Check out these 10 plays taken from a longer suggested reading list by Erin La Rosa in BuzzFeed:
- The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh
Do you like dark comedies? Think about the darkest comedy you know, and then multiply it by roughly a zillion and you get The Pillowman. (this is the guy who wrote and directed the movie “seven psychopaths”). The play is about a short story writer who’s being interrogated by two policemen about the short stories he’s written, all of which involve gruesome acts and children. What it’s really about, though, is storytelling, and every character in the play is a storyteller of some kind.
How it will change you: This play will give you a deeper understanding of how storytelling is powerful and part of everyone’s lives.
- BFE by Julia Cho
Fourteen-year-old Panny is stuck in suburbia with an agoraphobic mother addicted to plastic surgery, and an uncle who feels a stake in helping raise Panny. The play takes a lot of dark twists and turns but is ultimately about standards of beauty, self-hate, and acceptance.
How it will change you: While the plot itself is unusual, the themes are extremely relatable and will remind you that words and images have power.
- Red by John Logan
Set in the 1950s, this play about artist Mark Rothko and his relationship with his protégé paints (see what I did there?) a portrait of what it means to create art, and how an artist sees their work. The dialogue is intense and often eye-opening about the creative process.
How it will change you: This play is like stepping into the mind of a truly creative person, and seeing how different their POV is.
- Angels in America by Tony Kushner
You may have seen the HBO adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, which is a full seven hours (!!!) when performed live. But if you haven’t, Angels in America takes place in the ’80s during the first outbreak of the AIDS epidemic.
How it will change you: Through the story of a straight married couple and a gay couple, you learn about the bonds of community, religion, and sexuality. It’s powerful and gut-wrenching, to say the least.
- God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
In 2009, God of Carnage won the Tony Award for Best Play and it isn’t hard to understand why once you read this story about two couples meeting to rationally discuss a fight their young sons got into. But no one can discuss anything rationally, because fighting doesn’t end at childhood, as seen in this play.
How it will change you: This play is explosive, and shows through action and dialogue that we’re really all just animals in the end.
- No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre’s existentialist play follows three deceased people who are spending the rest of their afterlife days locked in a room together. They couldn’t be more poorly matched, personality-wise, which leads to a lot of bickering and the conclusion that they’re likely in hell.
How it will change you: Because Sartre was a philosopher and existentialist, much of No Exit deals with themes of freedom and choice. It’s simply a powerful play.
- Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
This play won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984, and it’s all about a real estate agent named Shelly Levane who decides to sell a lot in Florida to a couple with suspicious credit. As you can imagine, things don’t end so well…
How it will change you: The message of how much you’re willing to do for the price of success is not lost here.
- Noises Off by Michael (Frane) Frayn
If you’re looking to read an absolutely masterful farce, then Noises Off has got you covered. This play about a group of actors putting on a play has dizzying stage directions and timing that manages to read as hilarious without even needing to see it. (Though you absolutely should see it after you read it.)
How it will change you: You’ll laugh uncontrollably, then be in awe of the amount of coordination involved in a piece this staggeringly airtight.
- Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
When a lead’s name is “Rooster,” you know you’re in for a good time. Our lead, a former daredevil motorcyclist named Johnny “Rooster” Byron, makes a final last stand against suburban development when he discovers that he’s about to be evicted from his mobile home. But what he’s also taking a stand for is people who simply LOVE life and live it to the absolute extreme.
How it will change you: This play is wild, exhilarating, and channels a very rare type of person who may not seem endearing at first, but absolutely is so.
- Miss Evers’ Boys by David Feldshuh
This play is shocking in that it’s based on an actual 40-year study of syphilis that began in 1932, where black sharecroppers were denied treatment for the disease (but believed they were being treated). Miss Evers, our lead, is a black nurse who recruits men for the study, and is based on a real-life nurse whose job was to do just that.
How it will change you: It’s a look into what it meant to be black in America during an incredibly dark time, and is much more layered than you’d ever imagine.