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
      3. Agnes of God by John Pielmeier
      4. The Amen Corner by James Baldwin
      5. American Buffalo by David Mamet
      6. Angels in America by Tony Kushner
      7. Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
      8. Art by Yasmina Reza
      9. Back of the Throat by Yussef El Guindi
      10. Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon
      11. Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon
      12. Belleville by Amy Herzog
      13. Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis
      14. Black Nativity by Langston Hughes
      15. Blackbird by David Harrower
      16. Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward
      17. The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney
      18. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
      19. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
      20. Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood
      21. Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney
      22. Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker
      23. Cock by Mike Bartlett
      24. Constellations by Nick Payne
      25. Contractions by Mike Bartlett
      26. Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley
      27. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
      28. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
      29. Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar
      30. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
      31. The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vega
      32. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
      33. Dunsinane by David Greig
      34. Equus by Peter Shaffer
      35. Everyman by Anonymous
      36. Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith
      37. The Flick by Annie Baker
      38. Fool for Love by Sam Shepard
      39. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
      40. Fucking A by Suzan Lori-Parks
      41. God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
      42. The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett
      43. The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill
      44. Hand to God by Robert Askins
      45. Harvey by Mary Chase
      46. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
      47. The History Boys by Alan Bennett
      48. The Humans by Stephen Karam
      49. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
      50. The Imaginary Invalid by Moliere
      51. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
      52. The Internationalist by Anne Washburn
      53.  Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wills
      54. The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman
      55. Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh
      56. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman
      57. A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
      58. M Butterfly by David Henry Hwang
      59. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson
      60. Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw
      61. Medea by Euripides
      62. Moment by Dierdre Kinahan
      63. The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis
      64. My Children My Africa by Athol Fugard
      65. The Mountain Top by Katori Hall
      66. An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
      67. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
      68. Orestes by Euripides
      69. Private Lives by Noel Coward
      70. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
      71. Radio Golf by August Wilson
      72. Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
      73. Real Women Have Curves by Josefina Lopez
      74. Reasons to Be Pretty by Neil LaBute
      75. The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard
      76. Rock n Roll by Tom Stoppard
      77. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
      78. Ruined by Lynn Nottage
      79. The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
      80. Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason
      81. Shining City by Conor McPherson
      82. A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller
      83. Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven by Young Jean Lee
      84. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
      85. Sucker Punch by Roy Williams
      86. Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts
      87. Tartuffe by Moliere
      88. Tender Napalm by Philip Ridley
      89. Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg
      90. Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies
      91. Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein
      92. Tribes by Nina Raine
      93. Venus in Fur by David Ives
      94. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
      95. Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes
      96. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
      97. Wit by Margaret Edson
      98. The Year of the Dragon by Frank Chin
      99. The Zoo Story by Edward Albee
      100. Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez