BY: SAMANTHA BURKE
Umm… is anyone else getting tired of Netflix? I hate to say it, but after staring at screens all day and then all night for the last 50 days (give or take) my eyes, and brain, could use a change of pace. Enter reading. For those of us missing live theater, here’s a list of 10 plays that will give you a theater education without leaving your living room.
If you’ve never read a single play: Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
It doesn’t get much more classic than Shakespeare, and obsessing over Baz Luhrman’s take doesn’t count. Remember when your whole 9th grade class couldn’t get it together as you were each assigned a character to read aloud, and you giggled through scenes that, looking back on it now, are actually very tragic? Pay attention this time around, and you might learn a thing or two about listening to both sides of a story, not to mention finding out the whole story before you act.
If you miss your women’s studies seminar: 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo
Heather Raffo’s one-woman show was compiled from the information she gathered after ten years of interviewing Iraqi women. In it, the author explores the effects of war on nine different characters. With a variety of women all at different stages in life, Raffo puts the audience face-to-face with the morality of war through the words of those living in the middle of it.
If you want something creative and clever: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Named one of the best science-related works by the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia parallels two different lifetimes in the same home as a writer and a literature professor investigate the lives of two people that once lived there. Studying inhabitants of the home in both 1809 and present day, the pair discover an unexpected truth about the past.
If you want to watch the movie once you’re done reading: A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams’ most popular play follows Blanche DuBois, a “Southern Belle” who, following a string of personal blows, leaves her glamorous life, relocates to live with her sister in a run-down apartment in New Orleans. Blanche is broke, widowed, and in her thirties. (In other words, her prospects are not looking good.) Things go from bad to worse when tensions rise between Blanche and her sister’s husband, Stanley. Once you’re done turning the pages, tune in to watch Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando in an Oscar-winning version of the tale.
If you’re in the mood for political-light: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller dramatizes the infamous Salem Witch Trials, written to parallel the persecution of alleged communists during McCarthyism. When a group of girls are caught dancing in the woods in the nude, they claim to have been bewitched, leading to the accusations of witchcraft of over 100 residents.
If you’re ready for a magnum opus: Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill
This semi-autobiographical play by Eugene O’Neill is widely considered to be the magnum opus of the famed writer and one of the finest American plays of the 20th century. The story looks at one day in the life of the Tyrone family, as their mother returns from an unsuccessful treatment for morphine addiction, one of their sons begins to show symptoms of Tuberculosis, and the other son and father fight through it all as they battle the issues within their family. It won the Tony Award for Best Play when it premiered on Broadway in 1956.
If you’re still lamenting missing your chance to see Laurie Metcalf on Broadway this season: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
2020’s revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf had been in previews for less than one week when Broadway shuttered. So if you missed your chance to see Laurie Metcalf in the role of a lifetime, buckle up for your ride into George and Martha’s living room, and into their toxic marriage.
If your Facebook status was ever set to “It’s complicated”: Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire
David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 play entitled Good People tells the story of Margie, single mother to an adult daughter with special needs named Joyce. When Margie loses her job, she turns to her high school boyfriend–and unbeknownst to him, father of her daughter–hoping he’ll hire her. The conversation devolves into accusations, allusions and insults, showing how what may seem like a simple choice can actually change your whole world.
If you’re so over the New York City prep school scene: God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
Yasmina Reza chronicles the heartbreaking-yet-hilarious struggle of two sets of parents as they meet one evening to resolve the matter of one son hurting the other. Four adults devolve into children as they scream over and at each other, hurling insults and blame in lieu of what should have been a productive conversation. This play was also adapted into a remarkably good dramedy (simply called Carnage) starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly.
If you’re in YA lit and have a (very) dark sense of humor: Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead by Bert V. Royal
This unauthorized continuation by Bert V. Royal finds the Peanuts gang as troubled high school students. It explores the effects of a variety of today’s troubles, including drugs, sexuality and suicide, all while tugging at your nostalgic heartstrings. It opens with CB (Charlie Brown) and his sister at a funeral for their dog, who recently contracted rabies and was put down after “killing a little yellow bird” – and only gets more twisted from there.