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By: August von Kotzebue (1761-1819)

Lover's Vows by August von Kotzebue Lover's Vows

Lovers' Vows (1798), a play by Elizabeth Inchbald arguably best known now for having been featured in Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park (1814), is one of at least four adaptations of August von Kotzebue's Das Kind der Liebe (1780; literally "Child of Love," or "Natural Son," as it is often translated), all of which were published between 1798 and 1800. Inchbald's version is the only one to have been performed. Dealing as it does with sex outside marriage and illegitimate birth, Inchbald in the Preface to the published version declares herself to have been highly sensitive to the task of adapting the original German text for "an English audience...

By: Augusta Stevenson (1869-1976)

Book cover Children's Classics in Dramatic Form

By: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson The Alchemist

An outbreak of plague in London forces a gentleman, Lovewit, to flee temporarily to the country, leaving his house under the sole charge of his butler, Jeremy. Jeremy uses the opportunity given to him to use the house as the headquarters for fraudulent acts. He transforms himself into 'Captain Face', and enlists the aid of Subtle, a fellow conman and Dol Common, a prostitute. In The Alchemist, Jonson unashamedly satirizes the follies, vanities and vices of mankind, most notably greed-induced credulity...

Book cover Volpone, or, The Fox

Volpone is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed play, and it is among the finest Jacobean Era comedies. Volpone is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed, after a long illness, in order to dupe Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, three men who aspire to inherit his fortune. In their turns, each man arrives to Volpone’s house bearing a luxurious gift, intent upon having his name inscribed to the will of Volpone, as his heir...

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

The Strange Gentleman by Charles Dickens The Strange Gentleman

Before he became a novelist, Dickens wrote several successful plays. This one from 1836, his first, he called, "A Comic Burletta in Two Acts". Characters arrive at a village inn called "The St. James Arms" and much confusion ensues.

By: Charles Lamb

Book cover Mr. H

Mr H is a farce that was first performed at Drury Lane in 1806. The plot is slender and revolves around a single rather feeble joke, but the characters are skilfully drawn and the sharp observations of contemporary fashion do much to divert the listener from the weakness of the central theme. More a comedy of manners rather than a true farce, this short play is best enjoyed as a gentle romp through the eccentricities of the Regency period.

By: Charles Macklin (1699-1797)

Book cover Will and No Will or a Bone for the Lawyers

This "Afterpiece" - a short play to follow a main production - was first produced in 1746. It was based on Regnard's five-act comedy le Legetaire Universel (1707), which is itself a composite of Italian comedy with echoes of Molière, moving from scene to scene with little effort at logical consistency or structure but treating each scene autonomously for its own comic value. The rather long Prologue to A WILL AND NO WILL (11 pages of manuscript) makes fun of the convention of the eighteenth century prologues by the familiar dodge of having actors chatting as though they were in the Pit waiting for the actors in the preceding main play to dress for the afterpiece.

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: David Belasco (1853-1931)

Book cover Return of Peter Grimm

By: Edmund John Eyre (1767-1816)

Book cover Lady of the Lake

At the request of Mr. Siddons, Manager and Patentee of the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, the following Performance was composed. I am very sensible that Mr. Scott’s Poem of “The Lady of the Lake” afforded material for a much superior Drama than the one here presented to the public; but as Mr. Siddons, in all his correspondence with me on the subject, urged expedition, I was more attentive to the interest of a Friend than to the fame of an Author; and the whole piece was arranged, written, and copied in the short space of ten days...

By: Edward Sheldon (1886-1946)

Book cover Boss

The Boss centers on the relationship between Michael Regan, an Irish-American businessman, and Emily Griswold, an outspoken American girl bent on saving her father's business. Set during a time when unions fought for wages and bosses fought for more stake in their company, the play's relevance strikes at the heart of economic issues and hardships in modern day America.

By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

A Drama of Exile by Elizabeth Barrett Browning A Drama of Exile

In writing her ‘Drama of Exile’, Barrett’s subject was ‘the new and strange experience of the fallen humanity, as it went forth from Paradise into the wilderness’. The bizarre, lyrical scenes that follow powerfully describe the grief and guilt of Eve, the sorrowful pride of Lucifer, and the redeeming power of love.

By: Elizabeth Cary (1585-1639)

Book cover Tragedy of Mariam

The Tragedy of Mariam (1613) is the first original drama written in English by a woman. Elizabeth Cary drew on Jewish histories by Josephus to create a closet drama (written to be read, rather than performed live) about Mariam, the second wife of Herod the Great. At the beginning of the play, Mariam believes that Herod has been killed by Octavius, and struggles with how to respond. On the one hand, she is relieved, as she is angry with Herod for killing her brother and grandfather. On the other, she knows that he loved her, and she feels caught by her sense of duty as his wife. When Herod unexpectedly returns, Mariam must decide what to do.

By: Eugene O'Neill

Anna Christie by Eugene O'Neill Anna Christie

Eugene O'Neill's drama Anna Christie was first produced on Broadway in 1921 and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1922. It focuses on three main characters: Chris Christopherson, a Swedish captain of a coal barge and longtime seaman, his daughter Anna, who has grown up separated from her father on a Minnesota farm, and Mat Burke, an Irish stoker who works on steamships. At the beginning of the play Chris and Anna are reunited after fifteen years apart. Anna comes to live on her father's coal barge, but hides the secret of her past from him. When she meets Mat after an accident in the fog, they almost immediately fall in love - but Anna finds that forging a new future will not be easy.

Beyond the Horizon by Eugene O'Neill Beyond the Horizon

Beyond the Horizon is a 1920 play written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill. It was O'Neill's first full-length work, and the winner of the 1920 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play focuses on the portrait of a family, and particularly two brothers Andrew and Robert. In the first act of the play, Robert is about to go off to sea with their uncle Dick, a sea captain while Andrew looks forward to marrying his sweetheart Ruth and working on the family farm as he starts a family.

By: Euripides (480-406 BC)

The Bacchae by Euripides The Bacchae

This tragedy is based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave, and their punishment by the god Dionysus (who is Pentheus' cousin) for refusing to worship him.

The Trojan Women by Euripides The Trojan Women

Euripides' play follows the fates of the women of Troy after their city has been sacked, their husbands killed, and as their remaining families are about to be taken away as slaves. However, it begins first with the gods Athena and Poseidon discussing ways to punish the Greek armies because they condoned Ajax the Lesser for dragging Cassandra away from Athena's temple. What follows shows how much the Trojan women have suffered as their grief is compounded when the Greeks dole out additional deaths and divide their shares of women.

Book cover Medea

Euripides' tragedy focuses on the disintegration of the relationship between Jason, the hero who captured the Golden Fleece, and Medea, the sorceress who returned with him to Corinth and had two sons with him. As the play opens, Jason plans to marry the daughter of King Creon, and the lovesick Medea plots how to take her revenge.

Book cover Hippolytus

Eurpides' tragedy tells of Theseus' chaste son Hippolytus, who refuses to worship Aphrodite in favor of Artemis. Aphrodite gets revenge by causing Hippolytus' stepmother Phaedra to fall in love with him, unleashing a chain of tragic events.

By: Florence Holbrook (1860-1932)

Book cover Dramatic Reader for Lower Grades

Despite the title's bland sounding name, this book is a charming collection of 16 plays for children. These little plays—well-known stories done into dialogue—were written for children who like to imagine themselves living with their favorite characters in forest, in palace, or in fairyland. Included are Cinderella, Robin Hood, William Tell, Hansel and Gretel and many more.

By: Frances Browne (1816-1879)

Granny's Wonderful Chair by Frances Browne Granny's Wonderful Chair

Her most famous work, Granny's Wonderful Chair, was published in 1856 and it is still in print to this day. It is a richly imaginative book of fairy stories and has been translated into many languages. This work, read as a child by Frances Hodgson Burnett, inspired the writings of Little Saint Elizabeth and Other Stories

By: Francis Beaumont (1584-1616)

The Maid's Tragedy by Francis Beaumont The Maid's Tragedy

Beaumont and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy (first published 1619) is a sensational Jacobean sex tragedy. When gentleman soldier Melantius returns to Rhodes, he finds his dear friend Amintor is recently married - but not to his troth-plight love Aspatia (the maid of the title). Instead, the King has arranged a match between Amintor and Melantius' sister, the beautiful Evadne. On his wedding night, Amintor finds that his new wife has married him under false pretenses - and this unleashes a torrent of dire consequences, sexual, emotional, and ultimately political.

By: Frank Wedekind

Book cover The Awakening of Spring

The Awakening of Spring is the German dramatist Frank Wedekind's first major play and a seminal work in the modern history of theatre. It is the source material for the contemporary rock musical Spring Awakening. The play criticises the sexually-oppressive culture of fin de siècle Germany and offers a vivid dramatisation of the erotic fantasies that it breeds. Due to the nature of its content, the play has often been banned.

Book cover Pandora's Box
Book cover Earth Spirit

Earth Spirit (1895) (Erdgeist) is a play by the German dramatist Frank Wedekind. It forms the first part of his pairing of 'Lulu' plays (the second is Pandora's Box [1904]), both of which depict a society "riven by the demands of lust and greed". Together with Pandora's Box, Wedekind's play formed the basis for the silent film Pandora's Box (1929) starring Louise Brooks and the opera Lulu by Alban Berg in 1935 (premiered posthumously in 1937). The eponymous "earth spirit" of this play is Lulu, who Wedekind described as a woman "created to stir up great disaster...

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.


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