Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day Thirty Nine: My Favorite Plays

I will say this, coming up with 40 topics for every day of Lent has been so difficult for me. There have been so few news events that I wanted to cover.  The Draft is still a while away, so every night has been a bit of a struggle.  Only Sundays have provided me with a ready topic with my weekly posts on The Walking Dead.  I'm going to end the regular posts with one more top 10 list.  Tonight's list are my favorite plays.  Some I have taught; some I've just read for fun.

#10-Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen:  This play was sitting on my bookshelf at work for a long time.  I picked it up one day during lunch and began reading it. I was surprised how much I liked it.  Ghosts deals with the consequences of bad choices, philandering, and, of course, dark family secrets.
#9-The Crucible by Arthur Miller: I have taught this play practically every year that I have been a teacher. I love the play because over 60 years later the themes presented in the play ring true. The play is about the madness that was the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  Miller wrote the play to reflect the events of McCarthyism during the 1950s.  Lies, deceit, vanity, greed, envy, and revenge lead to one of the darkest periods in American history.
#8-The Piano Lesson by August Wilson: I first read this for a grad school class. This play focuses on a families struggle to decide what to do with a piano carved by their great-grandfather.  It divides a brother and a sister who each feel they deserve the precious and unique piano.  It is ultimately a play about family and reconciling the past.
#7-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: I read this one for grad school, as well.  I'm working up the nerve to one day teach it.  Most high schools read The Glass Menagerie. I'm not a fan.  Streetcar deals with an aging southern belle who cannot accept that she has lost her status in society and the consequences of her actions. It manifests itself in a conflict between her and the brother-in-law she despises.
#6-An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen: It is a play about perceptions. A Doctor, in an effort to protect the people of his town, stands up for his principles, and becomes reviled by the very people he is trying to protect.
#5-A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry:  Raisin recounts the life of an African-American family struggling to find their way in Chicago in the 1950s.  Their struggle is not just with the racism of 1950s America, but with each finding their identity and fulfilling his or her own dream.
#4-Macbeth by William Shakespeare: Although it is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, I've never taught it, but I love it. It deals with themes of betrayal, corruption, and ambition as Macbeth betrays his king to fulfill a prophecy and the destruction that the betrayal brings to the kingdom.
#3-Oedipus Rex by Sophocles: It's the oldest play on this list. First performed in 429 B.C., it is well over 2000 years old, but it still has themes that ring true today-identity, relationships between children and their parents, and the consequences of poor choices.  Hopefully, not many of us will discover those the way Oedipus did.
#2-Hamlet by William Shakespeare:  A Shakespearean whodunit, as Prince Hamlet tries to uncover the conspiracy to kill his father.  Like Macbeth, his methods for trying to find and punish the murderer, ultimately destroys his kingdom.
#1-A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen:  Like most of his plays, Ibsen's A Doll's House throws a wrench into the morals of Victorian society.  The play has a woman stand up to her husband in the most profound way possible to show that a woman's voice is just as important as a man's in this world.  Its themes cover sacrifice, loss of identity, control, and the roles of men and women in society.

To add to this list: 5 plays I hate: Death of a Salesman, Romeo and Juliet, The Glass Menagerie, Our Town, and The Play about the Baby.  I truly dislike these plays. I would only teach these plays if there was absolutely no other plays to teach.

Until next time, "I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."

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