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

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…

Updated: 28 September 2020 

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 (Formerly Kate Tempest)

#106 Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.in – 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 

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:

Conclusion

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 young professional actors and writers from around the world. This team includes Andrew Hearle, Luke McMahon, Indiana Kwong, Patrick Cullen and many more. We all work together to contribute useful articles and resources for actors at all stages in their careers.

About the Author

StageMilk Team

is made up of young professional actors and writers from around the world. This team includes Andrew Hearle, Luke McMahon, Indiana Kwong, Patrick Cullen and many more. We all work together to contribute useful articles and resources for actors at all stages in their careers.

One response to “The Best Plays of All Time”

  1. Avatar Roberto says:

    Thank you

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