Friday, 11 May 2018

My Favourite Plays

Theatre is a huge part of my life, and it's also an incredibly expensive part of my life. Reading plays is also super fun because I get to be the director, dramaturg, casting director, and everything else. I get to see the most ideal production ever in my mind. Basically I love theatre and I love plays. So I wanted to share some of my favourite plays.

Angels in America by Tony Kushner
Nick Hern Books | 290 Pages | Goodreads Link
Favourite Production: National Theatre

Angels in America by Tony Kushner is a fucking epic. The first time I read it, I finished it and immediately turned back to page one and started over. The interactions between characters, the long winding monologues, the intensity of the emotion, and the magical realism element. Everything in this play is turned up to 11, but it doesn't overwhelm in a bad way. While I like Perestroika (part 2) more than Millenium Approaches (part 1), they create this spectacular story together. It's the most stunning kalidoscope of huge themes, beautifully complex characters, and just so much emotion. I cannot think about this play without being confronted by these huge, immortal themes, but ultimately feeling utterly safe. The play ends with Prior Walter wishing the audience "more life". And this play, that deals with religion, death, politics, the AIDS crisis, love, loss, and life. And while all this has the potential to crush you under the weight of the topics, the play ultimately makes me feel weightless. You can read my full review here.

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

This is my favourite Shakespeare play, hands down. I love Midsummer, and I love the craziness around it. The four lovers at the center of it are amazing, and the players are some of my favourite parts. But I will say, this play is nothing without Puck. I had a Shakespeare professor dress up as Puck one year for halloween when I was in his class, and jump into the classroom and break into his first speech. It was amazing, and just the magic and almost hallucinatory effect this play has makes it one of my favourites.

Angels in America by Tony Kushner
Theatre Communication's Group | 77 Pages | Goodreads Link
Favourite Production: Broadway Production (Recorded for PBS Great Performances)

So I just recently read Indecent by Paula Vogel, and wow. This play shows a really solid and beautiful mastery on words and language. The play, telling the story of the Sholem Asch play, God of Vengeance, and the obscenity trial it faced, takes place in multiple countries, in multiple languages, over a huge span of time. There are 7 actors and a few musicians, taking on so many roles, and all of it is done seamlessly. It's such a great example of theatrical ingenuity and reading it is such a fascinating experience, and one that really got me in the feels.

Gertrude and Alice by Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Perry
Playwrights Canada Press | 73 Pages | Goodreads Link
Original Production: Buddies in Bad Times

I just read this, a few weeks ago, but I can't get it out of my head. I'm such a sucker for anything Beat Generation, and this play is no exception. I really loved the portrayal of both of these women, and the way that the text was combined with things the actual Gertrude and Alice said and wrote made everything more raw and real. I just wrote my review on this, which you can read here, so I won't waffle on about this one too much longer.

Peter and Alice by John Logan
Oberon Modern Plays | 70 Pages | Goodreads Link

Another play with Alice in the title. But a very different Alice this time. John Logan's play is an imagining about what would happen if Peter Llewelyn-Davis, the real Peter Pan, and Alice Liddell, the real Alice in Wonderland, were to have met. What would their conversation look like. In what starts as realism, and slowly toes the line of surrealism, the play features figments of their imagination. Alice (in Wonderland) and Peter (Pan) join their real life counterparts on stage, making their very intense conversation a little more real, as they face the fictionalized versions of their childhood selves. It's such an interesting play, and if you can get your hands on it, I recommend it.

Dr.Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
Favourite Production: Globe Theatre Production

I love Kit Marlowe. Marlowe is a legend. A spy, a playwright, a notable queer man during Renaissance England? What a lad. And Faustus is one of his great works. The story of Faustus, who sells his soul to the devil for knowledge, isn't a new one, but no one's done it like Marlowe. The entire play is one sexually fueled, competitive seduction between Faustus and Mephistopheles, the demon sent to him, until the finale, where the play takes a sharp turn to become a morality piece. It's such an interesting piece, and in my opinion, a little more accessible than some of Shakespeare's works. If you're going to read a play from the Early Modern period, read this one.  

I hope I've given you a good summer reading list for plays, and share with my what plays you think I'd enjoy, or ones that I'm missing out on! I'll probably do another one of these for my favourite musicals, so keep your eyes out for that! Thanks for reading!

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