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5 Plays You Should Read, Watch, or Perform

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by Sally-Jane (subscribe)
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves - Anna Quindlen.
Published August 18th 2012
Experience the pleasure of performance

I have always been a bit of a 'drama' queen. I have had a passion for acting from a very young age. I never used to enjoy reading plays, however, only acting them. That being said, since starting my studies at University I have had my eyes opened to the pleasure of reading plays as well as acting them. I know that reading plays is not to everyone's taste, just as acting isn't either. I have brought together a selection of plays that I believe can be good to either read, watch and/or perform.

Noughts & Crosses by Dominic Cooke

This play is an adaptation from Malorie Blackman's novel by Dominic Cooke. I have read the Noughts & Crosses series that Malorie Blackman wrote and it is one of my favourite series of all time. It demonstrates the societal divisions that are created by racial bigotry. Within this novel is a love story that is extremely gripping. I would love to have the chance to watch this being performed on stage.

Read? I find it an extremely gripping story. If you wanted to just read the story line I advise you read the series written by Malorie Blackman, however.

Watch? A chance to see this performed on a stage should not be missed. I can only imagine how brilliant it is to watch Malorie Blackman's story come to life. It is premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company; I have seen some of their other productions and not been disappointed.

Perform? Ensure that you have the right actors for each part. You need two strong performers for the parts of Callum and Sephy the two love interests.

Blood Brothers by Willy Russell

Blood Brothers is a 'Liverpudlian West Side Story' about twin brothers that were separated at birth, written in the 1980s. They have grown up on opposite sides of society and form a friendship without knowing the truth about their relation to one another. It is a deeply moving story with some shocking events throughout.

Read? Often it is hard to read plays, but Blood Brothers is very easy to follow.

Watch? I was lucky enough to watch this play for my Drama GCSE studies. It is extremely powerful to watch and brings the story to life so much better than from just paper. The actors I saw were very talented and displayed the emotions and relationships beautifully.

Perform? Blood Brothers is actually a musical, so if you are able to add this into the performance then it is worth pursuing. You could always perform the songs as speech but it did bring a brilliant effect when watched as a musical, in my opinion.

Decky Does a Bronco by Douglas Maxwell

I am not sure how well known this play is but I performed this for my Drama GCSE assessment. It is set in the summer of 1983; 'broncoing swings' is how a gang of nine-year-old boys spend their time in the playground (kicking swings over the bar). I played Decky in the performance; the smallest of the group who is unable to bronco like the others. David is the narrator of the play and he relieves the events to the audience. Towards the end, some tragic events are revealed.

Read? I think reading this play is the least entertaining way to experience this story. However, it is quite easy to follow this play in written form.

Watch? I recommend watching this play if you ever get the chance. I have never been able to experience this and I would be intrigued to see how they perform certain elements. It is bound to be entertaining and extremely clever.

Perform? If it is possible for you to perform this, then I recommend you do so. I had a lot of fun performing this and thoroughly enjoyed becoming the character of Decky. The D.T. department managed to make us a swing set from wood which I was able to swing on. This looked absolutely brilliant. I am sure there are a number of ways you could be creative to achieve the swing affect without a set.

Shakers by John Godber & Jane Thornton

Another play I discovered during my Drama studies. It is quite well known in the industry. It is based on four girls working in a cocktail bar. You see all the ins and outs of the bar in this hilarious rendition of what it is really like to be a waitress.

Read? Due to the short lines that each character has it is quite hard to read if you are not performing it.

Watch? You should definitely watch if you ever have the chance as it can be performed in many different ways. It is interesting to see what kind of a spin is put on each character.

Perform? It is a lot of fun to perform (as I discovered)! It is hard to remember all lines but it is easy to find snippets of each part. You can choose different bits depending on which you find the most entertaining.

The Lady from the Sea by Henrik Isben

Ellida swims every day in the sea. She is married to Dr Wangel. However, before she met him she promised herself to another man. The 'boat is rocked' when this man comes to find her. Written in the 1888, Isben demonstrates a lot of themes around femininity and empowerment.

Read? It is easy to follow this play in written form and once you get into it, it doesn't feel much different than reading a novel.

Watch? Recently the theatre in Kingston put on a version by Stephen Unwin. I didn't get the chance to see it but this is the version of the play I read. I expect it would be more entertaining when performed.

Perform? If the play appeals to you then I see no reason why you shouldn't attempt to perform it. There are only eight characters in the play so shouldn't be too hard to find the right number of actors.
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Why? It can be interesting to read plays
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Your Comment
I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't heard of the first four, but I agree completely with The Lady from the Sea, Ibsen was an insanely talented playwright.
by Carly Ogborne (score: 3|4626) 2740 days ago
My kind of informative and thoughtful post. I've been more alert to lit tips here and there recently. Blackman's series is new to me (here in the States). Requested "N&C" from library and picked it up yesterday. Will check for the play elsewhere. Thanks.
by filmb (score: 1|11) 2743 days ago
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