Best Plays of All Time | 110 Stage Plays All Actors Must Read

The Best Plays of All Time

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After a lot of discussions and heated debate, we have agreed on our list of best plays of all time. Of course to make a list of the 110 best plays of all time is a difficult challenge. A play is subjective and offers each reader, or theatregoer, a very different experience. Plays are also so open to interpretation and many different readings, and what means little to you at one stage in your life may be profound later on in life. This was the case for me with Shakespeare. What started as a jumble of nonsense words over the years grew into a source of infinite joy and insight for me as an actor, and a human.

Updated Feb 3, 2024 

The goal of this list is not to set a definitive order of best plays, but to give passionate actors and theatre lovers a resource which we hope will encourage you to read more plays! I believe all actors should aim to read all the plays listed here. I am a big fan of the IMDB top 250 films and have over the years tried to chip through that list, I encourage you to make that your goal with this comprehensive list.

We tried to consider plays from throughout history, as well as look at plays of various styles and genres. Aspects such as craftsmanship, popularity, story structure, contribution to theatre and many other factors were all considered. You may also be interested in the best modern plays.

If you fervently disagree with this list, or any particular play included here, please let us know – we love a good debate. But without further ado here is our list of best plays of all time…

The Top 10 Best Plays of All Time

Must Read Stage Plays for Actors (11-110)

#11 A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry

#12 Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

#13 Angels in America – Tony Kushner

#14 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Edward Albee 

#15 Sweat – Lynn Nottage

#16 Fences – August Wilson

#17 Top Girls – Caryl Churchill

#18 The Seagull – Anton Chekhov

#19 Look Back in Anger – John Osborne

#20 Woyzeck – Georg Buchner

#21 Oedipus Rex Sophocles

#22 King Lear – William Shakespeare

#23 Volpone – Ben Jonson

#24 Blood Wedding – Federico García Lorca

#25 Tartuffe – Moliere

#26 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Tom Stoppard

#27 Hedda Gabler – Henrik Ibsen

#28 Machinal – Sophie Treadwell

#29 Crave – Sarah Kane

#30 The Country Wife – William Wycherley

#31 Miss JulieAugust Strindberg

#32 The Caretaker – Harold Pinter

#33 Travesties and Arcadia – Tom Stoppard

#34 The Glass Menagerie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Tennessee Williams

#35 Pygmalion – Bernard Shaw

#36 Faust – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

#37 The Rover – Aphra Behn

#38 Uncle Vanya – Anton Chekhov

#39 Our Town – Thornton Wilder

#40 Red – John Logan

#41 God of Carnage – Yasmina Reza

#42 All My SonsArthur Miller

#43 OthelloWilliam Shakespeare

#44 The Homecoming – Harold Pinter

#45 Private Lives – Noel Coward

#46 Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare 

#47 Betrayal – Harold Pinter

#48 A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare

#49 This is Our Youth – Kenneth Lonergan

#50 Cyrano De Bergerac – Edmond Rostand

#51 Topdog/Underdog – Suzan-Lori Parks

#52 The Effect – Lucy Prebble

#53 Mother Courage and Her Children – Bertolt Brecht

#54 Stuff Happens – David Hare

#55 Cloud Nine – Caryl Churchill

#56 The Vortex – Noel Coward

#57 The Aliens – Annie Baker

#58 The Humans – Stephan Karam

#59 Arcadia – Tom Stoppard

#60 The Government Inspector – Nikolai Gogol

#61 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Tennessee Williams

#62 Tambularine – Christopher Marlowe

#63 Glengarry Glenross – David Mamet

#64 The History Boys – Alan Bennett

#65 A View from the Bridge – Arthur Miller

#66 The Iceman Cometh – Eugene O’Neill

#67 Brighton Beach Memoirs – Neil Simon

#68 Endgame – Samuel Beckett

#69 The Bald Soprano – Eugène Ionesco

#70 Blasted – Sarah Kane

#71 Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlowe

#72 Saint Joan – George Bernard Shaw

#73 The Pillowman – Martin McDonagh

#74 Equus – Peter Shaffer

#75 The Life of Galileo – Bertolt Brecht

#76 Noises Off – Michael Frayn

#77 The Balcony – Jean Genet

#78 True West – Sam Shepard

#79 Doubt – John Patrick Shanley

#80 August: Osage County – Tracy Letts

#81 Ruined – By Lynn Nottage

#82 Jerusalem – By Jez Butterworth

#83 Clybourne Park
– By Bruce Norris

#84 Amadeus – Peter Shaffer

#85 No Exit – Jean-Paul Satre

#86 The Trial – Steven Berkoff’

#87 Edward II – Christopher Marlowe

#88 In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) – Sarah Ruhl

#89 Arms and the Man – George Bernard Shaw

#90 Six Characters in Search of an Author – Luigi Pirandello

#91 Savages – John Patrick Shanley

#92 Proof – David Auburn

#93 The Wolves – Sarah DeLappe

#94 Chimerica – Lucy Kirkwood

#95 4000 miles – Amy Herzog

#96 Ruined – Lynn Nottage

#97 Spike Heels – Theresa Rebeck 

#98 The Lieutenant of Inishmore – Martin McDonagh

#99 This Wide Night – Chloe Moss

#100 Plenty – David Hare

#101 Wit – Margaret Edson

#102 The MiserMoliere

#103 City of Gold – Meyne Wyatt

#104 American Buffalo – David Mamet

#105 Wasted – Kae Tempest 

#106 Revolt. She Said. Revolt – Alice Birch

#107 Switzerland – Joanna Murray-Smith

#108 Harp in The South – Kate Mulvany

#109 The Persians – Aeschylus 

#110 The Servant of Two Masters – Carlo Goldoni 

Notable Mentions

The Seed – Kate Mulvany
Skylight – David Hare
School for Scandal – Richard B. Sheridan
Orphans – Dennis Kelly
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – August Wilson
Old Times – Harold Pinter
Punk Rock – Simon Stephens

Why you need to read plays…

So there you go – 110 of the best plays ever written for the stage. As I mentioned in my introduction this is a subjective list, written simply to inspire you all to read more plays! Reading plays should be a big part of your work as an actor. You get better at understanding dialogue, subtext, character, and it also helps you understand tone and genre. Being in a Chekhov play is very different from a Goldoni or a Lucy Prebble.

In an interview we did with a great theatre maker Andrew Henry, he advised actors to read 8 plays a week! Now that is quite a feat, but an admirable goal, here is the video:


Most of the plays listed here are easily accessible. You can go to a local bookshop or even an op shop is likely to have a few classics. Some of these plays will be a slog, notably Shakespeare, Brecht and Beckett – especially if you are new to reading plays. But I promise you if you persevere, reading plays will become a great source of knowledge and joy. Also, remember that reading plays is great, but they are meant to be performed. Try to get along to the theatre as much as possible. And if you ever see any of these titles showing at your local theatre, get along!

About the Author

StageMilk Team

is made up of professional actors, acting coaches and writers from around the world. This team includes Andrew, Alex, Emma, Jake, Jake, Indiana, Patrick and more. We all work together to contribute useful articles and resources for actors at all stages in their careers.

9 responses to “The Best Plays of All Time”

  1. Avatar Roberto says:

    Thank you

  2. Avatar Simon Furness says:

    Thanks Andrew and team, you always lift inspire and encourage. Keep on keeping on…

  3. Avatar Nicole says:

    Excuse me, but you are missing out some important ones in your list ;)))

    How about:

    Inherit The Wind
    Twelve Angry Men
    Dial M For Murder
    The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot
    The Lehman Trilogy

  4. Avatar Prithwijit Chowdhury says:

    Great job done by compiling this list of 110 plays.
    Thank you

  5. Avatar Brian Vacek says:

    #81 and #96 (Ruined) appear to be duplicates. Is that a typo?

  6. Avatar Brian Vacek says:

    I think Savages is by Christopher Hampton, not John Patrick Shanley, unless you mean the latter’s Savage in Limbo.

  7. Avatar Raj says:

    I want to know acting techniques in detail with examples

  8. Avatar ratnesh mishra says:

    all plays are fantastic…thanku so much to provide this.

  9. Avatar ratnesh mishra says:

    hi i read your some of plays..iys too good for me to know better the characters….thanks alot.
    lots of love.

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