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100 Must-Read Plays Not by Shakespeare

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Teresa Preston

Staff Writer

Since 2008, Teresa Preston has been blogging about all the books she reads at Shelf Love. She supports her book habit by working as a magazine editor at a professional association in the Washington, DC, area, which is (in)conveniently located just a few steps from a used bookstore. When she’s not reading or editing, she’s likely to be attending theatre, practicing yoga, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again, or doting on her toothless orange cat, Anya. Twitter: @teresareads

Besides reading, one of my favorite things to do is to go to the theatre. A good play offers many of the same pleasures as a good book—compelling and creative stories, exciting characters, riveting drama, and side-splitting comedy—all packed in (usually) less than three hours. The ideal way to experience a play is to see it live, but that’s not always possible. Not every area has a lively theatre scene, and tickets are not always cheap. If that’s the case, reading a script can be a great alternative—and you get to have the fun of imagining how you’d cast and stage the show yourself.

So for those theatre fans who can’t get out to see as many plays as they’d like, or those who’d like to explore the form more deeply, I offer this list of plays, presented in alphabetical order. I’ve tried to come up with examples from a variety of eras and styles so there’s something for everyone. (I have left off William Shakespeare, because I’m sure you know about him already.)

      1. 33 Variations by Moises Kaufman
      2. 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog
  • Agnes of God by John Pielmeier
  • The Amen Corner by James Baldwin
  • American Buffalo by David Mamet
  • Angels in America by Tony Kushner
  • Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
  • Art by Yasmina Reza
  • Back of the Throat by Yussef El Guindi
  • Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon
  • Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon
  • Belleville by Amy Herzog
  • Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis
  • Black Nativity by Langston Hughes
  • Blackbird by David Harrower
  • Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward
  • The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
  • The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
  • Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood
  • Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker
  • Cock by Mike Bartlett
  • Constellations by Nick Payne
  • Contractions by Mike Bartlett
  • Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  • Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vega
  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  • Dunsinane by David Greig
  • Equus by Peter Shaffer
  • Everyman by Anonymous
  • Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith
  • The Flick by Annie Baker
  • Fool for Love by Sam Shepard
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
  • Fucking A by Suzan Lori-Parks
  • God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
  • The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett
  • The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill
  • Hand to God by Robert Askins
  • Harvey by Mary Chase
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  • The History Boys by Alan Bennett
  • The Humans by Stephen Karam
  • An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
  • The Imaginary Invalid by Moliere
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Internationalist by Anne Washburn
  •  Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wills
  • The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman
  • Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh
  • The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman
  • A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
  • M Butterfly by David Henry Hwang
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson
  • Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw
  • Medea by Euripides
  • Moment by Dierdre Kinahan
  • The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis
  • My Children My Africa by Athol Fugard
  • The Mountain Top by Katori Hall
  • An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
  • Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
  • Orestes by Euripides
  • Private Lives by Noel Coward
  • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  • Radio Golf by August Wilson
  • Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  • Real Women Have Curves by Josefina Lopez
  • Reasons to Be Pretty by Neil LaBute
  • The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard
  • Rock n Roll by Tom Stoppard
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
  • Ruined by Lynn Nottage
  • The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
  • Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason
  • Shining City by Conor McPherson
  • A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller
  • Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven by Young Jean Lee
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Sucker Punch by Roy Williams
  • Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts
  • Tartuffe by Moliere
  • Tender Napalm by Philip Ridley
  • Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg
  • Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies
  • Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein
  • Tribes by Nina Raine
  • Venus in Fur by David Ives
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  • Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
  • Wit by Margaret Edson
  • The Year of the Dragon by Frank Chin
  • The Zoo Story by Edward Albee
  • Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez