by Chara Kitsaki
“The stage is a magic circle where only the most real things happen, a neutral territory outside the jurisdiction of Fate where stars may be crossed with impunity. A truer and more real place does not exist in all the universe.”
P.S. Baber, Cassie Draws the Universe
When you have a blog, every day becomes an interesting opportunity to write about something new. And, of course you start to gradually realise that there are an awful lot of days dedicated to a variety of different subjects…
The curtain rising, the lights dimming, the smell of the wooden stage and the dinging sound of the last bell. There is no sensation that can come close to the moments before a play begins. Fascination, anticipation and a tingling feeling at the back of your neck, just moments before you immerse yourself in a world a breath away from your seat.
World Theatre Day was first initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute and since then, has been traditionally celebrated on the 27th of March. After Mother’s Day then, here is our new (and surprisingly first!) post about favourite plays…
“It’s liberation to know that an act of spontaneous courage is yet possible in this world. An act that has something of unconditional beauty.”
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen: The story of Hedda Gabler, a socialite of the Norwegian upper class, who faces the dread and utter boredom of a middle-class marital life and the consequences of trying to meddle with human fate. Incredible characters and outstanding snippets of enigmatic and witty dialogue that will be really hard to miss! Was on stage at the National Theatre in London and is still available in a NT: Live performance. For more information click here.
“The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy”
The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: The story of Willy Loman, a middle-aged travelling salesman from Brooklyn, who struggles with the gradual crumble of a generation and a national ambition. If there is a play that describes in the most accurate way the dangers and risks of spending your whole life in pursuit of the American Dream, then ‘The Death of a Salesman’ is it. With a moving plot, innovative stage directions and a great cinematic adaptation with Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich, ‘The Death of a Salesman’ is a true dramatic masterpiece.
“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And if that’s sinful, then let me be damned for it!”
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: The story of young Blanche DuBois, a woman of “loose morals,” who, while visiting her sister Stella and her husband in law Stanley Kowalski, tries to come to terms with her changing life. Evicted from her house and penniless, Blanche lives in a perpetual state of panic about her fading beauty. A play about the implications of social position, sexual property, the life of fading Southern belles and reversal of values, A Streetcar Named Desire is considered Tennessee William’s best work. For those of you who are not that keen on reading plays, I would whole heartedly suggest watching the homonymous cinematic adaptation, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Vivien Leigh and Marlo Brando as Blanche and Stanley. It’s truly worth it!
“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natrual shocks That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep”
Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Perhaps one of the most adapted plays of our times, Hamlet is the story of a young Prince seeking retaliation and compensation for his father’s death. Set in a fictional kingdom in Denmark, Hamlet is a timeless play illustrating the perils of seeking vengeance as well as the corruption and deceit of multilayered politics. In the question, to see, or not to see, the answer is simple: everyone should read or see Hamlet at least one during their lives. Almeida Theatre in London is currently staging a production of Hamlet with Andrew Scott (known for his role as Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock). For more information click here.
“How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken”
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams: The story of a family. A family with relations forged through insecurities, fear and intimidation. ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is a five-character play, with Laura, a young woman crippled by shyness and pathologically attached to her collection of glass animals, Tom, the narrator and Laura’s older brother who tries inevitably to escape from the binds of his family and Amanda, a mother who yearns for comfort through suffocating constrains on her two children. A play dealing with pain, memory and highly autobiographical, The Glass Menagerie is a moving and poignant piece of drama. For Londoners, check the Duke of York’s Theatre if interested in seeing a new stage production of this Tennessee Williams play here!
And since it’s World Theatre Day (and not British and American…) here is an extra list of Greek comedies and tragedies everyone should try (even if it’s in translation…!)
- The Birds (Οι Όρνιθες) by Aristophanes (Αριστοφάνης)
- Antigone (Αντιγόνη) by Sophocles (Σοφοκλής)
- Helen (Ελένη) by Euripides (Ευριπίδης)
- Peace (Ειρήνη) by Aristophanes (Αριστοφάνης)
By pressing on the titles of each comedy/tragedy you will find a link to a performance of each play. While most are in Greek, they all include video and/or photo footage that is definitely worth your time…