April 12, 2011

Best. Books. Ever: Plays & Dramas

Today's Best. Books. Ever. stems from my love of drama and plays. As a student, I enjoyed plays thoroughly each time we read one in class. I liked being able to hear the different voices and seeing the different actors play out their roles. Now, I must admit, although I love reading, love English, and love literature, I have never been a huge fan of Shakespeare. I admire him, I respect the heck out of him, but I'm not one to jump to his texts when teaching. I just don't feel confident with him. So, here's a twist on your typical English class dramas, American literature style!


1. A Raisin in the Sun is one of my favorite plays to teach at my current high school as it is loaded with complex characters that are easy for my students to relate to. The language is easy to read--infact, I remember reading this text in one day during a summer when I was in college--but really establishes character motivation and conflict. All of my students have absolutely adored this drama. It's also pretty cool that is is based on Lorianne Hansberry's father's experience taking a case to the Supreme Court! Loads of historical releavance and talking points, for sure.

2. A Streetcar Named Desire is my favorite Tennessee Williams drama and is the epitome of sexy (to me at least). Loads of hot lines and sentences, this piece is a cornerstone for contemporary American drama. A must read for mature audiences (think 11th or 12th grade) students who really need a juicy read. A good foundation when discussing expectations, trust, and the differences in siblings.

3. Our Town by Thorton Wilder is a masterpiece. If you read it in high school and hated it, read it again during your adult life, and you'll have a completely different experience. Honestly, I feel as if our experiences (as a country, not individually) with marriage, the growth of relationships, and how we view our relationship expectations is all discussed within this play. It's a heartbreaker and completely profound.

4. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is my favorite Miller play. I remember reading this in AP English in high school and it striking a nerve. A great play that discusses how we will all inevitably be left behind by the contstant growth of technology, industry, and mass media marketing. The story within this play still brings sadness over me... but in the best possible way.

Other recommendations that didn't make the Top 4:
"Mullato" by Langston Hughes
"A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen

Have you read any of these?
Do you remember reading these in high school?


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