The books in the seventh Well-Read Man Project set are all plays: three tragedies, one comedy, and one legend. One thing that was typical among plays in the candidate list was that they relied on timelines that happened earlier in history from the dates of their initial viewing. Four of the five plays in the final list exhibit this facet. For example, The Crucible recounts events that took place hundreds of years before Arthur Miller wrote the play. But in all cases, the underlying story speaks to the current audience and culture, which is what makes them great plays.
When looking at the entire candidate list for the project, there was a clear trend over time for fewer and fewer plays. The majority of plays were from Greek and Roman days, or from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Perhaps it is a reflection of increased literacy among the general population, where those who read great ideas in books no longer need those same ideas communicated on the stage. Whatever the reason, the selections listed below cover a wide swath of human chronology. Here they are, in the order in which they were first performed. (Click on a play to access its detail page.)
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
by William Shakespeare
by Friedrich von Schiller
by Arthur Miller
Because plays are meant to be experienced through performance rather than just through reading, I plan to watch a recorded performance of each play after my initial pass through the printed manuscript. This will hopefully provide additional insights into the content that I might have missed without stage direction.