski directed it as a tragedy and up to this day those who wish to perform it has to decide which approach they like best.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Theatrical Play Death of a Salesman cover

Death of a Salesman is one of the finest American plays in the 20th century. It premiered on Broadway in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. It's a satirical play about reality and illusion, as well as the American Dream. 

The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

Theatrical Play The Caretaker cover

The Caretaker is the first commercial success by Harold Pinter. It was first performed in London in 1960. The play is a psychological study of the confluence of power among two brothers and a tramp. It mixes both tragic and comic elements and that's the reason why it's also described as a tragicomedy.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee

Theatrical Play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? cover

First performed in 1962 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play that explores the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple. The title of the play in a pun of the song Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? from Disney's Three Little Pigs (1933) and the couple sings it several times throughout the play. The dialogue in the first act of the play is often claimed to be the greatest in all American theatre.

Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer

Theatrical Play Sleuth cover

Sleuth premiered in 1970. A mystery writer, Wykes, calls to his house the lover of his wife and convinces him to stage the robbery of his wife's jewellery. This proposal has a chain of events that makes the audience question what is real and what is Wykes' fantasy. It was awarded  the Tony Award for Best Play and it was adapted for the cinema several times.

Amadeus by Peter Shaffer

Theatrical Play Amadeus cover

Amadeus is a play by Peter Shaffer, the twin brother of Anthony Shaffer and premiered in 1979. It's a fictionalized account of the lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. It was inspired by a 1830 short play  Mozart and Salieri by Alexander Pushkin. Shaffer himself adapted the script into a screenplay for the 1984 Academy Award Winning movie by the same title.

So, these are some of my favourite plays. Have you watched/read any of them? Which ones would you add to this list?


  1. I've woefully neglected plays for most of my life, which is a real mistake. We did study The Merchant Of Venice in school, which I really enjoyed, as well as The Plough And The Stars (an amazing Irish play about the consequences of the 1016 Easter Rising in Dublin which caused riots when it was first published back in the early twenties because it didn't portray the rebels as heroes, which is not something that is safe to do after a civil war). Anyway, thanks so much for these recommendations because theatre seems like a really rich medium that I may try to get into over the coming months and years.

    1. In the university I had a lesson about acting and everytime we read a monologue from a classic play. That way I learnt a lot plays and I've read much more since then. Moreover I always enjoying going to the theatre, so I would recommended. It's a different experience from that you get in the cinema.
      Now I'm rereading the post I feel that I've left out of the list many important playwrights, such as the Irish Samuell Becket or the American Tennessee Williams!

  2. sleuth, amadeus and virginia wolf kick ass!!(judging by their film adaptations)

    1. I haven't watched Sleuth, but I really want to since I like Laurence Olivier! And later this week there is a chance of going watch a performance of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by a local theatre.

  3. I haven't picked up any play ever to read. Whatever I have read, I read it in school and the only one I remember reading is Romeo And Juliet.

    1. Shakespeare's language is a little difficult. In school we only did some ancient greek tragedies, like Sophocles, Aeschylus..

  4. Great post! I love your blog design, it's adorable!

    1. Thank you very much! I put a lot of effort and love into it and I'm glad that you like it! :)

  5. I had no idea it was World Theatre Day last week! Wonderful list; I've been reading a lot of Shakespeare last year and this year (as well as watching a few stage productions filmed for DVD), which I'm having a lot of fun with. I've started expanding a bit to other contemporaries like Christopher Marlowe and Tom Ford. Other plays I've read from include Federico Garcia Lorca, Henrik Ibsen, Arthur Miller, and Calderon de la Barca. I hope to get around to Moliere at some point as well as others on my queue (the playwright who wrote The Changeling escapes my mind right now, but I also have Ben Johnson on the list) :)

    1. Wow! You have really dug into theatre! But I love this art form. The Blood Wedding by Lorca is amazing, don't you agree? The best experience in theatre for me was when I was able to attend a performance of the Death of a Salesman.
      I haven't really read/watched a play by Christopher Marlowe, although I'd like very much too. Others that I like include Brecht and Ionesco.

    2. Haha, yup, I just totally threw myself into the world of theatre this year xD I just wish I could attend more performances in-person; thank goodness for DVD recordings! (it's just too bad there's some performances from the 2000s at the Globe that weren't recorded or made to DVD...there's a Marlowe performance of Edward II that I'd love to see just because of the cast/heard good things about it xD) It's been a few years since I read Lorca's plays but I remember enjoying The Blood Wedding =)

    3. Yes, I wish there were more recordings. It's difficult to attend to many performances in-person. I hope that in a few days I will go to Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. It will be a greek production, but it seems amazing.


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