I would say Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream are the most well known, but I noticed that not everyone chose the same plays. I think that's kind of funny. I guess we should take a survey, because really many of them are well known.
I agree that the tragedies dominate in our school. It seems that there is more to learn from the hardship of life than from mistaken identity. We teach Romeo and Juliet probably under the assumption that the love story is appealing to students. I personally think the play is a overly challenging introduction to Shakespeare, but it works well enough. I have lobbied for a comedy, but alas...
We also teach Julius Caesar, Hamlet or Macbeth, and The Merchant of Venice. While Merchant may technically be a comedy, we talk about the comedy and the tragedy inherent in the play. I do think that we hit on the at least three of the most popular.
In school, I'd say the most often read Shakespeare plays include the following: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's an interesting mix, because only a few of them are comedies, meaning we're pretty heavy on the tragedies. perhaps because tragic characters are actually more relatable than comic characters. We generally know someone who is, in some way, like the villains of these plays.
Romeo and Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Those are the four that have been taught at all of the high schools I have known. I also think you could throw in Macbeth. Most people don't read beyond those plays unless they actually study Shakespeare in college.
Since I teach high school English, the following tend to be the most well - known: Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew, and Othello.
In terms of least well - known...I would have to save most of the histories, Titus Adronicus, and Troilus and Cressida.
I would tend to say they are the following: Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. However, plays like Othello, Macbeth, Twelth Night, Taming of the Shrew, and the King Henry series are also very well known.
There are also many poetric works for which Shakespeare is also known. Check out his collective works; "the bard" is one of literature's most versatile and prolific playwrites!