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Notable Plays & Musicals
A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry
From Encyclopedia of African-American Literature
Opened on Broadway in 1959, and was an immediate critical and popular success. This was Lorraine Hansberry's first play to appear on the national stage. Hansberry examined the problems of racism in America through the African-American family and through history. A pioneering work that explored issues of race, class, and gender in the middle of the 20th century, literally decades before it became vogue to do so, A Raisin in the Sun is now a classic of American realistic drama. It continues to be one of America's most widely performed plays.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams: Topic
Drama by Tennessee Williams. Greedy members of a wealthy Mississippi Delta family gather at the mansion of the clan's patriarch, the irascible Big Daddy (Burl Ives), to celebrate his birthday and to make sure their interests are well represented.
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller: Topic
Play by Arthur Miller. Salesman Willy Loman has always believed that being aggressive yet well-liked brings success in America but at the age of sixty-three he is still struggling and, with his faithful, supportive wife Linda, can barely make ends meet.
Mourning Becomes Electra, by Eugene O'Neill
From Brewer's Curious Titles
A trilogy of plays (1931) by the US dramatist Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953) set in New England during the US Civil War. The three parts are entitled ‘ Homecoming’, ‘ The Hunted’ and ‘ The Haunted’.
Our Town, by Thornton Wilder
From The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Houghton Mifflin
A Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Thornton Wilder, dealing with everyday life in a small town in New England.
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
From Brewer's Curious Titles
A historical drama (1953) by the US playwright Arthur Miller (b. 1915) about the witchcraft hysteria that swept through Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692.
West Side Story: Topic
Following the development of opera, operetta, and the musical play (or musical, as we now know it), American composers such as Jerome Kern (1885-1945) and Oscar Hammerstein (1846-1919) became very popular.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
From Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable
A play (1962) by US playwright Edward Albee (b.1928) depicting the tense relationship between a sharp-tongued college professor and his embittered wife.
From The Columbia Encyclopedia
American playwright, one of the leading dramatists of his generation, b. Washington, D.C., as Edward Harvey. His most characteristic work constitutes an absurdist commentary on American life, often conveying psychologically probing observations concerning the American family.
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984): Topic
U.S. dramatist. Her works include the plays The Little Foxes (1939), The Searching Wind (1944), and the autobiographical Scoundrel Time (1976).
George Kaufman (1889-1961): Topic
American playwright noted for many collaborations, including Dinner at Eight (1932) with Edna Ferber and You Can't Take It with You (1936) with Moss Hart.
Tony Kushner (1956- ): Topic
American playwright who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Millennium Approaches (1992), the first part of his trilogy Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.
David Mamet (1947- ): Topic
U.S. dramatist and film director. His plays include Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974), American Buffalo (1976), Glengarry Glen Ross (1983), and The Spanish Prisoner (1998).
Arthur Miller (1915-2005): Topic
American playwright whose works include Death of a Salesman (1949), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, and The Crucible (1953).
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953): Topic
U.S. dramatist. His works, which are notable for their emotional power and psychological analysis, include Desire under the Elms (1924), Strange Interlude (1928), Mourning becomes Elektra (1931), Long Day's Journey into Night (1941), and The Iceman Cometh (1946): Nobel prize for literature 1936.
Neil Simon (1927-2018): Topic
American playwright whose lighthearted comedies of middle-class life include The Odd Couple (1965) and Lost in Yonkers (1991), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975): Topic
American playwright and novelist, b. Madison, Wis., grad. Yale (B.A., 1920) and Princeton (M.A., 1925). He received most of his early education in China, where his father was in the U.S. consular service.
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983): Topic
Playwright, born in Columbus, Mississippi, USA. From an old Tennessee family (he adopted his first name by 1939 while in New Orleans), he was raised under the influence of his clergyman-grandfather.