John Ford’s Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1633). This passionate seventeenth-century play is the masterpiece of Caroline theater. The dominant theme is as shocking today as it was then: the incestuous love of the siblings Gionvanni and Arabella. Ford delights in exploring the ethical paradoxes created by this love.
August Strindberg’s naturalist drama Miss Julie (1888) is now a staple of mainstream theater, but in its own day it was banned by the Danish censor. In the play, Strindberg explores the theme of cross-class love.
Stoppard’s Arcadia (1993) is an entertaining play about the Romantic poet Byron’s disappearance from Britain in 1809 and other unanswered riddles of Romanticism. It spans two different time periods. Arcadia was heralded as Stoppard’s most intellectually ambitious play yet.
Yasmina Reza’s Art (1997) is a wildly successful French play, translated into English, about three friends’ different reactions to a new painting (a black canvas) that one of them has purchased.
Shakespeare in Love by Stoppard and Marc Norman (1998). See this Oscar-winning film to learn more about Stoppard—and about Shakespeare’s plays Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night.
American novelist and essayist Norman Mailer wrote the naturalist novel The Naked and the Dead (1948), about the fates of thirteen infantry men who survive the invasion of a Japanese-held island in World War II, as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction work, The Armies of the Night (1968) about a pacifist march on the Pentagon in 1967.
Alan Ayckbourn’s A Chorus of Disapproval (1984) is a good play to compare to Stoppard’s The Real Thing, for both plays were written within a few years of each other and both use the device of the play-within-a-play. Ayckbourn’s play is set in a small provincial town and is about the antics of an amateur musical society.
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