This is the 5th post in the series "A CASE FOR READING...."
"A CASE FOR READING PLAYS" is written by Reuben Turner.
"Why Read Plays?
First up, I should state that I’m not writing about attending performances of plays… obviously plays are written to be performed, however, if your geographical location or finances hold you back from getting to the theatre, how about sitting down and reading a play yourself? Here’s a few reasons why it’s worth grabbing two hours on that rainy Sunday afternoon to read a play.
Plays are an important ancient form of literature. Despite thousands of years passing, we still study, perform and find meaning in ancient Greek plays by authors such as Euripides and Sophocles. Plays, especially the works of William Shakespeare, have shaped our culture, language, opinions and traditions.
Plays can tell historical stories. They may narrate the lives and tales of real people, often well known historical figures of their day. They also provide a window on the culture, society and notable events of the time period in which the play was set and written.
Pushing boundaries has always been a huge part of playwriting. Historically, plays have generally been edgy, interesting and controversial. Playwrights aim to break new ground and upset or question social norms. Some plays such as Lysistrata have been
banned time and time again over the two and a half thousand years since it was written. Indeed even fairly well known plays such as The Importance Of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice have been banned at one point or another. If you want to read something edgy and challenging then how about a play!
Plays are short. Some people love tucking into the one thousand pages of a classic novel, yet many of us just don’t have the time or energy to make that commitment. A play is an engaging read, which may easily be started and finished within a couple of hours.
Generally a play is designed to capture an audience’s attention and hold it over the course of a few hours. Plays are a highly immersive, descriptive and ‘pacey’ read. While reading one may not be as powerful as seeing it performed, it will still be highly engrossing!!
So what play(s) should you read and where would you find them? In answer I would ask how often we see a great movie then buy the book its based on… many films started out as plays, why not give one of them a whirl? Or maybe you enjoyed a performance of a play in the past or studied it back in high school… how about reading it? Having
a mental image or a little knowledge of what’s happening in a play, I find helps me to understand and enjoy reading it. Plays are cheap to purchase online through websites such as thebookdepository (which ships free globally), trademe (New Zealand) or abebooks. Otherwise your local library or second hand bookshop is bound to have a section devoted to them. A few plays I have enjoyed or found to be interesting reading recently have been:
The Importance Of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde),
A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams),
Our Town (Thornton Wilder),
A View From The Bridge (Arthur Miller).
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ investigate the bookshelves at home or the library and enjoy a reading a play.