6 Plays I Read During the Summer


Kindertransport

by Diane Samuels

  • WWII, Germany, England - heavy and rich historical context
  • Female dominant script
  • "Kinders"- children who were rescued and transferred into foster families around the globe so that they became safe.  But this also means that they would probably be separated from their birth families for the rest of their lives, and very few realized that when they were sent away.
  • High emotional intensity throughout the play.  It does not come down.  The last 10 pages made me sob really really hard.
  • Intertwined timelines - creative, intriguing, and efficient story-telling.  Gives the director a lot of freedom to play with.
  • Deep exploration in mother-daughter relationship -
    (Helga is Eva's birth mother in Germany.  Eva changes her name into Evelyn after joining her foster mother, Lil, in England.  Now Evelyn is in her forties or fifties, dealing with her own daughter, Faith.)
    Helga to Eva: "Look, you can do it.  You have to do it on your own.  You don't need me."
    Evelyn to Lil: "Where's my mom?  Is she coming?"
    Lil to Evelyn: "It's only two of us now!  I took you into my home for nothing and you need to trust me."
    Faith to Evelyn: "Why are you hiding your past?  What good does it do?"
    Evelyn to Faith: "I feel like I've kept you for too long.  You should be on your own if you want to.  I want you to."
    Evelyn to Helga: "Has it ever come to you that I wanted to die with you?  That I didn't want to live without you?"
  • Evelyn was hiding her past -
    She thinks that removing those experiences from her memory is the best way to keep herself peaceful.  But memories like this are very hard to disappear.
    Faith hurts Evelyn with fierce words because she thinks her mother is not open with her.
    At last Evelyn tells her daughter about it.  However, experiences like this takes a full life to settle, or maybe they cannot be settled anyhow.
  • Separation, Adaptation, and Connection

Broken Glass

by Arthur Miller



Brighton Beach Memoirs

by Neil Simon

  • 1930s, Brooklyn
  • Dramatic comedy - witty humor woven into the entire play, but there are intense conflicts as well
  • Insightful themes on life -
    Rough financial situation to hold the family together
    And unrealistic pursuit of dancing because of that
    Dead husband and Self-pity
    Living under someone else's roof
    Puberty and the natural curiosity to the opposite sex
    Giving everything to your sibling while going through the bitterness yourself
    ...
  • Lively, touching portrait of family relationships -
    Father & Son, Mother & Daughter
    Brother & Brother, Sister & Sister, Cousins
    And they are all tied together tightly
  • I felt moved and empowered when Nora said she is jealous because Laurie was born sick, and Blanche said "I am tired of apologizing!"  I was also deeply moved when Stanley told Eugene about his brother and their great relationship.
  • All characters genuinely love and care about the others under this roof, which is the base of all the stories happened
  • Although it is set in almost 100 years ago, many things in the play are beyond "relatable," they are just so true.

PUSH

by George Cameron Grant


Sundown, Yellow Moon

by Rachel Bonds


The Children's Hour

by Lillian Hellman

  • 1930s, Massachusetts
  • Female dominant script
  • RAW feelings.  Raw and intense, almost terrifying.
    If I want to sigh and take a long walk after reading "Kindertransport," I want to swear after reading this play.
  • The power of rumors/made-up scandals - It creates damages that can never recover.
  • Lesbian scandal - How bad it was to be gay or lesbian decades ago...
  • Mary's evilness - Young kids can be so evil, but we usually ignore this fact and only believe in their innocence
  • Martha's self-realization at the end - she realizes that she loves Karen in a romantic way - maybe it is true, maybe she is just misled by others' words - but it is so hard to accept that she kills herself right after this
  • Mrs. Tilford's apology - she's the one who spreads the scandal at first, and much later she wants to help.  She believes that whether Mary's words are true she needs to tell the parents.  At the end, helping is something she says to feel better for her own sake, but cannot help Karen at that point
  • The playwright really dug deep into humanity and exposed some sides of us that we don't usually recognize.
  • It is a HEART-HITTING play.

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