Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff discover the perils of love, assumed identities, and telling the truth in Oscar Wilde's classic play.
Hamlet is commonly regarded as one of the greatest plays ever written. Drawing on Danish chronicles and the Elizabethan vogue for revenge tragedy, Shakespeare created a play that is at once a philosophic treatise, a family drama, and a supernatural thriller. In the wake of his father's death, Prince Hamlet finds that his Uncle Claudius has swiftly taken the throne and married his mother, Queen Gertrude. The ghost of the dead king then appears and charges Claudius with 'murder most foul.' Hamlet is called to revenge his father's death: but will he be able to act before it is too late?
The Seagull is the first of what are generally considered to be the four major plays by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov. The play was written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. It dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the ingenue Nina, the fading leading lady Irina Arkadina, her son the experimental playwright Konstantin Treplyov, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin. (Wikipedia)
An old theatre under new management; a diva who thinks she can sing; a young ingenue who really can; a masked man who wreaks havoc if he doesn't get his own way. Secrets, intrigues, falling chandeliers! The Phantom of the Opera is here!
Inheritors, (1921) by American dramatist Susan Glaspell concerns the legacy of an idealistic farmer who wills his highly coveted midwest farmland to the establishment of a college (Act I.) Forty years later, when his granddaughter stands up for the rights of Hindu nationals to protest at the college her grandfather founded, she jeopardizes funding for the college itself and sets herself against her own uncle, president of the institution's trustees (Acts II and III.) Ultimately, she defies her family's wishes, and as a consequence is bound for prison herself (Act IV.) The play was a stirring defense of free speech and an individual's ability to stand for his or her own ideal during a time of aggressive anti-Communist politics in the US. Inheritors was first performed at Provincetown Playhouse in 1922, the last of Glaspell's plays presented there. It has been revived in New York City by Mirror Repertory in 1983 and Metropolitan Playhouse in 2005.
A Family-drama in three acts. Like many of Ibsen's better-known plays, Ghosts is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality.
Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts was first published in 1881 and staged in 1882, and like his earlier play A Doll's House, profoundly shocked his contemporaries. Dubbed "a dirty deed done in public" by one of its critics, the play focuses on (among other things) venereal disease, euthanasia, and incest. The original title literally means "the ones who return," and the play is about how we can deal with the awful legacy of the past.
This is the second installment in Sophocles's Theban Plays that chronicles the tragic fates of Oedipus and his family. After fulfilling the prophecy that predicted he would kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus blinds himself and leaves Thebes, to wander in the wilderness accompanied by his daughters Antigone and Ismene.
The play begins years after Oedipus has taken the throne of Thebes. The Theban chorus cries out to him for salvation from the plague sent by the gods in response to Laius's murder. Oedipus searches for the murderer, unaware that he himself is guilty of that crime.
The blind prophet Teiresias is called upon to aid the search, but, after his warning against following through with it, Oedipus oppugns him as the murderer, even though he is blind and aged. In response, an angry Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is looking for himself, causing the king to become enraged in incredulity. He then accuses the prophet of conspiring with Creon, Jocasta's brother, to overthrow him.
Oedipus calls for one of Laius's former servants, the only surviving witness of the murder, who fled the city when Oedipus became king in order to avoid being the one to reveal the truth. Soon a messenger from Corinth arrives to inform the king of the death of Polybus, whom Oedipus still believes to be his real father. At this point, the messenger informs him that he was in fact adopted and that his true parentage is unknown. In the subsequent discussions between Oedipus, Jocasta, the servant and the messenger, the second-mentioned surmises the truth and runs away in shame.
Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In it, Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic General, has just returned from her honeymoon with George Tesman, an aspiring young academic, reliable but not brilliant, who has combined research with their honeymoon. The reappearance of Tesman's academic rival, Eilert Lovborg, throws their lives into disarray.
Three Sisters is a naturalistic play about the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world. It describes the lives and aspirations of the Prozorov family, the three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and their brother Andrei. They are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence. The sisters are refined and cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow; however for the past eleven years they have been living in a small provincial town. Moscow is a major symbolic element: the sisters are always dreaming of it and constantly express their desire to return. They identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. However as the play develops Moscow never materializes and they all see their dreams recede further and further. Meaning never presents itself and they are forced to seek it out for themselves.
Shaw, George Bernard
Don Juan in Hell is an excerpt (Act 3, Scene 2) from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. It is often performed as a stand-alone play. In it, three characters from Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Don Juan, Dona Ana, and the statue of the Commendatore, Dona Ana’s father) meet in Hell and, joined by the Devil, have a philosophical debate on a variety of subjects, including Heaven and Hell, men, women and marriage. In the end, they all decide where they will spend eternity.
Othello is the story of a cross-cultural romance between the title character, a noble moor who is a general in the Venetian army, and Desdemona, a beautiful and virtuous Venetian lady. The newly-married couple fall prey to the machinations of Iago, Othello's jealous ensign, who plots to destroy their union.
Shaw, George Bernard
The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Kitty Warren, a rich woman, described by the author as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman" and her daughter, Vivie. Mrs Warren is a middle-aged woman whose Cambridge-educated daughter, Vivie, is horrified to discover the sinister way her mother acquired her fortune.
Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays and is thought to be the most famous love story in Western history. It concerns the fate of two very young lovers who would do anything to be together
The Montagues and the Capulets of Verona, Italy, are in the midst of a long-standing feud when Romeo Montague drops in on a masquerade party at the Capulets’. While there he meets and woos the daughter of the house, Juliet. She likewise returns his passion, and their secret meeting later that night on her bedroom balcony begins a series of tragic events that no one could have foretold.
Schiller's tragedy depicts the final days of Mary, Queen of Scots, who has been imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, because of her potential claim on the English throne. The action of the play revolves around an attempt to rescue Mary from prison and Elizabeth's indecision over whether or not to have her executed. The 1801 translation is by Joseph Mellish, a friend of Schiller's.
Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, first published in 1892, is about architect Halvard Solness, who despite personal tragedy (including the death of his two sons) has risen to the top of his profession. He has succeeded partly through ruthless competition and exploitation and partly through a seeming ability to force his will on others. His unhappy wife Aline mourns for their lost life, and resents his interest in various young women, including his bookkeeper Kaia Fosli. Solness disregards the ambitions of other architects, including Knut Brovik and his son Ragnar, and seeks solace in the advice of family physician and friend Dr. Herdal. With the entrance of Hilda Wangel, a young woman whom he met as a child ten years ago, his life acquires a new focal point, one that will mean the end of him.
In 'The Swan Song' an aging actor reminisces about his life and the parts he's played. The piece takes a tragic look at ambition and the sacrifices that must be made in order to succeed. Chekhov’s ability to capture and explore human nature and experience is showcased here.
This is a lovely comedy about the theft of a prostitute's purse by a rich 'young man of good family. It is placed beside the theft of a silver cigarette case from the rich man's father's house by 'a poor devil', with very different repercussions.
Barrie, J. M.
From the author of Peter Pan:
Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.
Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor. (Intro from Wikipedia and TriciaG)
August Strindberg's naturalistic one-act drama has only three characters: Julie, a passionate young noblewoman; Jean, her father's ambitious valet; and Kristin, the cook, who is also Jean's fiancee. The play is set on Midsummer Eve, when everyone is reveling, and Julie and Jean get a bit too intimate - with tragic results.
Scapin is a liar, a schemer, an arrogant meddler who thinks he can make people do anything. And yet sometimes he acts in the cause of good. Here he attempts to help out some secret lovers whose parents would prefer they don't marry.
G. K. Chesterton
George Bernard Shaw goaded the already successful essayist and novelist Chesterton into trying his hand at a play, with this 1913 result. The play examines the powers and mysteries of faith, belief, religion, and of course, magic - a mixture that should be familiar from many of his Father Brown stories. The play's success convinced him to write a couple of other later plays.
This is a collection of short stories by the Brothers Grimm, Aesop, Anderson, and more authors, turned into short children's plays by Augusta Stevenson. This collection has seventeen plays in which characters come together and form a classic children's story.
Nicolai (anglicised Nicholas in this translation) Ivanov, a middle-aged public servant, is unhappy. His wife Anna, disinherited by her family after converting from Judaism, is dying of tuberculosis. He is deeply in debt. And his best friend’s daughter is infatuated with him. Comedy and tragedy ensue in truly Chekhovian fashion. An example of the young Chekhov’s maturing style, Ivanov is an early harbinger of themes that would recur throughout his work.
John Builder is a solid, middle-class Englishman. He is very domineering but finds that the women around him are insistent on living their own lives. They will not let him take control. His world begins to fall apart around him
Davis, Richard Harding
Miss Civilization, a one act comedy, tells the story of a young woman who matches wits with three burglars attempting to rob her house. This recording was made in Chicago at the LibriVox World Gathering in May 2007.
Arthur Wing Pinero
Aubrey Tanqueray marries a woman with a past which he believes will not matter in society. "I know you think me a fool, Cayley—you needn't infer that I'm a coward into the bargain. No! I know what I'm doing, and I do it deliberately, defiantly. I'm alone; I injure no living soul by the step I'm going to take; and so you can't urge the one argument which might restrain me. Of course, I don't expect you to think compassionately, fairly even, of the woman whom I—whom I am drawn to—  Thanks. I've heard you say that from forty till fifty a man is at heart either a stoic or a satyr.  I am neither. I have a temperate, honourable affection for Mrs. Jarman. She has never met a man who has treated her well—I intend to treat her well. That's all. And in a few years, Cayley, if you've not quite forsaken me, I'll prove to you that it's possible to rear a life of happiness, of good repute, on a—miserable foundation."
Alcott, Louisa May
Fans of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women will remember the elaborate plays which the March sisters loved to perform. This volume, published after Alcott's death, is a compilation of the real plays written by her and her sisters, which were fictionalized in Little Women.
For the time of his story Mr. Parker has chosen the most absorbing period of the romantic eighteenth-century history of Quebec. The curtain rises soon after General Braddock's defeat in Virginia, and the hero, a prisoner in Quebec, curiously entangled in the intrigues of La Pompadour, becomes a part of a strange history, full of adventure and the stress of peril, which culminates only after Wolfe's victory over Montcalm. The material offered by the life and history of old Quebec has never been utilized for the purposes of fiction with the command of plot and incident, the mastery of local color, and the splendid realization of dramatic situations shown in this distinguished and moving romance. The illustrations preserve the atmosphere of the text, for they present the famous buildings, gates, and battle grounds as they appeared at the time of the hero's imprisonment in Quebec.
Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke's court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke's mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father's plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him.
A. A. Milne
Come, join us on a lovely April afternoon in Devonshire for a breezy frolic in comedy. Milne's light-hearted romance is sure to make you chuckle.
W. Somerset Maugham
Lady Frederick is a comedy by the British writer W. Somerset Maugham, written early in his career. The play was first seen in London in 1907, and was very successful, running for 422 performances. The title role was played by Ethel Irving. In New York it was first performed in 1908, with Lady Frederick played by Ethel Barrymore, who reprised her role in the play's film adaptation, The Divorcee.In the play, Lady Frederick is an Irish widow, seriously in debt; she must deal with suitors who have various motives for proposing marriage, and with the man with whom she once had an affair.
Pedro Calderón de la Barca
"The Wonderful Magician" is perhaps better known to poetical students in England from the spirited fragment Shelley has left us in his "Scenes from Calderon." The preoccupation of a subject by a great master throws immense difficulties in the way of any one who ventures to follow in the same path: but as Shelley allowed himself great licence in his versification, and either from carelessness or an imperfect knowledge of Spanish is occasionally unfaithful to the meaning of his author, it may be hoped in my own version that strict fidelity both as to the form as well as substance of the original may be some compensation for the absence of those higher poetical harmonies to which many of my readers will have been accustomed.
'Monsieur de Pourceaugnac', acted on October 6, 1669, is nothing but a farce. But Molière excels in farce as well as in higher comedy, and 'Monsieur de Pourceaugnac' is one of the best of its kind. The attacks upon the doctors of the time are not exaggerated. Molière acted the part of Mr. de Pourceaugnac.
Upton Sinclair is best known for his novel The Jungle, an expose of the meatpacking industry. He was also a playwright whose works for the stage reflected the same progressive viewpoints found in his other writing. In The Machine, published as part of Sinclair's 1912 collection Plays of Protest, Socialist activists show a rich man's daughter the truth about the society in which she has been raised.
Alexandre Dumas, fils
Is it really a woman of your superiority who speaks of the proprieties of society? Are not women like you above all that? Was I to come delicately and hypocritically to offer your husband the sum he stood in need of? That is a course that would have been unworthy of him, of me, and of you. No, you know it well, the proprieties and dignity are nothing any longer, when passion or necessity predominates. Did your grandmother respect the dignity of her daughter when she gave her up to a prince?
A small coastal town in Norway is experiencing an economic boom from its newly found hot springs. When Dr. Thomas Stockmann finds that the waters are contaminated and dangerous, the people refuse to accept his statement, and Dr. Stockmann's friends turn against him.
The Bourgeois Gentleman of the title is a middle-class social climber, assured that by learning all the arts of a true and noble gentleman, he shall truly become one. This enables Moliere to satire both the pretentious middle class and the snobbish aristocracy all at one time. Originally presented in 1670 before the court of Louis the 14th with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully, it was more recently re-choreographed by George Balanchine to music by Strauss. This will be a purely spoken version of the original.
A cheque has been issued for nine pounds but someone has changed it to ninety in the hopes of claiming the money. But who is responsible? Will one man's confession bring us to the truth, or is he covering for someone else?
George Bernard Shaw
Set during the American Revolution. Richard Dudgeon, put off by the dour religious ferocity of his mother and many of his neighbors, declares himself to be the devil's disciple, befriends the town's disreputable characters, repulses minister Anthony Anderson's dutiful attempts to save his soul, and takes a certain grim satisfaction in the shocked disapproval of his neighbors, including Anderson's young wife Judith. But when the British Army under General Burgoyne approaches, seeking prominent rebels, of whom to make examples, Richard, Anthony, and Judith are faced with a crisis that knocks them all loose from their comfortable roles. Rudeness, repartee, role reversal, irony, heroics, and excessive authorial commentary abound.
J. M. Barrie
Two sisters living on Quality Street set up and run a school for children after the local doctor heads off to fight Napoleon. Ten years later he returns, thinking that all the adventures have been his, and that the old life in Quality Street has waited, as in a sleep, to be resumed on the day of his return. Katharine Hepburn starred in a movie version made in 1937. The Quality Street chocolates were named after the play.
British dramatist Alfred Sutro's collection contains five one act plays: "The Man in the Stalls," "A Marriage Has Been Arranged…", "The Man on the Kerb," "The Open Door," and "The Bracelet." The plays are performed by Amanda Friday, Libby Gohn, Elizabeth Klett, mb, Bob Neufeld, Caprisha Page, Bruce Pirie, and Algy Pug.
In She Stoops to Conquer, or The Mistakes of a Night, a young lady pretends to be a servant in order to win the notice of a young man who is painfully shy around women of his own class. Hilarious misadventures and mayhem ensue before matters are neatly wrapped up at the end. This play, one of the great English comedies, was first performed in 1773 and continues to be very popular with audiences today.
The Way of the World is a play written by British playwright William Congreve. It premiered in 1700 in the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. It is widely regarded as being one of the best Restoration comedies written and is still performed sporadically to this day.
The play is based around the two lovers Mirabell and Millamant (originally famously played by John Verbruggen and Anne Bracegirdle). In order for the two to get married and receive Millamant's full dowry, Mirabell must receive the blessing of Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort. Unfortunately, she is a very bitter lady, who despises Mirabell and wants her own nephew, Sir Wilful, to wed Millamant.
Other characters include Fainall who is having a secret affair with Mrs. Marwood, a friend of Mrs. Fainall's, who in turn once had an affair with Mirabell.
Waitwell is Mirabell's servant and is married to Foible, Lady Wishfort's servant. Waitwell pretends to be Sir Rowland and, on Mirabell's command, tries to trick Lady Wishfort into a false engagement.
John Webster's bloody Jacobean tragedy exposes the decadence of the Italian court. The virtuous Duchess of Malfi, a young widow, secretly marries her steward Antonio, and is subsequently persecuted by her brothers: the sexually obsessed and eventually mad Ferdinand, and the corrupt Cardinal.
Even people who claim to hate Shakespearean comedy have to admit that they love A Midsummer Night’s Dream.The original play is already naturally divided into three realms: the mortal world, the faerie realm and the play within the play, thus it presents the perfect opportunity to double and triple cast the same actors. So it was really only a matter of time till somebody came up with the crazy idea to stage the whole thing with only three people. Those crazy people are Tony Addison, John Burlinson and Sonia. The outcome of their collaboration is a 3 hour tour-de-force full of surprises: special effects, music, songs. True to the Shakespearean spirit, cross-gender casting was a must, so don't be alarmed when Titania (who will shatter all your preconceptions of the term "fairy queen" forever) enters the stage.Now you're forewarned, and if you still think you're ready, settle back in your armchair and let a bit of faerie into your world. We hope you enjoy the ride.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy was first performed in 1777 and focuses on the intrigues and scandals of the British upper classes. Lady Sneerwell wants to marry Charles Surface, while Joseph Surface wants to marry Maria, an heiress and ward of Sir Peter Teazle. Maria, however, prefers Charles over Joseph. In order to detach her from Charles, Lady Sneerwell and Joseph spread rumors about an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle, Sir Peter's new young wife. Meanwhile, Sir Oliver Surface, newly returned from the East Indies, assumes various disguises to test his nephews' characters. Misunderstandings, mistaken identities, gossip, and bad behavior abound in this uproarious comedy.
Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first produced 22 February 1892 at the St James's Theatre in London. The play was first published in 1893. Like many of Wilde's comedies, it bitingly satirizes the morals of Victorian society, particularly marriage.
The story concerns Lady Windermere, who discovers that her husband may be having an affair with another woman. She confronts her husband but he instead invites the other woman, Mrs Erlynne, to his wife's birthday ball. Angered by her husband's unfaithfulness, Lady Windermere leaves her husband for another lover. Or does she? Is it really possible to trust delicious gossip? Are all men really bad? These and many other questions are raised and if not answered, then held up for public scrutiny in this biting satire of morals and proper behavior. The best known line of the play sums up the central theme:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
—Lord Darlington (from Wikipedia and the reader)