Suggested Readings for Students of Modern Drama

I compiled this list in response to requests from my students in Theatre History III. It does not pretend to be exhaustive but it outlines a guide for any student who wants to be literate in "Modern Drama." I have listed one play for each playwright. I mean this as a suggested starting point, not as a judgement about which of each playwright's works is "the best." "African American" playwrights have their own section because we studied American Black Theatre as a separate unit in class, not because I believe in cultural apartheid. Where a particular nation, region, or ethnic group is under-represented it does not mean that it lacks a rich and interesting dramatic literature that deserves to be explored. It means I don't know as much about it as I should. I intend to continue my studies and urge all of you to do the same.


Bentley, Eric, ed., From the Modern Repertoire, 3 Volumes
Bentley, Eric, ed., The Modern Theatre, 6 Volumes
Bentley, Eric, ed., The Great Playwrights, Volume II
Corrigan, Robert W., ed., The Modern Theatre
Worthen, W. B., ed., Modern Drama: Plays/Criticism/Theory

Playwrights and Suggested Plays

American (US and Canadian):

Albee, Edward, The American Dream
Barry, Philip, Philadelphia Story
Breuer, Lee, B-Beaver Animation
Davies, Robertson, At My Heart's Core
Foote, Horton, The Widow Claire
Fornés, Maria Irene, Fefu and her Friends
Glaspel, Susan, Trifles
Hellman, Lillian, The Little Foxes
Highway, Tomson, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing
Howard, Sidney, The Silver Chord
Hwang, David Henry, The Dance and the Railroad
Kushner, Tony, Angels in America
Mamet, David, American Buffalo
Miller, Arthur, The Crucible
O'Neill, Eugene, The Hairy Ape
Odetts, Clifford, Awake and Sing
Overmyer, Eric, On the Verge
Rice, Elmer, The Adding Machine
SF Mime Troupe, By Popular Demand (collection of scripts)
Shawn, Wallace, Aunt Dan and Lemon
Sheperd, Sam, Buried Child
Vogel, Paula, Baltimore Waltz
Wasserstein, Wendy, The Heidi Chronicles
Wilder, Thornton, Our Town
Williams, Tennessee, A Streetcar Named Desire
Wilson, Lanford, The Fifth of July


Baldwin, James, The Amen Corner
Baraka, Amiri, Dutchman
Ed Bullins, The Electronic Nigger
Elder, Lonne III, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men
Hansberry, Loraine, A Raisin in the Sun
Hughes, Langston, Mulatto
Kennedy, Adrienne, Funnyhouse of a Negro
Parks, Suzan-Lori, The American Play
Shange, Ntozake, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered
    Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuff
Smith, Anna Deavere, Fires in the Mirror
Wilson, August, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Wolfe, George, The Colored Museum
Wright, Richard, and Paul Green, Native Son


Arden, John, Sergeant Musgrave's Dance
Ayckbourn, Alan, The Norman Conquests
Barker, Howard, The Hang of the Gaol
Barnes, Peter, Noontime Demons
Barrie, James M., The Admirable Crichton
Bond, Edward, Saved
Brenton, Howard, Weapons of Happiness
Churchill, Caryl, Cloud Nine
Coward, Noel, Design for Living
Edgar, David, Mary Barnes
Griffiths, Trevor, The Party
Hare, David, Fanshen
Hastings, Michael, For the West (Uganda)
Humphreys, Barrie, Judgement
Johnson, Terry, Unsuitable for Adults
Keefe, Barrie, Gimme Shelter
Kelman, James, Hardie and Baird
Littlewood, Joan, et al, Oh, What a Lovely War!
McGrath, John, The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil
Mercer, David, A Suitable Case for Treatment
Nichols, Peter, The National Health
Orton, Joe, What the Butler Saw
Pinero, Arthur Wing, The Second Mrs. Tanqueray
Pinter, Harold, The Homecoming
Poliakoff, Stephen, Hitting Town
Ridley, Philip, Ghost from a Perfect Place
Shaw, George Bernard, Heartbreak House
Stoppard, Tom, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Wertenbaker, Timberlake, Our Country's Good
Wilde, Oscar, The Importance of Being Earnest
Williams, Heathcote, The Local Stigmatic
Wilson, Snoo, The Number of the Beast


Behan, Brendan, The Quare Fellow
Friel, Brian, Translations
Gregory, Lady Augusta, The Rising of the Moon
Heaney, Seamus, The Cure at Troy
Murphy, Tom, Famine
O'Casey, Sean, Juno and the Paycock
Synge, John Millington, Playboy of the Western World
Yeats, William Butler, Purgatory

German and Swiss:

Barlach, Ernst, Squire Blue Boll
Bauer, Wolfgang, Magic Afternoon
Brecht, Bertolt, Galileo
Dürrenmatt, Friedrich, The Visit
Frisch, Max, The Firebugs
Grass, Gunter, The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising
Handke, Peter, The Ride Across Lake Constance
Hochwülder, Fritz, The Strong Are Lonely
Hokuth, Rolf, The Deputy
Horváth, Ödön von, Tales from the Vienna Woods
Kaiser, Georg, Gas
Kroetz, Franz Xavier, Farmyard
Müller, Heiner, Hamletmachine
Sternheim, Carl, The Underpants
Toller, Ernst, Man and the Masses
Wedekind, Frank, Earth Spirit / Pandora's Box
Weiss, Peter, Marat/Sade

French and Belgian:

Adamov, Arthur, Ping-Pong
Anouilh, Jean, Thieves' Carnival
Artaud, Antonin, The Jet of Blood
Beckett, Samuel, Waiting for Godot
Brieux, Eugène, The Red Robe
Cocteau, Jean, Les Parents terribles, intimate relations
Crommelnyck, Fernand, The Magnanimous Cuckold
de Ghelerode, Michel, Escurial
Duras, Marguerite, La Musica
Genet, Jean, The Balcony
Giraudoux, Jean, The Madwoman of Chaillot
Ionesco, Eugene, Exit the King
Jarry, Alfred, Ubu Roi
Pinget, Robert, Architruc
Rostand, Edmond, Cyrano de Bergerac
Tzara, Tristan, The Gas Heart
Vitrac, Roger, Mysteries of Love


Arrabel, Fernando, The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria
Benevente, Jacinto, Bonds of Interest
Garcia Lorca, Federico, Yerma


de Filippo, Eduardo, Filumena
Fo, Dario, Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Pirandello, Luigi, Six Characters in Search of an Author


Andreyev, Leonid, He Who Gets Slapped
Bulgakov, Michael, The White Guard
Chekhov, Anton, The Three Sisters
Gorki, Maxim, The Lower Depths
Mayakovsky, Vladimir, Mystery-Bouffe
Olyesha, Yurii, The Conspiracy of Feelings
Turgenev, Ivan, A Month in the Country


Ibsen, Henrik, A Doll's House
Lagerkvist, Pär, The Philosopher's Stone
Strindberg, August, The Dream Play


Soyinka, Wole, Death and the King's Horseman
Césaire, Aimé, A Tempest
Fugard, Athol, The Road to Mecca


Matura, Mustapha, Independence
Wolcott, Derek, Dream on Monkey Mountain


Mishima, Yukio, The Lady Aoi

Eastern European:

Havel, Vaclav, Largo Desolato
Kahout, Pavel, Poor Murderer
Kundera, Milan, Jacques and His Master
Molnar, Ferenc, Liliom
Witkiewicz, S. I., The Mother
Wyspianski, Stanislaw, November Night

Latin American:

Rodrigues, Nelson, The Wedding Dress
Skármeta, Antonio, Burning Patience
Fuentes, Carlos, Orchids in the Moonlight


Appia, Adolf, Essays, Scenarios, and Designs
Artaud, Antonin, The Theatre and Its Double
Barrault, Jean-Louis, Memories for Tomorrow
Bartow, Arthur, ed, The Director's Voice: Twenty-one Interviews
Blau, Herbert, The Impossible Theatre: A Manifesto
Brecht, Bertolt, Brecht on Theatre, John Willet, ed.
Brook, Peter, The Empty Space
Clurman, Harold, On Directing
Copeau, Jacques, Texts on Theatre
Craig, Edward Gordon, On the Art of the Theatre
Fo, Dario, Tricks of the Trade
Foreman, Richard, Plays and Manifestos
Grotowski, Jerzy, Toward a Poor Theatre
Guthrie, Tyrone, In Various Directions
Hopkins, Arthur, How's Your Second Act?
Kirch and Chinoy, eds., Directing the Play
McGrath, John, A Good Night Out
Meyerhold, Vsevolod, Meyerhold on Theatre, Edward Braun, ed.
Piscator, Erwin, The Political Theatre
Saint-Denis, Michel, Theatre: The Rediscovery of Style
Stanislavsky, Konstantin, My Life in Art
Strehler, Giorgio, Per un teatro umano
Vaughan, Stuart, A Possible Theatre

Theory and Criticism

Archer, William, Play Making
Bentley, Eric, The Playwright as Thinker, etc.
Bentley, Eric, ed, The Theory of the Modern Stage
Brown, John Russell, Theatre Language
Corrigan, Robert W., ed., Theatre in the Twentieth Century
Drain, Richard, ed., Twentieth Century Theatre: A Sourcebook
Gilman, Richard, The Making of Modern Drama
Kirby, Michael, ed., The New Theatre: Performance Documentation
Lahr, John, Astonish Me
Quigley, Austin, The Modern Stage and Other Worlds
Rogoff, Gordon, The Theatre Is Not Safe
Williams, Raymond, Drama from Ibsen to Brecht


Aronson, Arnold, American Set Design
Aronson, Boris, The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson
Bablet, Denis, Revolutions in Stage Design of the 20th Century
Hays, David, Light on the Subject
Izenour, George, Theater Design
Jones, Robert E., The Dramatic Imagination
Mielziner, Jo, Designing for the Theatre
Svoboda, Josef, The Scenography of Josef Svoboda