Books

Plays books: 15 theatrical reads

Written for the stage but just as good a read as any novel, a plays book is a book that contains the script of one or more dramatic plays. Perhaps you haven't picked up a plays book since high school drama, or maybe they remind you of traumatic Shakespeare readings in English class - but many plays books make for an enthralling read. This list of 15 plays books includes well-known classics like A Streetcar Named Desire and Twelve Angry Men alongside modern award-winners including Water by the Spoonful and Wit. Whether you read them quietly in your favorite chair, or act them out with a dramatic flair - this list of plays books will surely entertain.

By Quiara Alegría Hudes
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Somewhere in Philadelphia, a soldier has returned from Iraq and is struggling to find his place in the world. Somewhere in a chat room, recovering addicts forge an unbreakable bond of support and love. The boundaries of family and community are stretched across continents and cyberspace as birth families splinter and online families collide.
By Tennessee Williams
From American playwright Tennessee Williams, this iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning play famously recounts how the faded and promiscuous Blanche DuBois is pushed over the edge by her sexy and brutal brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski.
By August Wilson
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, this modern American classic is about family, and the legacy of slavery in America.
By Arthur Miller
The Pulitzer Prize-winning tragedy of a salesman’s deferred American dream. In the person of Willy Loman, the aging, failing salesman who makes his living riding on a smile and a shoeshine, Arthur Miller redefined the tragic hero as a man whose dreams are at once insupportably vast and dangerously insubstantial.
By Suzan-Lori Parks
A darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity. The play tells the story of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers whose names were given to them as a joke, foretelling a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment. Haunted by the past, the brothers are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future. Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
By Edward Albee
George, a disillusioned academic, and Martha, his caustic wife, have just come home from a faculty party. When a handsome young professor and his wife stop by for a nightcap, an innocent night of fun and games quickly turns dark and dangerous. Long-buried resentment and rage are unleashed as George and Martha turn their rapier-sharp wits against each other, using their guests as pawns in their verbal sparring. By night's end, the secrets of both couples are uncovered and the lies they cling to are exposed.
By George Bernard Shaw
The Pygmalion of legend falls in love with his perfect female statue and persuades Venus to bring her to life so that he can marry her. But Shaw radically reworks Ovid’s tale to give it a feminist slant: while Higgins teaches Eliza Doolittle to speak and act like a duchess, she also asserts her independence, adamantly refusing to be his creation.
By Reginald Rose
The famous American play about the U.S. legal system centers on Juror Eight, who is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. Eight sets his sights on getting the other jurors to look at the situation clearly, not affected by their personal prejudices or biases. Rose deliberately and carefully peels away the layers of artifice from the men and allows a fuller picture to form of them - and of America, at its best and worst.
By Thorton Wilder
Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.
By Lorraine Hansberry
This groundbreaking play starred Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeill, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands in the Broadway production which opened in 1959. Set on Chicago's South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family.
By Eugene O'Neill
Long Day's Journey into Night was written in 1940 but not staged until 1956, after O'Neill's death. Unashamedly autobiographical, it is, as he puts it himself in the dedicatory note, 'a play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood', a harrowing attempt to understand himself and his family.
By Ntozake Shange
A revolutionary, award-winning play by a lauded playwright and poet about the experiences of women of color. From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning play has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country.
By David Mamet
Winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, David Mamet's scalding comedy is about small-time, cutthroat real esate salesmen trying to grind out a living by pushing plots of land on reluctant buyers in a never-ending scramble for their fair share of the American dream.
By Margaret Edson
Margaret Edson's powerfully imagined Pulitzer Prize–winning play examines what makes life worth living through her exploration of one of existence's unifying experiences - mortality - while she also probes the vital importance of human relationships. What we as her audience take away from this remarkable drama is a keener sense that, while death is real and unavoidable, our lives are ours to cherish or throw away.
By Oscar Wilde
Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gwendolen as Ernest, while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack's ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack's country home on the same weekend, pandemonium breaks loose.

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