A Midsummer Night’s Read: 10 Plays to Read (or Re-Read) this Summer

A Midsummer Night’s Read: 10 Plays to Read (or Re-Read) this Summer

Brittany Strelluf

There are dozens of classics that every actor needs to read, but sometimes the artist needs to explore a side of their passion that isn’t quite as daunting as, say Titus Andronicus.  This is especially when there are warm evenings full of fireflies to be caught. 

When sitting on a dock on a lake, spending a lazy day by the pool, or sunning on a sandy beach, it can be hard to focus on the more dramatic theatrical classics. So here is a list of quality plays that make for a lighter summer read. 

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams  

The Glass Menagerie is a masterpiece of American theatre and a reflection of Tennessee Williams tragic life.  An enjoyable read that only gets better every time it’s read and performed.  This is a play everyone -not just actors-should read at one point. 

Jeb Burris (left) as Jim O’Connor and Sara J. Griffin as Laura Wingfield in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 production of The Glass Menagerie. PHOTO BY KARL HUGH. COPYRIGHT UTAH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL 2011

Jeb Burris (left) as Jim O’Connor and Sara J. Griffin as Laura Wingfield in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 production of The Glass Menagerie. PHOTO BY KARL HUGH. COPYRIGHT UTAH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL 2011

All in the Timing by David Ives

David Ives has become a legend to students of the forensics world. His works are hilarious, faced paced, and very enjoyable. This is a great script for young actors and drama teachers to get to know.

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson

Everyone knows the story about Helen Keller and her Governess Anne Sullivan.  Time Magazine once called this show  "a story that, however well known, acquires stunning new reality…on the stage.” 

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

You would never know this play first performed in 1895. This play was in stark contrast to the more serious works of the time. It is wonderfully funny, and charming. A perfect way to spend an afternoon. 

Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring 

If you like your comedy on the dark side. Arsenic and Old Lace is a great one to check out. It is a hilarious show about the Brewster family. This includes two spinster aunts who turn out to be homicidal, and a brother who is believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and spends his days digging the Panama Canal in the family basement. 

Proof by David Auburn

This script is an unbelievably engaging and incredibly well-written piece about genius and madness. While it is dramatic, it is laced with some fun humor. Once you start it you won’t be able to put it down. 

Kristen Bush, Jessica Dickey and Michael Braun perform in "Proof" at  McCarter Theatre in Princeton. NJ Photo courtesy of Richard Termine.

Kristen Bush, Jessica Dickey and Michael Braun perform in "Proof" at  McCarter Theatre in Princeton. NJ Photo courtesy of Richard Termine.

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

This is the story of My Fair Lady, in which Henry Higgens seeks to educate Eliza Doolittle to pass her as a gentile lady. Written in 1912, it is an enjoyable read and a must for any theatre kid. If you like Downtown Abbey, you will appreciate this piece.

 Harvey by Mary Chass

Written in 1944, this play is a Pulitzer Prize Winner for a reason.  The plot revolves around Elwood P. Dowd and his unseen friend Harvey, a six foot tall rabbit.  The film adaptation stars Jimmy Stewart, making for a great summer movie night. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

No must-read play list would be complete without a Shakespeare.  If you haven’t picked up a Shakespeare in a while, go grab Midsummer Night’s Dream and get transported to a forest of fairies, star-crossed lovers and an actors troupe. 

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

Dancing at Lughnasa is a great show to have in your back pocket. Set in 1936 Ireland - it is a must for students who are active in high school and college theatre, as it has scenes that can be used in classes and is very endearing. 

"Dancing at Lughnasa" at the Wilton Playshop(Wilton, CT) are Patrick Duffy as Michael and Alexandria Clapp as Christina in the foreground. In back, Julie Thaxter-Gourlay as Maggie comforts Shelley Lepetich as Kate. Photo: Wilton Playshop

"Dancing at Lughnasa" at the Wilton Playshop(Wilton, CT) are Patrick Duffy as Michael and Alexandria Clapp as Christina in the foreground. In back, Julie Thaxter-Gourlay as Maggie comforts Shelley Lepetich as Kate. Photo: Wilton Playshop

Whether or not you chose any of the plays on this list, summer is a great time to pick up a good story and expand your theatrical repertory.

 Happy reading! 

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