"Theatre has the power to move, inspire, transform and educate in ways that no other art form can."
—Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO
Happy World Theatre Day! Founded more than fifty years ago by the International Theatre Institute, this day presents an opportunity for reflection on the international significance of theatre in culture. This year, playwright, author, and Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo composed the message for the day, which you can read here. Want to read more? In celebration, check out these four plays, now available for your ereader:
Doctors of Philosophy: A Play by Muriel Spark
The only play by famed Scottish author Muriel Spark takes on the dilemmas of two intellectually ambitious women in 1960s England
In a home overlooking London’s Regent’s Canal in the 1960s, two scholars debate the choices they have made with their lives. Catherine Delfont was one of the most promising minds of her generation, but after earning her PhD she gave up her research to marry a well-regarded economist and raise a family. Her cousin Leonora stayed in academia and became a successful classicist, able to observe both the breadth of history and the lives of others with brilliant, cool detachment. Together, they face the sacrifices they have made as women and intellectuals.
First performed in London in 1962 and later in Scandinavia, where it was produced by Ingmar Bergman, Doctors of Philosophy is a fascinating artifact of early second-wave feminism.
On the Waterfront: The Play by Budd Schulberg
Budd Schulberg’s Academy Award–winning screenplay, updated as a stage drama for modern audiences
First performed in 1988 and again on Broadway in 1995, Budd Schulberg and Stan Silverman’s stage version of On the Waterfront may represent the purest incarnation of his classic story. Produced forty years after the movie swept the Academy Awards, the subtly modernized stage play was a call to arms for a new generation. With this rendition, Schulberg and Silverman hoped to reach young people who seemed detached from the dehumanizing effects of poverty and the exploitation of society’s most vulnerable. Set in the 1950s and featuring original protagonists Terry Malloy and Father Pete Barry, On the Waterfront continues to stand as a masterful and uniquely American tragedy.
In the Clap Shack by William Styron
William Styron’s riveting play about a group of Marines who stand up to the military machine
In the summer of 1943, a young Marine named Wally Magruder arrives at a Navy hospital in the American South, stricken with what doctors diagnose as a severe case of syphilis. Trapped in the stifling confines of the urology ward, Magruder and his fellow patients rebel against the authoritarian Dr. Glanz, a physician who delights in the power that sickness gives him. But as they seek to reclaim their identities against dehumanization, the ward becomes a hell more real than any of them could have imagined.
Thirty Pieces of Silver: A Play in Three Acts by Howard Fast
A couple in Washington, DC, is torn apart when a friend is accused of treason
Jane and David Graham live upper-middle-class lives in mid-century Washington, DC. Jane minds the home with the help of a fulltime maid, and David works at the Treasury Department. But when the FBI visits their house one evening to ask questions about a friend’s political beliefs, the answers the two give separately cause them both to wonder whether they truly know each other. Soon nothing is certain as the ideological fears plaguing the nation threaten to destroy Jane and David’s family.
Howard Fast’s first play, Thirty Pieces of Silver was performed in several countries, from Australia to Europe, and offers an insightful look at the destructive power of reactionary politics in America.