I've posted before about the importance of trying new things when reading. Everyone has their comfort zone, that reading niche that they feel safe in, but branching out is a key way to escape a reading rut. How can you knock something if you haven't tried it? I'm guilty here as well. I love realistic fiction, and often I don't want to give other genres a try. But when I read some science fiction, there was stuff there that I really liked, and I can now add a few good ol' sci-fi reads to my favorites list. Lately I've been reading a few plays that I want to talk about. A whole different form of writing to be enjoyed! The chances for exciting dialogue (which, of course, is a huge part of almost all plays) are many. Here are a few recent plays that I've read and love:
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. This play is hilarious, subversive and very, very clever. It focuses on the exploits of two minor characters found in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Although I didn't always understand what was happening--the play's genre is, after all, absurdist--I could laugh at the improbably weird events and appreciate the well-written dialogue.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: Another comedy, this one in typical Wilde form as a trivial satire of marriage and Victorian society. Hilarity ensues when two friends, both leading an alternate life under the name of Ernest, have their lies catch up to them as they discover that the women they love only like them because of their attraction to their names. The comic exchanges between characters in this play were laugh out loud funny. Plays, even older ones (this one was first performed in 1895), can be still be completely modern and comical if they're written well (and Earnest definitely is).
Our Town by Thornton Wilder: I read this play to prepare for my position on the production staff of my school's performance of it, and it is incredibly well written. More of a tragedy, the play is told in three parts: Daily Life, Love and Marriage, and Death and Dying. It focuses on the events of George and Emily as they grow up and fall in love in the small New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners. Our Town is cruel--called "metatheatrical", it constantly reminds you that you're watching/reading a play, often just as you become invested in part of the storyline. But despite the heartbreak, it's an incredibly detailed and intelligent work with seriously lovable characters. I can't wait to see it performed!
A note: I haven't seen any of these plays performed, so I'm interested to hear the thoughts of those who have. How does seeing a play on a stage compare to simply reading it? Tell me in the comments below!