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Doug of Gossemer Tapestry once did a list about plays meaningful for him. I thought I would try it as well. I have seen countless plays, mostly via The Stratford and Shaw Festivals in Canada. I have seen many plays in community theaters back in Michigan. Some plays were forgettable, but most were moving. Jung wrote we go to the theater to share our collective dreams.
While I could list dozens of play I enjoy and would see over and over, I thought I would stick to my 10 favorites (in approximate order of composition).
1) The Bacchae – Euripides This Greek classic reminds us what happens when we try to suppress the Dionysus part of the individual or society.
2) A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare I suppose I could have picked several from his works, but this one stands out. It gets played to death but when it is done well it remains funny, dreamy and a good time. The poetry alone is worth the price of admission. I never tire of it.
3) Ghosts – Henrik Ibsen I am becoming an Ibsen fan. This dark play is about how dead people and outdated society norms still haunt and plague the living.
4) St. Joan – George B. Shaw Something about this play grabs me; I suppose it is the paradox of a woman acting like an early Protestant. She is burned for such and then later canonized as a Catholic Saint. I get to see St. Joan this summer at the Shaw Festival and I am very excited to do so.
5) An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde“All I do know is that life cannot be understood without much charity, cannot be lived without much charity”. It is a masterpiece that conveys tolerance while being comic and witty.
6) Miss Julie – Strindberg Today’s audiences probably don’t appreciate how shocking this play is given the contents of an upper class lady who runs off with her servant. It was ugly disturbing stuff for the day.
7) Orpheus Descending –Tennessee Williams One of his less known plays but it packs a punch. What do we do with the misfits?
8) Entertaining Mr. Sloan – Orton I’ve seen it only once but I walked out of the theatre with a “WOW!” reaction. How many plays did that to you? I want to see it again to see if the ‘wow’ repeats
9) Night, Mother – Marsha Norman Haunting, disturbing play about suicide. Is it ever reasonable to kill yourself?
10) Angels in America – Tony Kushner I sometimes put on the HBO version when I feel a need for hope.