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IB Theatre - Director's Notebook: American & Canadian Plays

Plays by American Playwrights

Find Drama for Students articles and WSA Library books with plays from the American and Canadian Canada playwrights listed below.  Also see:

Digital Theatre Plus - for films of theatre productions

Writers with plays in the WSA library are marked with:   

Joan Ackermann  ( 19??- )
Edward Albee ( 1928 - ) 
George L. Aiken (1830 - 1876 ) 
Maxwell Anderson (1888 - 1959)
David Auburn  (1970 - )
Robert Auletta  (1940 - ) 
James Baldwin  ( 1924 - 1987 )
Amiri Baraka  ( 1934 - 2014 )  
Philip Barry  ( 1896 - 1949 )
Douglas Carter Beane (1959 - )
Norman Beim  (1923 - )
Jessica Blank  (1975 - )
Lee Blessing  (1949 - )

Marita Bonner  ( 1899 - 1971 )
Mel Brooks   ( 1926 - )
Mary Chase   ( 1907 - 1981 )

Paddy Chayefsky  ( 1923 - 1981 )
Alice Childress  ( 1916 - 1994 )
Pearl Cleage  ( 1948 - )
D. L. Coburn ( 1938 - )
Marc Connelly  ( 1890 - 1980 )  
Michael Cristofer  ( 1945 - )
Russel Crouse  (  1893 - 1966 )  

Mart Crowley  ( 1935 - )
Migdalia Cruz  (1958 - )
Nilo Cruz  (1961 - )

Ariel Dorfman  ( 1942 - )
Christopher Durang  (1949 - )  
Margaret Edson  (1961 - )

T. S. Eliot  ( 1888 - 1965 )
Eve Ensler  (1953 - )

Nora Ephron  ( 1941 - 2012 )
Harvey Fierstein  ( 1954 - )
Lucille Fletcher  ( 1912 - 2000 )
Horton Foote  ( 1916 - 2009 )
Maria Irene Fornes  (1930 - )  

Charles H. Fuller  ( 1939 - )

Zona Gale  ( 1874 - 1938 )
Herb Gardner  (  1934 - 2003 )

Alice Gerstenberg  ( 1885 - 1972 )
William Gibson  ( 1914 - 2008 )
Rebecca Gilman  ( 1965 - )
Frank D. Gilroy  (  1925 - 2015 )

Susan Glaspell  ( 1876 - 1948 )
James A. Goldman  ( 1927 - 1998)

Frances Goodrich  ( 1890? - 1984 )
Richard Greenberg  ( 1958 - )  
John Guare  ( 1938 - )  
Albert Hackett  ( 1900 - 1995 )
Helene Hanff  ( 1916 - 1997 )
Lorraine Hansberry  ( 1930 - 1965 )
Bill Harris  ( 1941 - )
Moss Hart  (1904 - 1961 )  

Joseph Hayes  ( 1918 - 2006 )
Ben Hecht  ( 1894 - 1964 )  

Thomas Heggen  ( 1919 - 1949 )
Lillian Hellman  ( 1905 - 1984 )  
Beth Henley  ( 1952 - )  
Tomson Highway  ( 1951 - )  Canada

Mark Hollman  ( 1963 - )
Sidney Howard  ( 1891 - 1939 )  
Tina Howe  ( 1937 - )  
Langston Hughes  ( 1902 - 1967 )
Zora Neale Hurston  ( 1891 - 1960 )
David Henry Hwang  ( 1957 - )
Naomi Iizuka  ( 1965 - )
William Inge  ( 1913 - 1973 )
Erik Jensen  ( 1970 - )
George S. Kaufman  ( 1889 - 1961 )  

Moisés Kaufman  ( 1963 - )
Adrienne Kennedy  ( 1931 - )  
Joseph Kesselring  ( 1902 - 1967 )

Sidney Kingsley  ( 1906 - 1995 )  
Arthur Kopit  ( 1937 - )  
Greg Kotis  ( 1966 - )

Joseph Kramm  ( 1907 - 1991 )
Tony Kushner  ( 1956 - )
James Lapine  (  1949 - )

Jonathan Larson  ( 1961 - 1996 )
Arthur Laurents  (  1918 - 2011 )
Jerome Lawrence  ( 1915 - 2004 )  
Robert E. Lee  ( 1918 - 1994 )  
Warren Leight  ( 1957 - )
Howard Lindsay  ( 1889 - 1968 )  
Romulus Linney  ( 1930 - 2011 )  

Kenneth Lonergan  ( 1962 - )

Clare Boothe Luce  ( 1903 - 1987 )
Charles MacArthur  ( 1895 - 1956 )
Ann-Marie MacDonald  ( 1958 - )  Canada

Archibald MacLeish  ( 1892 - 1982 )
David Mamet  ( 1947 - )  
Donald Margulies  ( 1954 - )
Steve Martin  ( 1945 - )
Carson McCullers  ( 1917 - 1967 )
Terrence McNally  ( 1939 - )  

Karen Jones Meadows  ( 1953 - )
Mark Medoff  ( 1940 - )  

Edna St. Vincent Millay  ( 1892 - 1950 )
Arthur Miller  ( 1915 - 2005 )  
Jason Miller  ( 1939 - 2001 )
Marsha Norman  ( 1947 - )
Lynn Nottage  ( 1964 - )
Eugene O'Neill  ( 1888 - 1953 )  
Clifford Odets  ( 1906 - 1863 )  
Suzan-Lori Parks  ( 1963 - )

John Patrick  ( 1905 - 1995 )
Sharon Pollock  ( 1936 - )  Canada

Bernard Pomerance  ( 1940 - )
Dolores Prida  ( 1943 - 2013 )

David Rabe  ( 1940 - )
Heather Raffo  ( 1970 - )

Celeste Raspanti  ( 1928 - )
Theresa Rebeck  ( 1958 - )
Elmer Rice  (1892 - 1967 )  
Richard Rodgers  (1902 - 1979 )
Reginald Rose  (1920 - 2002 )
Paul Rudnick  ( 1957 - )
Howard Sackler  ( 1929 - 1982 )
Milcha Sanchez-Scott  (1953 - )  

William Saroyan  ( 1908 - 1981 )  
Dore Schary  ( 1905 - 1980 )
Robert Schenkkan  ( 1953 - )
Ntozake Shange  ( 1948 - )
John Patrick Shanley  (1950 - )

Claudia Shear  ( 1963 - )
Sam Shepard  ( 1943 - )  
Martin Sherman  (1938 - )
Robert E. Sherwood  ( 1896 - 1955 )  

Larry Shue  ( 1946 - 1985 )
Neil Simon  ( 1927 - )
Anna Deavere Smith  ( 1950 - )

Gary Soto  ( 1952 - )
Bella Spewack  ( 1899 - 1990 )  
Samuel Spewack  (1899 - 1971 )  

Joseph Stein  ( 1912 - 2010 )
Megan Terry  ( 1932 - )
Ernest Thompson  ( 1949 - )
Judith Thompson  ( 1954 - )  Canada
Sophie Treadwell  ( 1885 - 1970 )

Alfred Uhry  ( 1936? - )
Luis Valdez  ( 1940 - )

Gore Vidal  ( 1925 - 2012 )
Paula Vogel  ( 1951 - )
Joseph A. Walker  ( 1935 - 2003 )

Wendy Wasserstein  ( 1950 - 2006 )  

Eudora Welty  ( 1909 - 2001 )  
Hugh Wheeler  ( 1912 - 1987 )
Barbara Wiechmann  ( 1960 - )
Thornton Wilder  ( 1897 - 1975 )  
Tennessee Williams  ( 1911 - 1983 )  
August Wilson  (1945 - 2005 )  
Lanford Wilson  (1937 - 2011 )  

Doug Wright  ( 1962 - )

Paul Zindel  ( 1936 - 2003 )

Digital Theatre Plus

Find Plays in the WSA Library

Go to Universal Search in Follet Destiny to look up plays held by the WSA Library.

Edward Albee

Includes 'Finding the Sun' by Edward Albee:  Cordelia and Abigail, and their husbands Daniel and Benjamin, lovers before they married their wives, all meet on the beach where Gertrude and Henden--Daniel and Cordelia's parents by previous marriages--are titillated by the couples' situation, as well as by their speculation that Edmee and Fergus, a mother and son also visiting the beach, are lovers.

George L. Aiken

Includes 'Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly', by George L. Aiken, based on the book with the same title by Harriet Beecher Stowe, first published in 1852:  Uncle Tom's master sells him, separating him from his wife, and he becomes attached to the gentle daughter of his new owner, but after her death, he is sold to the evil Simon Legree.

Robert Auletta

Includes 'Stops' by Robert Auletta.

Amiri Baraka

Includes ''Jack Pot Melting: A Commercial'' by Amiri Baraka, a one-act play that examines the black experience in America.  A young man called Brother and a young woman called Sister are astonished to see how they are depicted on television. In contrast to their ordinary selves in an imperfect relationship, they are portrayed as a well-dressed, grinning young couple holding dogs named Fame and Fortune and mouthing vacuous phrases like ''I'm glad.''

Includes 'Dutchman' by Amiri Baraka:  An emotionally charged and highly symbolic version of the Adam and Eve story, wherein a naive bourgeois black man is murdered by an insane and calculating white seductress, who is coldly preparing for her next victim as the curtain comes down. The emotionally taut, intellectual verbal fencing between Clay (the black Adam) and Lula (a white Eve) spirals irrevocably to the symbolic act of violence that will apparently repeat itself over and over again. 

Mary Chase (Mary Coyle Chase)

Marc Connelly

Includes 'The Green Pastures' by Marc Connelly:  a reenactment of stories of the Old Testament in which all the characters (including God) are African American and speak in a black southern dialect. 

Russel Crouse

Includes 'Life With Father', by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, based on the autobiographical book with the same title by Clarence Day, Jr., published in 1920:  Day's comic stories of his father portray a rambunctious, overburdened Wall Street broker who demands that everything from his family should be just so. He is intolerant, tyrannical and plain obnoxious in his constant battle to harness the world to his way of thinking.

Christopher Durang

Includes 'Naomi in the Living Room' by Christopher Durang:  Naomi, when visited by John and Johnna, her son and daughter-in-law, is alternately friendly and insulting. Johnna copes her best, but when John changes his clothes to look like Johnna, things start to unravel. Naomi barely notices any differences but throws them both out of the house, then decides she's had a nice time! (1 man, 2 women.) 

Maria Irene Fornes

Includes 'Springtime' by Maria Irene Fornes, on of the four short plays in "What of the Night?," Fornes' epic drama on the individual's struggle with poverty, love, and sorrow.

Richard Greenberg

Includes 'Life Under Water' by Richard Greenberg:  In the present-day Hamptons, two attractive college girls, Amy-Joy and Amy-Beth, are looking for a good time, and think they have found it in the person of Kip, a handsome preppie who is in flight from the lavish home he shares with his divorced, and domineering mother and her narcissistic married lover. The play yields a lacerating portrait of a contemporary upper-middle-class that is, sadly and humorously, bored, self-indulgent and emotionally reckless.

John Guare

Includes 'Four Baboons Adoring the Sun' by John Guare:  Eros, the god of love, narrates the story of Penny and Philip, two archeologists who leave troubled marriages to find love amid the ruins in Sicily.

Moss Hart

Includes 'The Man Who Came to Dinner' by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman:  Sheridan Whiteside, having dined at the home of the Stanleys, slips on their doorstep, breaking his hip. A tumultuous six weeks of confinement follow. 

Ben Hecht

Includes 'The Front Page' by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur:  A comedy set in the news room. Hildy wants to break away from journalism and go on a belated honeymoon. There is a jailbreak and into Hildy's hands falls the escapee as hostage. He conceals his prize in a rolltop desk and phones his scoop to his managing editor. Their job is to prevent other reporters and the sheriff from opening the desk and finding their story.

Lillian Hellman

Includes 'The Little Foxes' by Lillian Hellman:  Brothers Oscar and Ben Hubbard steal money from their ailing brother-in-law in order to fund a cotton mill, only to be caught by their sister Regina who demands they give her a seventy-five percent share of the business in exchange for keeping them out of prison.

Beth Henley

Includes 'Am I Blue' by Beth Henley:  In 1968 New Orleans, a college freshman about to embark on his eighteenth-birthday gift--a visit to a bordello--instead accompanies a bold teenage girl back to her apartment and learns about her quirks and insecurities.

Sidney Howard

Includes 'They Knew What They Wanted', by Sidney Howard, Winner of the1925 Pulitzer Prize for Drama:  In the 1920's, Napa Valley middle-aged wine-grower Tony wants to get married and decides to propose by letter to a waitress in San Francisco named Amy who waited on him once. He sends her a picture of his good looking young farmhand Joe instead of himself, which creates unforeseen complications in the lives and loves of these three ordinary yet complex people. 

Tina Howe

Includes 'Teeth' by Tina Howe:  It's Bach's birthday. A neurotic woman has come to her dentist to have a filling replaced, but he's struggling with his own problems.

George S. Kaufman

Includes 'The Man Who Came to Dinner' by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman:  Sheridan Whiteside, having dined at the home of the Stanleys, slips on their doorstep, breaking his hip. A tumultuous six weeks of confinement follow. 

Adrienne Kennedy

Includes 'She Talks to Beethoven', by Adrienne Kennedy:  Set in Ghana, Suzanne waits in her room listening to radio broadcasts about her husband who has mysteriously disappeared while she attempts to write about and communicate with composer Ludwig van Beethoven.  Her world is infiltrated by snatches of Ghanaian string music, the revolutionary words of Frantz Fanon and strains of Beethoven's Fidelio. Suzanne, recovering from an unspecified illness hovers in displaced time and space fluctuating between Vienna, Austria, in 1803, and Accra, Ghana, in 1961.

Sidney Kingsley

Includes 'Dead End' by Sidney Kingsley:  A drama about life in New York City. Somewhere along the East River a raffish dead-end street meets the rear entrance to a fashionable apartment house where private yachts have a slip of their own.

Arthur Kopit

Jerome Lawrence

Robert E. Lee

Howard Lindsay

Includes 'Life With Father', by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, based on the autobiographical book with the same title by Clarence Day, Jr., published in 1920:  Day's comic stories of his father portray a rambunctious, overburdened Wall Street broker who demands that everything from his family should be just so. He is intolerant, tyrannical and plain obnoxious in his constant battle to harness the world to his way of thinking.

Romulus Linney

Includes 'Can Can' by Romulus Linney:  A poignant and telling fugue of overlapping soliloquies in which an ex-GI recalls his brief love affair with a French girl, while a Nashville housewife tells of the strange bond she feels for an older country woman.

David Mamet

Includes 'A Life With No Joy In It' by David Mamet:  A man and a woman relive the times when the joy in each of their lives died away.

Terrence McNally

Includes 'Prelude and Liebestod' by Terrence McNally:  A play about art and how it transforms us.  In Prelude and Liebstod, a renowned conductor watches his life unravel while conducting Wagner's musical masterpiece. 

Mark Medoff

Includes 'Children of a Lesser God' by Mark Medoff:  James Leeds, a speech therapist on the faculty of a school for the deaf, meets and marries Sarah, a young woman who has been totally deaf from birth, but even though they try to understand each other's needs and feelings, the gap between the worlds of sound and silence seems to grow ever larger.

Arthur Miller

Includes 'The Last Yankee' by Arthur Miller:  Two men whose wives are being treated in a mental hospital meet in a visitors' room. As their wives begin to recover, they set out to enlighten their husbands and transform their marriages.

Eugene O'Neill

Includes 'The Hairy Ape' by Eugene O'Neill:  the story of a brutish, unthinking laborer known as Yank, as he searches for a sense of belonging in a world controlled by the rich. 

Includes 'Ah, wilderness!' by Eugene O'Neill:  Taking place over the July Fourth weekend of 1906 in an idyllic Connecticut town, it offers a tender retrospective portrait of small town family values, teenage growing pains, and young love.

Clifford Odets

Both of these books include 'Waiting for Lefty' by Clifford Odets:   The play is set in the Depression era and deals with the cynical exploitation of the working classes.  The action of the play is made up of a series of varied, imaginatively conceived episodes on this theme.

Elmer Rice

Includes 'The Adding Machine' by Elmer Rice: Elmer Rice's 1923 play takes us through the murder, trial, execution, journey to the afterlife and back of Mr. Zero, an accountant who is replaced by a machine.

Milcha Sanchez-Scott

Includes 'The Cuban Swimmer'  byMilcha Sanchez-Scott:  A young woman endurance swimmer races from San Pedro to Catalina Island while her family follows her in a leaky boat. As they bicker and exhort her, she begins to weary and stray off course—until a spiritual and magical intervention reinvigorates her and she resolves to "dive into the Milky Way and wash my hands in the stars." 

William Saroyan

Includes 'The Time of Your Life' by William Saroyan:  Kitty Duvall wanders into Nick's Pacific Street Saloon Bar, a seedy establishment in Depression-era San Francisco, and finds herself pulled into the dramas of the other patrons' lives.

Sam Shepard

Includes excerpts from 'Slave to the Camera (an Actor's Notes)' by Sam Shepard.

Robert E. Sherwood

Includes 'The Petrified Forest' by Robert E. Sherwood:  Gabby Maple is a young girl who wants to see the world, but necessity compels her to work as a waitress in the middle of the Arizona desert. Out of the desert comes Alan Squier, a disillusioned sophisticate on his way to the Petrified Forest, which to him symbolizes self-destruction, the only answer he can find to living in a pointless world.

Bella and Samuel Spewack

Includes 'Boy Meets Girl' by Bella Spewack and Samuel Spewack:  Played against a Hollywood background, Boy Meets Girl tells of a studio waitress who, coming into the office of a big-shot producer, announces she is going to have a baby. Two clever writers get the idea of starring the as - yet - unborn infant with Larry Toms, cowboy film hero. 

Wendy Wasserstein

Includes 'Tender Offer' by Wendy Wasserstein:  Focuses on a distant father and his nine-year-old daughter. When he arrives late to pick her up from dance class, they discuss their lack of communication and why he missed her dance recital. 

Eudora Welty

Includes 'Bye-Bye, Brevoort' by Eudora Welty:  In this play a group of stodgy old relics fight to remain oblivious to the destruction of their beloved Brevoort hotel.

Thornton Wilder

Includes 'Our Town' by Thornton Wilder.

Tennessee Williams

Includes 'The Chalky White Substance' by Tennessee Williams:  Two haggard male figures meet at the edge of a vast canyon, overlooking a dried-out riverbed, in a future where the fallout from unnamed and uncountable nuclear wars continually floats through the air. It is the chalky white substance that covers the few inhabitants as they scramble in darkness and fear, fighting for the scarce, but indispensable, resources of water, food, shelter and human warmth.

Includes 'Cat On a Hot Tin Roof' by Tennessee Williams:  In a plantation house, a family celebrates the sixty-fifth birthday of Big Daddy, as they sentimentally dub him. The mood is somber, despite the festivities, because a number of evils poison the gaiety: greed, sins of the past and desperate, clawing hopes for the future spar with one another as the knowledge that Big Daddy is dying slowly makes the rounds.  Winner of the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

August Wilson

Includes 'Testimonies' by August Wilson.

Lanford Wilson

Includes 'The Moonshot Tape' by Lanford Wilson:  Having come home to visit her mother, who has been placed in a nursing home, Diane, now a well-known writer, is being interviewed for the local newspaper. Only she speaks. At first obliging and matter-of-fact, Diane gradually begins to reveal more than her questioner might have bargained for.

         

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