Recommend Me Some Plays

Hi there.
I have an Acting II class and I’m supposed to do two scenes with a partner. She is a theatre major and asked me to pick one of them.

Well, I’m a psychology major and have seen two contemporary plays (both of which I couldn’t stand). I have not read any either since I prefer reading novels and not plays.

So anybody have any playwrights or plays they might recommend?
The plays have to be contemporary (after 1850), not film or television and professional plays (meaning by the professor: not written by me, actually published and performed).

I’m looking for something that excites you. A play that is good meaty acting stuff.

Any direction and advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks,


Playwrights…I love Eugene O’Neill! An amazing and prolific 20th century playwright.

Recent notable plays…You can google them to find more info…I don’t have time to right now.

One fun one that would be quite interesting for you two…

The Vagina Monologues

Porgy & Bess
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Saturday Night Fever
Anything Goes
As You Like It
The Graduate
The Producers

Those are recent notables I have seen in the past two years…Very fun lines and great stimulating plot’s…

You might try something by Oscar Wilde, such as The Importance of Being Earnest.

Or maybe Tom Stoppard: The Real Thing or even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Prelude to a Kiss (I forget the playwright) has great dialogue between a man and a woman. That was a fun show to do…and you can rent the movie if you like.

All in the Timing by David Ives is a great funny play that’s actually 6 playlets. The first playlet is called “Sure Thing” and it’s really funny and challenging, and you need a bell.

Glengarry Glen Ross. Super-charged drama, very intense. And if you can master the rhythyms of dialogue in it, you’ll be sittin pretty.

All-guy cast, though. Don’t now if that’s a roadblock for you.

Definitely David Ives… funny stuff. I did a duet in high school of Variations on the Death of Trotsky. We got a lot of laughs.

Also second Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, or anything by Tom Stoppard.

For more dramatic stuff: Giving up the Ghost by Cherrie Moraga, depending on how intense your subject matter can be (rape, lesbianism, crossdressing)

Here are two plays loaded with meaty, highly dramatic scenes.

“A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee.

Nothing dull or dreary about either of these dramas. They are full of gut wrenching emotion and complicated characters who scream at each other. And there are some very good scenes in each of these plays which involve just a man and a woman on stage.

“Break a leg”


Try Edward Albee’s Zoo Story. Only two characters in the entire play, good dialogue really well written.

I see that Angler’s nominated “Virginia Woolf,” also by Albee - both are good plays, though I’m a big fan of absurdist theatre, so I’d probably go with Zoo Story.

BytopianDream —

I made have been a dope by assuming you’re a guy and you needed a scene with a male & female on the stage at the same time. Checked your profile - no indication.

If you are indeed both female — try this one …but it won’t be easy!

“The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson. There are some fantastic scenes between the characters Hellen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan.

But like I said … this is pretty tough stuff to pull off.

Hellen Keller is deaf & blind, and Annie Sullivan has an Irish accident.

“Knock 'em dead”


I mean “I may have been…” not “I made have been…” Typing too fast…



Angler - Welcome to SDMB! Nice name, we share a common interest!

Plus great advice on “the miracle worker” I loved it.

Oh and don’t wory abut spelling, and grammer see here :slight_smile:

Harold Pinter. If you are in fact a man partnered with a woman as we seem to be assuming you could try something from Betrayal* or even The Hothouse, which have interesting female roles.

Tina Howe is also great. You could try Museum or The Art of Dining.

I’ll third the nomination of David Ives. I went to see his anthology of short plays, All in the Timing. I nearly passed out from the pain in my side and oxygen deprivation brought on by laughing my ass off. It was a little awkward, though, since I was just about the only person laughing – you have to love wordplay to appreciate it.

All in the Timing includes several plays that can be done with just one man and one woman, though you might need some offstage help for a couple of them. My nomination is The Universal Language. Sheer genius.

Thanks everybody, this has given me some great starting points.

And welcome to you Angler.

Thanks again, time to go searching and reading.

A fourth for David Ives. Totally brilliant, sharp, hilarious stuff. I’m giggling right now remembering some of it.

No Exit is really good.

A few of my all-time faves:

After Liverpool by Some Guy WhosenameIcan’t remember, A Life In The Theatre by David Mamet, and The Bald Soprano, by the brilliant Eugene Ionesco.

If you want to go with some classics, Antigone and Oedipus Rex are good for heartwrending and tearjerking. The poetry of Oedipus just floors me, I mean really. It makes me want to swoon.

And of course, being a Madonna fan, I am compelled to mention Up For Grabs, which was hilarious (“Oh my GOD, Manny, that’s too BIG for me!”), and Jesus Hopped The A Train.

Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Most of Neil Simon’s catalogue is good stuff.

How about Burn This, by Lanford Wilson?

It’s got some good guy/girl scenes. It’s about a dancer who dies, and his brother, named Pale, comes into the lives of the dancer’s friends.

Edward Norton has recently performed this play, and a link can be found here

What, nobody’s recommended George Bernard Shaw? Great stuff, and not all cerebral, despite what you may have heard.

Saint Joan
Man and Superman
(especially the “Don Juan in Hell” scenes
Caesar and Cleopatra
The Man of Destiny

and a great many others.

My personal favorite is Robert Bolt. He wrote the screenplays for Lawrence of Arabia, A Man for All Seasons, Dr. Zhivago, The Mission, and others, but he first made his mark as a plywright:

A Man for all Seasons
Vivat! Nivat Regina!
State of Revolution

A couple of my other favorites:

There’s Peter Schaeffer:

The Royal Hunt of the Sun

or Bernard Pomerabnce’s The Elephant Man. Or Goldman’s The Lion in Winter

Or The Madness of George III.

Don’t forget comedies. I love the plays of Neil Simon, and they’ve been gathered into at least three large volumes. Or try Woody Allen’s old plays Don’t Drink the Water and Play it Again Sam. Or Steve Martin’s plays.
You can get copies of the plays at bookshops specializing in plays, or via the companies that sell them (Baker’s plays, for instance).