The 10 most Important
American Plays
So which plays rise to the top over time?
 The Denver Post asked a long list of theater
professionals nationwide to give ...
 Our informal survey asked 177
playwrights, directors, actors, professors, agents, p
roducers, students, bloggers, critic...
Young people vs. their elders…
 Thompson said he'd love to know what the young
people of the theater world said for this ...
1. “Death of a Salesman”
"Death of a Salesman"
 By: Arthur Miller
 Year: 1949
 Survey points: 861
 The story: The elus...
2. “Angels in America”
"Angels in America"
 By: Tony Kushner
 Year: 1991
 Survey points: 800
 The story: A two-part, s...
3. “A Streetcar Named Desire”
"A Streetcar Named Desire"
 By: Tennessee Williams
 Year: 1947
 Survey points: 774
 The ...
4. “Long Day’s Journey into Night”
"Long Day's Journey Into Night"
 By: Eugene O'Neill
 Year: 1956
 Survey points: 650
...
5. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"
 By: Edward Albee
 Year: 1962
 Survey points: 608
...
6. “Our Town”
"Our Town"
 By: Thornton Wilder
 Year: 1938
 Survey points: 591
 The story: A 1930s stage manager narrat...
7. “The Glass Menagerie”
"The Glass Menagerie"
 By: Tennessee Williams
 Year: 1944
 Survey points: 336
 The story: A f...
8. “A raisin in the Sun”
"A Raisin in the Sun"
 By: Lorraine Hansberry
 Year: 1959
 Survey points: 314
 The story: A f...
9. “The Crucible”
"The Crucible"
 By: Arthur Miller
 Year: 1953
 Survey points: 300
 The story: The Salem witch trials...
10. “Fences”
"Fences"
 By: August Wilson
 Year: 1983
 Survey points: 230
 The story: Set in 1957, a former Negro Leagu...
The 10 most important american plays
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10 Most Important American Plays

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The 10 most important american plays

  1. 1. The 10 most Important American Plays
  2. 2. So which plays rise to the top over time?  The Denver Post asked a long list of theater professionals nationwide to give an opinion. Their cumulative take: U.S. writers have produced only two plays in nearly 50 years that belong beside the very best, Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" and August Wilson's "Fences.“
  3. 3.  Our informal survey asked 177 playwrights, directors, actors, professors, agents, p roducers, students, bloggers, critics and theatergoers to rank the 10 most important American plays ever written.  The top 10 largely reflect a world of booze and brawls, of the disintegrating American family and the gross inequity of the American dream.  And the average age of those plays is 52
  4. 4. Young people vs. their elders…  Thompson said he'd love to know what the young people of the theater world said for this survey. Surprisingly, they fell almost completely in line with their elders. No matter how the survey was broken down, whether by gender or age, the results yielded the exact same top 10 plays, with only slight differences in ordering.  The most significant difference: Women, and all voters under 30, ranked "Angels" No. 1, with "Salesman" second.
  5. 5. 1. “Death of a Salesman” "Death of a Salesman"  By: Arthur Miller  Year: 1949  Survey points: 861  The story: The elusive American dream drives washed-up Willy Loman into a tree.  Did you know? When the film was released in 1951, the wary Columbia studio that released it also shot a short companion film titled "Life of a Salesman," praising sales as a profession and condemning Willy Loman. It ran with the main feature.  Quote: "Attention must be paid."  Most recently: At Thunder River, Carbondale, 2007
  6. 6. 2. “Angels in America” "Angels in America"  By: Tony Kushner  Year: 1991  Survey points: 800  The story: A two-part, seven-hour political call to arms for the age of AIDS in the form of two intersecting couples, a fallen angel . . . and an antichrist.  Did you know? An off-Broadway revival is set for October.  Quote: "Greetings, Prophet! The great work begins!!"  Next: Vintage Theatre, Oct. 1- Nov. 7
  7. 7. 3. “A Streetcar Named Desire” "A Streetcar Named Desire"  By: Tennessee Williams  Year: 1947  Survey points: 774  The story: An exiled neurotic is on a desperate prowl for someplace to call her own.  Did you know? The American Film Institute ranks "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers" as the 75th best line in film history.  Most recently: Vintage Theatre, 2008
  8. 8. 4. “Long Day’s Journey into Night” "Long Day's Journey Into Night"  By: Eugene O'Neill  Year: 1956  Survey points: 650  The story: An autobiographical account of the author's sickly youth with a drug-addicted mother, a boozy ex-actor for a father an emotionally unstable, jealous brother. The American family at its worst.  Quote: "We are such things as rubbish is made of, so let's drink up and forget it."  Did you know? O'Neill dedicated the play to his wife on their 12th wedding anniversary.  Next: It's now playing through March 13 at Paragon Theatre
  9. 9. 5. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"  By: Edward Albee  Year: 1962  Survey points: 608  The story: Professional drunks George and Martha savagely toy with each other and a visiting young couple, as if just another Saturday night drinking game.  Did you know? Its 1963 Pulitzer Prize was yanked by Columbia University because of its profane elements.  Quote: "Dashed hopes, and good intentions. Good, better, best, bested. How do you like that for a declension, young man?"  Next: April 29-May 16 by Star Bar Players, Colorado Springs
  10. 10. 6. “Our Town” "Our Town"  By: Thornton Wilder  Year: 1938  Survey points: 591  The story: A 1930s stage manager narrates the tale of an average town in the early days of the 20th century.  Did you know? Wilder dedicated the play to Alexander Woollcott, the critic and inspiration for Sheridan Whiteside, the main character in "The Man Who Came to Dinner."  Quote: "Does anyone ever realize life while they live it . . . every, every minute?"  Next: Colorado Shakespeare Festival, summer 2010
  11. 11. 7. “The Glass Menagerie” "The Glass Menagerie"  By: Tennessee Williams  Year: 1944  Survey points: 336  The story: A family of displaced and self-absorbed misfits representing the Southern social order, collapses like so much glass in Depression-era St. Louis.  Did you know? Laura has long been assumed to be based on Williams' frail, mentally ill sister, Rose, but many scholars now believe he was writing about himself.  Quote: "How beautiful it is, and how easily it can be broken."  Next: Feb. 25-March 13 at Thunder River, Carbondale
  12. 12. 8. “A raisin in the Sun” "A Raisin in the Sun"  By: Lorraine Hansberry  Year: 1959  Survey points: 314  The story: A forthcoming insurance payment could mean financial salvation or personal ruin for a poor black family.  Did you know? In the play's initial review, The New York Times called it "A Negro 'Cherry Orchard.' "  Quote: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?"  Next: By Inspire Creative, at Parker Mainstreet Center on March 12-20, featuring Cris Davenport and Gwen Harris.
  13. 13. 9. “The Crucible” "The Crucible"  By: Arthur Miller  Year: 1953  Survey points: 300  The story: The Salem witch trials as an allegory for the McCarthy anti-communism blacklisting campaign.  Did you know? The real John Proctor was 60 at the time of his trial; his accuser, Abigail, just 11. But they never met before Proctor's hearing, the affair between them being Miller's invention.  Quote: "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!"  Most recently: Arvada Center, 2009
  14. 14. 10. “Fences” "Fences"  By: August Wilson  Year: 1983  Survey points: 230  The story: Set in 1957, a former Negro League baseball star has been reduced to a garbage man. As his world inevitably crumbles, his bitterness touches everyone he loves.  Did you know? James Earl Jones originated the stage role of Troy Maxson.  Quote: "Life don't owe you nothing. You owe it to yourself."  Most recently: Denver Center Theatre Company, 1990

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