Who Are Some of Your Favorite Playwrights?

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It is time to continue this series about favorite writers, and I do not think I am close to finishing it! I have many ideas in mind about writers and questions about which ones you like.

For this post, I am wondering about playwrights. I have been involved with theater and drama since I was very young. I have been an actor, a director, an acting coach, and I teach drama at college, mainly at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

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The first of my favorite playwrights begins with the one who is the center of literature, William Shakespeare. I have also been involved with Shakespeare most of my life. I have read his plays many times, and it is difficult to choose the ones I think most important, but I will try. My favorite Shakespeare plays are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, and Hamlet.

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Arthur Miller, a modernist American playwright, worked in the 20th Century. Among his best plays are Death Of A Salesman, All My Sons, and The Crucible. His work is powerful, and he explores major themes of America and the world.

Brian_Friel

(By Thebogsideartists – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43934304)

My third choice is Brian Friel, a playwright who lived from 1929-2015. He emerged as an Irish playwright and became one of the most well known and important writers in the world. Among his plays are Translations, Dancing At Lughnasa, and Philadelphia, Here I Come!

My question to all of you then is — who are some of your favorite playwrights?

Quotations From Shakespeare: Hamlet

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On life and death:

“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now; yet it will come. The readiness is all.” (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 217-220)

 

On Acting:

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep  not the modesty of nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold as’t were the mirror up to nature.” (Act 3. Scene 2. Lines 17-22)

 

On Fate:

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will–” (Act 5. Scene 2. Lines 10-11)

 

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Collect Works of Shakespeare 4th Edition. David

Bevington, Ed. Longman. New York. 1997.

 

 

Dining With Authors: Part Two

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Renaissance_theatre

The drawing of the Swan Theatre (1596)

Hamlet, Doctor Faustus, The Tempest, and Edward the Second are just a few of the plays produced by the two greatest playwrights of the Renaissance: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Born in the same year–1564, they were the two premier writers of their age and arguably among the  most important of any era. These are writers who have informed both my studies and entranced my imagination.  At Muhlenberg College, I teach Renaissance drama courses and Shakespeare .

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Christopher Marlowe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Marlowe

I would love to have the opportunity through a magic time machine to sit down and have a conversation with these two giants of the theater. I would invite both writers to spend an afternoon or evening at a pub–English of course–and over beer and food discuss many topics with them. I am sure that sometimes I would simply listen to them.

I would love to hear what they said about their work and how they felt about each other. I would love to learn from them the specifics of the way their plays were staged. I would ask Marlowe about his mysterious work for the Queen of England.  Was he a spy?  I do not know if he would answer, but I would still have to ask.

I would ask Shakespeare about the canon of his plays.  Were there plays he wrote that are currently lost?  If so, what are they? And I have often wondered if he ever considered writing a tragedy about King Arthur.

I also wonder how the two great writers would behave together. Would this be a polite conversation, a deep discussion of theatrical issues, or a wild and fiery debate or argument among bitter rivals?

I wish I could speak with them.

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Searching for Innocent Bystander

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I need help with a project I am currently working on.  In May 2014 I completed my dissertation From the Political to the Personal: Interrogation, Imprisonment, and Sanction In the Prison Drama of Seamus Byrne and Brendan Behan. I found this work to be extremely interesting and satisfying especially because the study of Irish Theatre in the 20th Century has been central to my academic work. One of my immediate discoveries was while an abundance of research has been done on Brendan Behan, very little has been written on Seamus Byrne.

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I am currently working on a book focused on Seamus Byrne. In it, I will examine his life and his three plays that were produced. His last play, Innocent Bystander, is presenting itself as the most mysterious. According to the site, PlayographyIreland, it was produced at the Abbey Theatre in November of 1951. Other than some small pieces of information, I have found neither a copy of the play itself nor more specific and detailed accounting of the production.

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I was wondering if any of you have any suggestions about places to hunt for this play in Ireland. I have contacted the Irish National Library, which has a manuscript copy, but the fee for them doing the copying is extremely high.

Thank you in advance for any help or suggestions you might have!

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