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By: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

Book cover John Gabriel Borkman

John Gabriel Borkman is the penultimate play of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, written in 1896. The Borkman family fortunes have been brought low by the imprisonment of John Gabriel who used his position as a bank manager to illegally speculate with his investors' money. The action of the play takes place eight years after Borkman's release when John Gabriel Borkman, Mrs. Borkman, and her twin sister Ella Rentheim battle over the future of young Erhart Borkman. Though John Gabriel Borkman...

By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

The Proposal by Anton Chekhov The Proposal

The Proposal is a one act comic farce by Anton Chekhov. In Chekhov’s Russia, marriage was a means of economic stability for most people. They married to gain wealth and possessions. In this play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage – materialistic gain rather than true love.

The Seagull by Anton Chekhov The Seagull

The Seagull (Russian: Чайка, Chayka) is the first of what are generally considered to be the four major plays by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov. The play was written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. It dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the ingenue Nina, the fading leading lady Irina Arkadina, her son the experimental playwright Konstantin Treplyov, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin.

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play. The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage...

Book cover Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya (subtitled “Scenes From Country Life”) is a tragicomedy by Anton Chekhov. It is set on the failing country estate of a retired professor, Serebrakoff, who returns after a long absence with his beautiful young wife, and throws the household into confusion. Rivalry, unrequited love, illicit romance, and attempted suicide are the result, punctuated throughout by Chekhov’s sad, wistful humor.

By: Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)

Book cover She Stoops to Conquer

In She Stoops to Conquer, or The Mistakes of a Night, a young lady pretends to be a servant in order to win the notice of a young man who is painfully shy around women of his own class. Hilarious misadventures and mayhem ensue before matters are neatly wrapped up at the end. This play, one of the great English comedies, was first performed in 1773 and continues to be very popular with audiences today.

By: Aphra Behn (1640-1689)

Book cover Rover (Part One)

By: George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion

If you've watched and loved the delightful musical My Fair Lady, then you'd love to read the wonderful play on which it is based. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is equally engrossing and as full of charm, wit and underlying pathos. First performed on stage in 1912, Pygmalion takes its title from the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. In the ancient story, a brilliant sculptor, Pygmalion falls in love with one of his own creations, a ravishingly beautiful sculpture whom he names Galatea. He propitiates Aphrodite, who grants his wish that his statue would come to life and that he could marry her...

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man

Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that takes place in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina Petkoff is engaged to the gallant Sergius Saranoff, hero of the recent Bulgarian victory over the Serbs. But she is distracted by the abrupt arrival of Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary who fought for the Serbian army. He takes refuge in her bedroom after the battle and although he is initially threatening, reveals that he carries chocolates instead of bullets. Will Raina marry the posturing Sergius or the chocolate cream soldier? Extra intrigue is provided by saucy servant girl Louka, her dour fiance Nicola, and Raina's hand-wringing parents.

Mrs. Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw Mrs. Warren's Profession

The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Kitty Warren, a rich woman, described by the author as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman" and her daughter, Vivie. Mrs Warren is a middle-aged woman whose Cambridge-educated daughter, Vivie, is horrified to discover the morally questionable way her mother acquired her fortune.

Book cover The Doctor's Dilemma

The Doctor's Dilemma is about Dr. Colenso Ridgeon, who has recently been knighted because of a miraculous new treatment he developed for tuberculosis. As his friends arrive to congratulate him on his success, he is visited by two figures who present him with a difficult decision. He has room for one more patient in his clinic; should he give it to Louis Dubedat, a brilliant but absolutely immoral artist, or Dr. Blenkinsop, a poor and rather ordinary physician who is a truly good person? Dr. Ridgeon's dilemma is heightened when he falls for Jennifer Dubedat, the artist's wife, who is innocent of her husband's profligacy.

By: Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)

Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller Mary Stuart

Schiller's tragedy depicts the final days of Mary, Queen of Scots, who has been imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, because of her potential claim on the English throne. The action of the play revolves around an attempt to rescue Mary from prison and Elizabeth's indecision over whether or not to have her executed. The 1801 translation is by Joseph Mellish, a friend of Schiller's.

Book cover Love and Intrigue

Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke's court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke's mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father's plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him.

Book cover Love and Intrigue

Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke's court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke's mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father's plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him.

Book cover Camp of Wallenstein

This is the first play of Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein Trilogy. Set in a Bohemian camp during the Thirty Years War, it introduces the major characters of the rest of the trilogy, like Albrecht von Wallenstein and Max Piccolomini, from their subordinates' point of view.

By: Sophocles (c. 497 BC - c. 406 BC)

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles Oedipus Rex

Oedipus the King (often known by the Latin title Oedipus Rex) is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BC. It was the second of Sophocles's three Theban plays to be produced, but it comes first in the internal chronology, followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone. Over the centuries, it has come to be regarded by many as the Greek tragedy par excellence.

Antigone by Sophocles Antigone

This is the final installment in Sophocles's Theban Plays, following Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus. Oedipus's daughter Antigone deliberately breaks the laws of Thebes when she buries her brother's body and is sentenced to death. She clashes with Creon, the King of Thebes, over what constitutes justice and morality: the laws of the state or the laws of the individual.

Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus

This is the second installment in Sophocles's Theban Plays that chronicles the tragic fates of Oedipus and his family. After fulfilling the prophecy that predicted he would kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus blinds himself and leaves Thebes, to wander in the wilderness accompanied by his daughters Antigone and Ismene.

Book cover Electra

Sophocles' play dramatizes the aftermath of Agamemnon's murder by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. His daughter Electra is hungry for revenge and longs for the return of her brother Orestes to help her achieve her ends.

By: Anne Brontë (1820-1849)

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey is the daughter of a minister, whose family comes to financial ruin. Desperate to earn money to care for herself, she takes one of the few jobs allowed to respectable women in the early Victorian era, as a governess to the children of the wealthy. In working with two different families, the Bloomfields and the Murrays, she comes to learn about the troubles that face a young woman who must try to rein in unruly, spoiled children for a living, and about the ability of wealth and status to destroy social values. After her father's death, Agnes opens a small school with her mother and finds happiness with a man who loves her for herself.

By: G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Book cover Magic: A Fantastic Comedy

By: Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, normally known simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play.

The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta

Christopher “Kit” Marlowe (baptised 26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet, and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian before William Shakespeare, he is known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own untimely death. The Jew of Malta (1589) is an original story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean...

Tamburlaine the Great by Christopher Marlowe Tamburlaine the Great

Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'. Written in 1587 or 1588, the play is a milestone in Elizabethan public drama; it marks a turning away from the clumsy language and loose plotting of the earlier Tudor dramatists, and a new interest in fresh and vivid language, memorable action, and intellectual complexity. Along with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, it may be considered the first popular success of London's public stage...

Book cover Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1616 version)

The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play. "No Elizabethan play outside the Shakespeare canon has raised more controversy than Doctor Faustus. There is no agreement concerning the nature of the text and the date of composition...

Book cover Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1616 version)

The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play. "No Elizabethan play outside the Shakespeare canon has raised more controversy than Doctor Faustus. There is no agreement concerning the nature of the text and the date of composition...

Book cover Edward II

Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan tragedy focuses on the downfall of King Edward II, whose love for his favorite courtier, Piers Gaveston, leads to rebellion.

By: Oliver Optic (1822-1897)

The Birthday Party, A Story For Little Folks by Oliver Optic The Birthday Party, A Story For Little Folks

Flora Lee’s birthday came in July. Her mother wished very much to celebrate the occasion in a proper manner. Flora was a good girl, and her parents were always glad to do any thing they could to please her, and to increase her happiness.

By: J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)

Book cover Dear Brutus

At a house in the country 8 guests are invited to enter a magical wood to see what might have happened had they made a different choice in life. Even though they are warned away from the wood, they take a chance and enter. The title comes from Shakespeare: "The fault lies in our selves, dear Brutus, not in our stars...," and summarizes the theme of this play: given a second chance, will people still make the same mistakes?

By: George Bernard Shaw

Candida by George Bernard Shaw Candida

Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband. The cleric is a Fabian Socialist, allowing Shaw—himself a Fabian—to weave political issues, current at the time, into the story.

Book cover Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara focuses on the family of aristocratic Lady Britomart Undershaft and her estranged husband Andrew, a millionaire armaments manufacturer. Their daughters Sarah and Barbara are both engaged to be married, and Lady Britomart decides to ask Andrew for monetary support. Barbara is a Major in the Salvation Army, and agrees to let her father visit the mission in the East End of London where she works. In exchange, she agrees to visit his munitions factory. The conflict between Barbara's philanthropic idealism and her father's hard-headed capitalism clash when he decides he wants to fund the Salvation Army...

Book cover Don Juan in Hell

Don Juan in Hell is an excerpt (Act 3, Scene 2) from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. It is often performed as a stand-alone play. In it, three characters from Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Don Juan, Dona Ana, and the statue of the Commendatore, Dona Ana’s father) meet in Hell and, joined by the Devil, have a philosophical debate on a variety of subjects, including Heaven and Hell, men, women and marriage. In the end, they all decide where they will spend eternity.


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