Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Raiding the Bookshelves: Doing the Time Warp

So I've amassed a serious library of plays, theatre textbooks, and commentaries over the years. I thought  I might like to let you see some of my favorite books and some memories behind them. Today's focus is on some of the first few plays that i had in my collection, starting in High School.  Just a Caveat: I don't own the rights to these books, either the pictures or the words within. I'm just telling everyone how awesome they are. 

Well let's get started...

The Collected Plays of Neil Simon: Volume 1

This was one of the first play collections that I got when I was doing shows in highschool. I had started off by reading Star Spangled Girl for scenes that we were doing for class. Something about how Neil Simon can weave a drama around the simple and somewhat silly domestic woes that we deal with everyday is amazing! He carries that into his work on the books of musicals such as Promises Promises. He makes much out humanity's nothing, shows us the gold that can be spun out of our straw. And for that I'll always love him.

Man and Superman and Three Other Plays by: George Bernard Shaw

When you're in High School I guess you're supposed to be spending your money on Harry Potter books or one of the other Pop Novel fodder. But when I was at a Church Camp at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina when I made my first purchase at a college bookstore this was the first book that caught my eye. I devoured the book...starting a Mrs. Warren's Profession (Which being a play about a prostitute rocked my Southern Baptist world). Bernard Shaw has a way of using epic strokes to compose wonderful stories. A lot of his plays seem to fit that style of British Plays (rich people dealing with rich people problems) but the are others that deal with the terrors of the conscience and the darker struggles of the everyman. If you're ever looking for a great play from a good time period for the theatre Bernard Shaw is the way to go!

Hide and Seek by Lezley Havard

As most theatre people know you accumulate more plays by working on them than by browsing the book store. This was the first play that I worked crew on in High School. The playwright isn't that famous (as in I haven't read anything else from her) but makes a great domestic story. Hide and Seek is a psychological thriller that centers on a family that moves into a new house (not original I know). But she incorporates the skeletons in every family's closet and the power of forgotten secrets to make a truly scary story. She's a playwright that I should be looking at more.

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance

Any one who knows the movie that this was based off of starring Anthony Hopkins knows the story of this play. I picked this play up by rummaging through a siblings books that she was going to give away to charity. I picked it up and sat down to read. Three hours later I was done and crying. There are times when we find ourselves having to deal with the ugliness that we feel inside. Sometimes we feel so ugly that no one would ever want to touch us. Bernard Pomerance uses this Docudrama to teach us the beauty in everyone.  This is a play that I HAVE to direct someday because it still moves me every time that I reread it.  If you ever want to find a play with such touching romance and an inspiring story please pick this one up.

Final Thoughts

It's been fun looking up some of the mainstays of my collection. These plays have touched my life in a very special way that I just have to share with someone else. And that's what a good playwright does. He offers a great play that touches the reader in such a way they have a compelling feeling to do something with it. 

Have you ever felt that way about a dramatic work? About another work of art? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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