Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff discover the perils of love, assumed identities, and telling the truth in Oscar Wilde's classic play.
Hamlet is commonly regarded as one of the greatest plays ever written. Drawing on Danish chronicles and the Elizabethan vogue for revenge tragedy, Shakespeare created a play that is at once a philosophic treatise, a family drama, and a supernatural thriller. In the wake of his father's death, Prince Hamlet finds that his Uncle Claudius has swiftly taken the throne and married his mother, Queen Gertrude. The ghost of the dead king then appears and charges Claudius with 'murder most foul.' Hamlet is called to revenge his father's death: but will he be able to act before it is too late?
The Seagull is the first of what are generally considered to be the four major plays by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov. The play was written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. It dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the ingenue Nina, the fading leading lady Irina Arkadina, her son the experimental playwright Konstantin Treplyov, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin. (Wikipedia)
An old theatre under new management; a diva who thinks she can sing; a young ingenue who really can; a masked man who wreaks havoc if he doesn't get his own way. Secrets, intrigues, falling chandeliers! The Phantom of the Opera is here!
Inheritors, (1921) by American dramatist Susan Glaspell concerns the legacy of an idealistic farmer who wills his highly coveted midwest farmland to the establishment of a college (Act I.) Forty years later, when his granddaughter stands up for the rights of Hindu nationals to protest at the college her grandfather founded, she jeopardizes funding for the college itself and sets herself against her own uncle, president of the institution's trustees (Acts II and III.) Ultimately, she defies her family's wishes, and as a consequence is bound for prison herself (Act IV.) The play was a stirring defense of free speech and an individual's ability to stand for his or her own ideal during a time of aggressive anti-Communist politics in the US. Inheritors was first performed at Provincetown Playhouse in 1922, the last of Glaspell's plays presented there. It has been revived in New York City by Mirror Repertory in 1983 and Metropolitan Playhouse in 2005.
A Family-drama in three acts. Like many of Ibsen's better-known plays, Ghosts is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality.
Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts was first published in 1881 and staged in 1882, and like his earlier play A Doll's House, profoundly shocked his contemporaries. Dubbed "a dirty deed done in public" by one of its critics, the play focuses on (among other things) venereal disease, euthanasia, and incest. The original title literally means "the ones who return," and the play is about how we can deal with the awful legacy of the past.
This is the second installment in Sophocles's Theban Plays that chronicles the tragic fates of Oedipus and his family. After fulfilling the prophecy that predicted he would kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus blinds himself and leaves Thebes, to wander in the wilderness accompanied by his daughters Antigone and Ismene.
The play begins years after Oedipus has taken the throne of Thebes. The Theban chorus cries out to him for salvation from the plague sent by the gods in response to Laius's murder. Oedipus searches for the murderer, unaware that he himself is guilty of that crime.
The blind prophet Teiresias is called upon to aid the search, but, after his warning against following through with it, Oedipus oppugns him as the murderer, even though he is blind and aged. In response, an angry Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is looking for himself, causing the king to become enraged in incredulity. He then accuses the prophet of conspiring with Creon, Jocasta's brother, to overthrow him.
Oedipus calls for one of Laius's former servants, the only surviving witness of the murder, who fled the city when Oedipus became king in order to avoid being the one to reveal the truth. Soon a messenger from Corinth arrives to inform the king of the death of Polybus, whom Oedipus still believes to be his real father. At this point, the messenger informs him that he was in fact adopted and that his true parentage is unknown. In the subsequent discussions between Oedipus, Jocasta, the servant and the messenger, the second-mentioned surmises the truth and runs away in shame.
Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In it, Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic General, has just returned from her honeymoon with George Tesman, an aspiring young academic, reliable but not brilliant, who has combined research with their honeymoon. The reappearance of Tesman's academic rival, Eilert Lovborg, throws their lives into disarray.
Three Sisters is a naturalistic play about the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world. It describes the lives and aspirations of the Prozorov family, the three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and their brother Andrei. They are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence. The sisters are refined and cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow; however for the past eleven years they have been living in a small provincial town. Moscow is a major symbolic element: the sisters are always dreaming of it and constantly express their desire to return. They identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. However as the play develops Moscow never materializes and they all see their dreams recede further and further. Meaning never presents itself and they are forced to seek it out for themselves.
Shaw, George Bernard
Don Juan in Hell is an excerpt (Act 3, Scene 2) from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. It is often performed as a stand-alone play. In it, three characters from Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Don Juan, Dona Ana, and the statue of the Commendatore, Dona Ana’s father) meet in Hell and, joined by the Devil, have a philosophical debate on a variety of subjects, including Heaven and Hell, men, women and marriage. In the end, they all decide where they will spend eternity.
Othello is the story of a cross-cultural romance between the title character, a noble moor who is a general in the Venetian army, and Desdemona, a beautiful and virtuous Venetian lady. The newly-married couple fall prey to the machinations of Iago, Othello's jealous ensign, who plots to destroy their union.
Shaw, George Bernard
The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Kitty Warren, a rich woman, described by the author as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman" and her daughter, Vivie. Mrs Warren is a middle-aged woman whose Cambridge-educated daughter, Vivie, is horrified to discover the sinister way her mother acquired her fortune.
Schiller's tragedy depicts the final days of Mary, Queen of Scots, who has been imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, because of her potential claim on the English throne. The action of the play revolves around an attempt to rescue Mary from prison and Elizabeth's indecision over whether or not to have her executed. The 1801 translation is by Joseph Mellish, a friend of Schiller's.
Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, first published in 1892, is about architect Halvard Solness, who despite personal tragedy (including the death of his two sons) has risen to the top of his profession. He has succeeded partly through ruthless competition and exploitation and partly through a seeming ability to force his will on others. His unhappy wife Aline mourns for their lost life, and resents his interest in various young women, including his bookkeeper Kaia Fosli. Solness disregards the ambitions of other architects, including Knut Brovik and his son Ragnar, and seeks solace in the advice of family physician and friend Dr. Herdal. With the entrance of Hilda Wangel, a young woman whom he met as a child ten years ago, his life acquires a new focal point, one that will mean the end of him.
In 'The Swan Song' an aging actor reminisces about his life and the parts he's played. The piece takes a tragic look at ambition and the sacrifices that must be made in order to succeed. Chekhov’s ability to capture and explore human nature and experience is showcased here.
Barrie, J. M.
From the author of Peter Pan:
Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.
Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor. (Intro from Wikipedia and TriciaG)
August Strindberg's naturalistic one-act drama has only three characters: Julie, a passionate young noblewoman; Jean, her father's ambitious valet; and Kristin, the cook, who is also Jean's fiancee. The play is set on Midsummer Eve, when everyone is reveling, and Julie and Jean get a bit too intimate - with tragic results.
Davis, Richard Harding
Miss Civilization, a one act comedy, tells the story of a young woman who matches wits with three burglars attempting to rob her house. This recording was made in Chicago at the LibriVox World Gathering in May 2007.
Alcott, Louisa May
Fans of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women will remember the elaborate plays which the March sisters loved to perform. This volume, published after Alcott's death, is a compilation of the real plays written by her and her sisters, which were fictionalized in Little Women.
Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke's court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke's mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father's plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him.
Nicolai (anglicised Nicholas in this translation) Ivanov, a middle-aged public servant, is unhappy. His wife Anna, disinherited by her family after converting from Judaism, is dying of tuberculosis. He is deeply in debt. And his best friend’s daughter is infatuated with him. Comedy and tragedy ensue in truly Chekhovian fashion. An example of the young Chekhov’s maturing style, Ivanov is an early harbinger of themes that would recur throughout his work.
Upton Sinclair is best known for his novel The Jungle, an expose of the meatpacking industry. He was also a playwright whose works for the stage reflected the same progressive viewpoints found in his other writing. In The Machine, published as part of Sinclair's 1912 collection Plays of Protest, Socialist activists show a rich man's daughter the truth about the society in which she has been raised.
In She Stoops to Conquer, or The Mistakes of a Night, a young lady pretends to be a servant in order to win the notice of a young man who is painfully shy around women of his own class. Hilarious misadventures and mayhem ensue before matters are neatly wrapped up at the end. This play, one of the great English comedies, was first performed in 1773 and continues to be very popular with audiences today.
A small coastal town in Norway is experiencing an economic boom from its newly found hot springs. When Dr. Thomas Stockmann finds that the waters are contaminated and dangerous, the people refuse to accept his statement, and Dr. Stockmann's friends turn against him.
The Way of the World is a play written by British playwright William Congreve. It premiered in 1700 in the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. It is widely regarded as being one of the best Restoration comedies written and is still performed sporadically to this day.
The play is based around the two lovers Mirabell and Millamant (originally famously played by John Verbruggen and Anne Bracegirdle). In order for the two to get married and receive Millamant's full dowry, Mirabell must receive the blessing of Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort. Unfortunately, she is a very bitter lady, who despises Mirabell and wants her own nephew, Sir Wilful, to wed Millamant.
Other characters include Fainall who is having a secret affair with Mrs. Marwood, a friend of Mrs. Fainall's, who in turn once had an affair with Mirabell.
Waitwell is Mirabell's servant and is married to Foible, Lady Wishfort's servant. Waitwell pretends to be Sir Rowland and, on Mirabell's command, tries to trick Lady Wishfort into a false engagement.
John Webster's bloody Jacobean tragedy exposes the decadence of the Italian court. The virtuous Duchess of Malfi, a young widow, secretly marries her steward Antonio, and is subsequently persecuted by her brothers: the sexually obsessed and eventually mad Ferdinand, and the corrupt Cardinal.
Even people who claim to hate Shakespearean comedy have to admit that they love A Midsummer Night’s Dream.The original play is already naturally divided into three realms: the mortal world, the faerie realm and the play within the play, thus it presents the perfect opportunity to double and triple cast the same actors. So it was really only a matter of time till somebody came up with the crazy idea to stage the whole thing with only three people. Those crazy people are Tony Addison, John Burlinson and Sonia. The outcome of their collaboration is a 3 hour tour-de-force full of surprises: special effects, music, songs. True to the Shakespearean spirit, cross-gender casting was a must, so don't be alarmed when Titania (who will shatter all your preconceptions of the term "fairy queen" forever) enters the stage.Now you're forewarned, and if you still think you're ready, settle back in your armchair and let a bit of faerie into your world. We hope you enjoy the ride.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy was first performed in 1777 and focuses on the intrigues and scandals of the British upper classes. Lady Sneerwell wants to marry Charles Surface, while Joseph Surface wants to marry Maria, an heiress and ward of Sir Peter Teazle. Maria, however, prefers Charles over Joseph. In order to detach her from Charles, Lady Sneerwell and Joseph spread rumors about an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle, Sir Peter's new young wife. Meanwhile, Sir Oliver Surface, newly returned from the East Indies, assumes various disguises to test his nephews' characters. Misunderstandings, mistaken identities, gossip, and bad behavior abound in this uproarious comedy.
Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first produced 22 February 1892 at the St James's Theatre in London. The play was first published in 1893. Like many of Wilde's comedies, it bitingly satirizes the morals of Victorian society, particularly marriage.
The story concerns Lady Windermere, who discovers that her husband may be having an affair with another woman. She confronts her husband but he instead invites the other woman, Mrs Erlynne, to his wife's birthday ball. Angered by her husband's unfaithfulness, Lady Windermere leaves her husband for another lover. Or does she? Is it really possible to trust delicious gossip? Are all men really bad? These and many other questions are raised and if not answered, then held up for public scrutiny in this biting satire of morals and proper behavior. The best known line of the play sums up the central theme:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
—Lord Darlington (from Wikipedia and the reader)
A Woman of No Importance is a play by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. The play premièred on 19 April 1893 at London's Haymarket Theatre. It is a testimony of Wilde's wit and his brand of dark comedy. It looks in particular at English upper class society and has been reproduced on stages in Europe and North America since his death in 1900.
The Bourgeois Gentleman of the title is a middle-class social climber, assured that by learning all the arts of a true and noble gentleman, he shall truly become one. This enables Moliere to satire both the pretentious middle class and the snobbish aristocracy all at one time. Originally presented in 1670 before the court of Louis the 14th with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully, it was more recently re-choreographed by George Balanchine to music by Strauss. This will be a purely spoken version of the original.
The Awakening of Spring is the German dramatist Frank Wedekind's first major play and a seminal work in the modern history of theatre. It is the source material for the contemporary rock musical Spring Awakening. The play criticises the sexually-oppressive culture of fin de siècle Germany and offers a vivid dramatisation of the erotic fantasies that it breeds. Due to the nature of its content, the play has often been banned.
Byron, George Gordon, Lord
Manfred is a dramatic poem in three acts by Lord Byron, and possibly a self confessional work. A noble, Manfred, is haunted by the memory of some unspeakable crime. In seeking for forgetfulness and oblivion, he wanders between his castle and the mountains. He has several encounters with the people who try to assist him, as well as spirits that rule nature and human destiny. The poem explores themes of morality, religion, guilt and the human condition.
The Blue Bird is a 1908 play by Belgian author Maurice Maeterlinck. On the night of Christmas a boy and a girl, Tyltil and Mytil, are visited by Fairy Berilyuna. Fairy's granddaughter is sick and can only be saved by the Blue Bird. Thanks to the Fairy's magic gift children have the opportunity to see the soul of things. Inanimate objects Clocks, Fire, Water, Bread, Sugar, Milk transformed into beings with their own character. Together, they set off on a dangerous journey for the fabulous Blue Bird. The play is inspired with the deep idea of the author "be brave enough to see the hidden."
Knowell, an old man - rumor says Shakespeare originally played this part - tries to spy upon the doings of his potentially wayward son. Meanwhile, Kitely, a merchant, worries so much about being cuckolded by his wife that perhaps it has to happen. All this while a swarm of other interesting characters surround them.
Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays and is thought to be the most famous love story in Western history. It concerns the fate of two very young lovers who would do anything to be together
The Montagues and the Capulets of Verona, Italy, are in the midst of a long-standing feud when Romeo Montague drops in on a masquerade party at the Capulets’. While there he meets and woos the daughter of the house, Juliet. She likewise returns his passion, and their secret meeting later that night on her bedroom balcony begins a series of tragic events that no one could have foretold.
A cheque has been issued for nine pounds but someone has changed it to ninety in the hopes of claiming the money. But who is responsible? Will one man's confession bring us to the truth, or is he covering for someone else?
This is a lovely comedy about the theft of a prostitute's purse by a rich 'young man of good family. It is placed beside the theft of a silver cigarette case from the rich man's father's house by 'a poor devil', with very different repercussions.
The Rover, or The Banish'd Cavaliers, is a play in two parts written by the English author Aphra Behn. The first part features multiple plot lines, dealing with the amorous adventures of a group of Englishmen in Naples at Carnival time. The "rover" of the play's title is Willmore, a rakish naval captain, who falls in love with a young woman named Hellena, who has set out to experience love before her brother sends her to a convent. Complications arise when Angellica Bianca, a famous courtesan, falls in love with Willmore and swears revenge on him for his betrayal. Meanwhile, Hellena's sister Florinda attempts to marry her true love, Colonel Belvile, rather than the man her brother has selected. The third major plot of the play deals with the provincial Blunt, who becomes convinced that a girl has fallen in love with him but is humiliated when she turns out to be a prostitute and a thief.
Scapin is a liar, a schemer, an arrogant meddler who thinks he can make people do anything. And yet sometimes he acts in the cause of good. Here he attempts to help out some secret lovers whose parents would prefer they don't marry.
G. K. Chesterton
George Bernard Shaw goaded the already successful essayist and novelist Chesterton into trying his hand at a play, with this 1913 result. The play examines the powers and mysteries of faith, belief, religion, and of course, magic - a mixture that should be familiar from many of his Father Brown stories. The play's success convinced him to write a couple of other later plays.
"Prometheus Bound" is the only complete tragedy of the Prometheia trilogy, traditionally assumed to be the work of Aeschylus. Jupiter has turned against Prometheus for protecting mankind and has ordered him to be chained to a rock. But Prometheus is comforted by his knowledge of a way to bring about the downfall of Jupiter.
Iphigenia in Aulis is the last extant work of the playwright Euripides. The Greek fleet is waiting at Aulis, Boeotia, with its ships ready to sail for Troy, but it is unable to depart due to a strange lack of wind. After consulting the seer Calchas, the Greek leaders learn that this is no mere meteorological abnormality but rather the will of the goddess Artemis, who is withholding the winds because Agamemnon has caused her offense. Calchas informs the general that in order to appease the goddess, he must sacrifice his eldest daughter, Iphigenia. Agamemnon, in spite of his horror, must consider this seriously because his assembled troops, who have been waiting on the beach and are increasingly restless, may rebel if their bloodlust is not satisfied. He sends a message to his wife, Clytemnestra, telling her to send Iphigenia to Aulis on the pretext that the girl is to be married to the Greek warrior Achilles before he sets off to fight.
In this, the only extant tragedy from Aeschylus' trilogy about the House of Oedipus, Thebes is under siege from Polynices, a former prince of Thebes. After King Oedipus left his city and cursed the princes, Polynices and his brother, Eteocles, decided to rule alternately, switching at the end of every year. However, at the end of his year as king, Eteocles refused to turn power over to his brother and exiled him, fulfilling his father's curse that the two brothers could not rule peacefully. In the action of the play, Polynices and a group of Argive soldiers are attacking Thebes so that he can take his place as ruler. Eteocles must combat both the foreign forces outside the walls and the crazed, frightened women within. Note: The ending of this play is suspect. The lines Antigone and Ismene's entrance to the end may have been added later, either after Sophocles' Theban plays became popular or in the Middle Ages.
The Oresteia is a trilogy by Aeschylus, one of the foremost playwrights of ancient Greece. It encompasses three plays: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Furies. It tells the tragic tale of the House of Atreus, whose inhabitants have been cursed and are doomed to play out their bloody, vengeful destinies. At the beginning of the first part, the Trojan War has ended and the Greek general, Agamemnon, is returning victorious to his wife Clytemnestra. Yet she finds it difficult to forgive his sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia, who was killed to ensure the Greek fleet fair winds in their voyage to Troy. Her desire for vengeance, and its dire consequences, instigates the action of these poetic tragedies.
Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's late romances, which (like The Tempest and The Winter's Tale) combines comedy and tragedy. Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, angers her father when she marries Posthumus, a worthy but penniless gentleman. The King banishes Posthumus, who goes to Rome, where he falls prey to the machinations of Iachimo, who tries to convince him that Imogen will be unfaithful. Meanwhile, the Queen (Imogen's stepmother) plots against her stepdaughter by trying to plan a match between Imogen and her worthless son Cloten.
This is a collection of short stories by the Brothers Grimm, Aesop, Anderson, and more authors, turned into short children's plays by Augusta Stevenson. This collection has seventeen plays in which characters come together and form a classic children's story.
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.