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7/2/2023        From the Bookshelf:   More Plays, More Suggestions, More Hours Spent in Rapture




So, the next batch of DPS Book Club scripts won’t be shipped until August.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty to read!  Since my Manhattan trip next week will no doubt involve sprees at the Drama Book Shop and the Strand Book Store, I thought it would be a great time to “catch up” on some of the booty from prior visits.  That being said, since I’m the actual curator of this group, I guess that means I have to include one of my own feeble playwrighting efforts.  Since (almost) every script I’ve written across the decades seem to have vanished traceless (including a pretentiously Iambic play about Margaret of Anjou, a “valentine” to Non-Professional Theatre (and an early take on gender roles and stereotypes), and a foray into Viet Nam PTSD, any effort to share them would involve complete rewrites.  But I DO still have a Commedia adaptation of Taming of the Shrew that I could share.  More on that below.


But now, let’s talk scripts!





By Tracy Letts

Published by Samuel French


Originally Produced by Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago) June 2016


Mary Page Marlowe is an unexceptional woman living an unexceptional life.  But in Tracy Letts’ accomplished play, we see her though the lens of five different actors at five different ages (six if you count the onstage infant for 10-month-old Mary).  Each scene is arranged in non-linear chronology, so we see moments explained by “earlier” scenes later  and lies revealed long after we witness them.  In the final analysis, Letts’ thesis seems to be that even unexceptional lives have a lot to offer, a lot to affect us, a lot to celebrate.





By Lynn Nottage

Published by Dramatists Play Service


Originally Produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival July 2015

Produced by the Public Theatre, New York, November 2016

Produced by Woodstock Arts, Woodstock GA, March 2022


Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama


Perhaps the most recognizable title in this group, Sweat looks at the Reading PA working class, specifically blue-collar workers at a local plant affected by the 2008 recession and the outsourcing of local manufacturing to Mexico.  Mostly set in a Reading bar, it shows the divisive effects of race, class, gender, and opportunity, culminating in an act of violence that echoes into the future.  Sharp characters, stinging dialogue, and rampant frustration ooze from the pages, and I regret missing the Woodstock Arts production.   (An Alliance Theatre production scheduled for 2000 was regrettably “laid off” due to the pandemic.)





By Danai Guria

Published by Samuel French


Originally Produced by the Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven CT  February 2016


After the intensity of Eclipsed and In the Continuum, it was a pleasure to read a domestic family comedy from Ms. Guria.  Not that she doesn’t make serious commentary here on the nature of cultural identity and immigration and the demands of family!  An American-Zimbabwean family in Minnesota is about to celebrate the wedding of their favorite daughter to a white American.  Into their home comes Auntie Anne who insists the groom-to-be must follow the Zimbabwean custom of bartering for the bride.  The groom is willing, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some culture-shock along the way.  A laugh-out-lead reading experience that would be a crowd pleaser on any area stage!  Be sure to hire an Intimacy Director for this one though ….





By Moira Buffini

Published by Dramatists Play Service


Originally Produced by Soho Theatre London  May 1997

Produced by the Atlantic Theatre Co New York City May 2010


In a little-known detail from WWII history, the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel was occupied by the Germans between 1940 and 1945.  Local widow Jeanne Becquet has had her estate appropriated by the Nazi commander, and now shares a run-down shack with her Jewish daughter-in-law and her 10-year-old daughter.  When a man with no memory and no identification is found on the beach, it becomes apparent that he could be either an RAF pilot recently shot down, or an SS Officer enroute to Eastern Europe whose transport was sunk just offshore. The man, called Gabriel for … well, reasons …, is fluent in both German and English as was both the RAF pilot and the SS Officer.  This is a gripping thriller that explodes off the page while revealing a little-known chapter of British history.





By Steven Dietz

Published by Dramatists Play Service


Originally Produced by the ACT Theatre Seattle WA   September 2015


Caithleen is a young Irish woman working as a Bloomsday guide in Dublin.  Robbie is an American tourist who knows nothing about Joyce or Ulysses.  Cait is the woman Caithleen becomes in 35 years.  Robert is the older man Robbie becomes.  Both are obsessed with that one day in Dublin 35 years earlier and the what-could-have-beens if they had made different choices.  This is my favorite of these scripts, simply because of the music of the dialogue, the attention to Joycean allusions, the specificity of the characters (both old and young), the profound uprooting of sequence and time and cause-and-effect, and the profound regret that imbues each and every scene.  It left me in tears.   Aris?  This would be perfect for you for a Bloomsday alternative to Ulysses readings!





By Lauren Gunderson

Published by Dramatists Play Service


Originally Produced by the San Francisco Playhouse  March 2014


Another entry in Ms. Gunderson’s outstanding oeuvre.  This one looks at 20th-century artist Rudolph Bauer, who, after the Guggenheim museum “bought” his entire output, refused to pick up his brush again.  A stark examination of the links between art and commerce, between history and aesthetics, between love and outrage, this three-hander is a welcome addition to plays about artists (e.g. John Logan’s Red) and what inspires (and defeats) them. It is proof positive that Lauren Gunderson is a theatrical treasure!





By William Shakespeare, adapted by Anonymous

Published in My Dreams


Originally Produced by the Square Globe Theatre, Marietta GA  Spring 2000


A Commedia Dell-Arte troupe is in this theatre now, preparing to perform Harlequin in Atlanta.  But Zanni has spiked Harlequin’s cider, and, well, Harlequin is quickly incapacitated.  The ever-resourceful Pedrolino pulls out scripts for Shakespeare’s Shrew, and the troupe adapts with their own spin on the story.  In this case, Petruchio and Katherine are evenly matched and in lust at first sight.  Petruchio experiences everything he “inflicts” on Katherine, and we see two characters who are perfectly suited.   Call me!  I’ll send a reading copy!




I hope you get a chance to check out any (or all) of these plays and hope you find them as satisfying to read as I did.  Better yet, I hope they create a desire to see them live on stage!


In the meantime, here is a link to set up your own subscription to the DPS Book Club, which will have another shipment for me in August.  I, for one, can’t wait:



    --  Brad Rudy  (    #ScriptsAreMyJam )

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