Open Forum

Comedies for class

  • 1.  Comedies for class

    Posted 06-12-2019 15:28
    I read a play with my advanced acting class every quarter.  We study themes, character, style, design, etc. In the past, we've read things like Oedipus, Doll's House, Macbeth, Tartuffe, Our Town, Long Day's Journey, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Everyman, A lot of the kids in this class are also AP students, so they are able to use these in their AP exams.  However, I'm starting to get tired of teaching classic dramas and want to start mixing in contemporary and comedy plays.
    All that to say, what are your best suggestions for plays either in the contemporary or comedic genre that are worthy of an in depth classroom study?

    Annie Rice
    Spring Hill TN

  • 2.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-12-2019 15:36
    Anything by Neil Simon! I love Rumors, The Prisoner of 2nd Ave., and The Odd Couple - just to name a few. Have fun!

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 3.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-13-2019 06:44
    I agree with the Neil Simon suggestion. Also, how about the American classic comedy, You Can't Take It With You. So much fun! Let us know what you decide on.

    Garry Tiller
    Theatre Arts Teaching Artist
    Sidwell Friends
    Washington, DC

  • 4.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-13-2019 08:37
    If you are looking for contemporary plays, I suggest integrating the works written in the last 10-15 years by women and playwrights of color. Let's shift the narrative a bit! Lauren Gunderson has some awesome pieces about women in science (Silent Sky, Ada and the Engine) as well as some other pieces (The Revolutionists, I and You).   I always find Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice to be a great piece to work on with high school students. The works of  Lynn Nottage would also work well for an in-depth classroom study. That is just off the top of my head, but a quick survey of some regional theatres' upcoming seasons would also be a great source.

    Elana Kepner
    Theatre Instructor
    The Oakwood School
    Greenville NC

  • 5.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-13-2019 10:21
    This is a list of great comedies I compiled several years ago. I hope it helps.

    • Lysistrata
    • The Miser
    • Tartuffe
    Carlo Goldoni:
    • Servant of Two Masters
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    • As You Like It
    • Twelfth Night
    • Much Ado About Nothing
    • The Tempest
    • The Barber of Seville
    • The Marriage of Figaro
    Georges Feydeau
    • A Flea in Her Ear
    GB Shaw
    • Arms and the Man
    Noel Coward
    • Private Lives
    • Blithe Spirit
    Oscar Wilde
    • The Importance of Being Ernest
    • Lady Windermere's Fan
    Eugene O'Neill
    • Ah! Wilderness
    Anton Chekov (human comedy)
    • The Seagull
    • Three Sisters
    • Uncle Vanya
    Kaufman & Hart
    • You Can't Take It with You (Pulitzer Prize)
    • The Man who Came to Dinner
    Mary Chase
    • Harvey (Pulitzer Prize)
    Thornton Wilder
    • Our Town (Pulitzer Prize)
    • The Skin of Our Teeth (Pulitzer Prize)
    • The Matchmaker
    Neil Simon
    • Barefoot in the Park
    • The Odd Couple
    • Lost in Yonkers (Pulitzer Prize)
    Larry Shue
    • The Nerd
    • The Foreigner
    Ken Ludwig
    • Lend Me a Tenor
    • Moon Over Buffalo

    James Van Leishout
    Olympia WA

  • 6.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-13-2019 14:14

    We study a contemporary work each year.  My criteria is that it has to have been nominated for a major award in the last 3 years - Tony, Pulitzer, and Olivier are the ones I generally look at.  In the past few years we've read Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, Peter and Alice by John Logan, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens, Sweat by Lynn Nottage and Farinelli and the King by Claire van Kampen.   For next year, I am looking at Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Cost of Living by Martyna Majok, Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney, What The Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck and Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo.  I will probably rule out the last 2 because I'm not sure they'd be great for class study since they are one person plays.

    For other options, think about bringing some August Wilson into the mix, or Lorraine Hansberry.  I would love to teach A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park back to back.

    Laura Steenson
    Theatre Director
    Reynolds High School
    Troutdale OR

  • 7.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-13-2019 15:58
    After looking at some of the literature my older students read in their English classes, I have no problem having them read the following:

    Clybourne Park
    Angels in America
    The Beauty Queen of Leenane

    Best wishes!

  • 8.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-14-2019 09:17
    I teach a College Scene Study class (it is a class for 11th and 12th grade theater students for which they receive college credit) . Although these are not comedies, the following plays are contemporary and have been met with great success in my class: The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry for the sole purpose of then immediately teaching Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris (stories overlap), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Simon Stephens, Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.

    Angela McLaughlin
    Theater Arts teacher
    Garden City HS
    Garden City, NY

  • 9.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-14-2019 17:54
    I left some off my list.

     George Etherege
    • The Man of Mode or, Sir Fopling Flutter 
    Aphra Behn: The first English women to earn her living as playwright, poet, and author.
    • The Rover or The Banish'd Cavaliers (two parts)
    William Wycherley
    • The Country Wife 
    • The Plain Dealer 
    William Congreve
    • The Way of the World 
    Oliver Goldsmith
    • She Stoops to Conquer
    Richard Brinsley Sheridan
    • The Rivals 
    • The School for Scandal

    James Van Leishout
    Olympia WA

  • 10.  RE: Comedies for class

    Posted 06-18-2019 13:38
    There are lots of fantastic ideas here, and I've had great success with a bunch already mentioned.

    A few more to consider if mature language and themes are okay and you're looking to include more works from women and people of color:
    -Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea by Nathan Alan Davis
    -Cost of Living by Martyna Majok
    -Eclipsed by Danai Gurira (some of the kids will know the playwright as an actor from The Walking Dead or Black Panther)
    -Fires in the Mirror or Twilight: Los Angeles by Anna Deveare Smith (these are not from the last 10-15 years, but give the kids a lot to discuss)
    -Woza, Albert! by Percy Mtwa and Nbogemi Ngema (Again, not as contemporary, but written for the Market Theatre in South Africa, and has a lot of interesting elements in terms of production, style, purpose of performance, etc.)

    Meg O'Connor