I’ve recently decided to read more plays for pleasure reading. And why not? After the successful adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and the recent performance of the Hamilton musical number at the Grammys, it seems plays (and musicals) may be back en vogue. The benefits of reading plays in my downtime are plentiful.
I can read most plays in one short sitting, usually an hour or less. It feels like a more intense, more raw experience. Driven by dialogue, plays contain characters who must define themselves with what they say (or don’t say). There can be no reliance on long narrative explanations––they must speak for themselves. I am increasingly awestruck at playwrights who can create depth of character in such short space.
Plays, like novels, capture the zeitgeist of a time, but the method of doing so illuminates the mannerisms of the people portrayed in quick brushstrokes. Annie Baker’s The Flick, a 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning play started me off on this kick (thanks to my department head for the copy of the play). Recently I’ve devoured Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets, 2003 Pulitzer winner Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics, and Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, Wit.
If you’re looking to challenge your reading and expose yourself to a quick, satisfying story, consider reading modern plays. So step aside from the Shakespeare for a while, and read the bards of our time.
Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA