The Department Reading List

The following list of plays and books are highly recommended reading for each theatre arts major. They represent a sampling from most major playwrights and periods in dramatic literature, history, and theory. Some familiarity with most of these plays and authors will undoubtedly be helpful preparation for the senior comprehensive exam as well as standard general knowledge for future training/involvement in the field of theatre. (Many of these book are already required reading in our courses.)

Greek and Roman

Aeschylus – The Oresteian Trilogy (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Furies)
Aristophanes – Lysistrata
Euripides – The Bacchae, Medea
Menander – Dyskolos
Plautus – The Menaechmi
Sophocles – Oedipus the King, Antigone
Terence – The Brothers


Anonymous – The Second Shepherd’s Play
Anonymous – Everyman
Anonymous – Any play from the York cycle
Hrotsvit – Dulcitius

The Italian Renaissance

Machiavelli – The Mandrake

The English Renaissance

Jonson – Volpone
Marlowe – Dr. Faustus
Webster – The Duchess of Malfi
Shakespeare – Four major tragedies (King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello); Four major comedies( A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew); Four major histories (Julius Caesar, Henry IV part 1, Richard III, Henry V)

The French Renaissance

Racine – Phedre
Moliere – Tartuffe, The Misanthrope

The Spanish Golden Age

Calderon – Life is a Dream
Lope de Vega – Fuente Ovejuna

English Restoration and 18th Century

Behn – The Rover
Centlivre – The Busy Body
Congreve – Way of the World
Gay – The Beggar’s Opera
Goldsmith – She Stoops to Conquer
Sheridan – The Rivals or The School for Scandal
Wycherly – The Country Wife

German, French, and Italian 18th Century

Beaumarchais – The Marriage of Figaro or The Barber of Seville
Goldoni – The Servant of Two Masters
Gozzi – The King Stag
Lessing – Nathan the Wise

Romanticism/19th Century European

Hugo – Hernani
Buechner – Woyzeck

Pre-20th Century America

Belasco – The Girl of the Golden West
Brown – A Leap to Freedom
Daly – Under the Gaslight

The Modern Theatre (European)

Brecht – Good Person of Setzuan, Mother Courage, Galileo, or Caucasian Chalk Circle
Chekhov – The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull
Ibsen – Hedda Gabler, A Doll House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck
Lorca – House of Bernanda Alba or Blood Wedding
Pirandello – Six Characters in Search of an Author
Shaw – Miss Warrens’ Profession, Saint Joan
Strindberg – Miss Julie, A Dream Play
Synge – Playboy of the Western World
Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest

The Modern Theatre (American)

Albee – The Zoo Story, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Glaspell – Trifles
Grimké – Rachel
Hansberry – Raisin in the Sun
Hughes – Emperor of Haiti
Miller – Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, or View from the Bridge
Odets – Waiting for Lefty
O’Neill – Long Day’s Journey, The Iceman Cometh
Robins – Vote for Women!
Treadwell – Machinal
Wilder – Our Town
Williams – The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire

Post-Modernism/Contemporary Theatre

Baraka – Dutchman
Beckett – Waiting for Godot, Endgame
Churchill – Cloud Nine, Top Girls
Fornes – Fefu and Her Friends, The Conduct of Life
Fugard – Master Harold and the Boys or Sizwe Bansi is Dead
Genet – The Balcony
Gordone – No Place to be Somebody
Gotanda – The Wash
Hwang – M. Butterfly
Ionesco – The Bald Soprano, The Lesson
Kennedy – Funnyhouse of a Negro
Kramer – The Normal Heart
Kushner – Angels in America, Part One
Mamet – American Buffalo or Glengarry Glen Ross
Moraga – Giving up the Ghost
McNally – Love! Valor! Compassion!
Osborne – Look Back in Anger
Parks – The America Play, Topdog/ Underdog
Pinter – The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, Old Times
Rivera – Marisol
Sartre – No Exit
Shange – For Colored Girls… or Spell #7
Shepard – Buried Child or Tooth of Crime
Soyinka – Death and the King’s Horsemen
Stoppard – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Arcadia
Valdez – Stinking Badges or Los Vendidos
Vogel – How I Learned to Drive
Wilson, A. – Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Fences, or Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Wilson, L. – Fifth of July, Talley’s Folly
Yamauchi – And the Soul Shall Dance

Classical Asian Theatre

Bhasa – The Vision of Vasavadatta
Chikamatsu – The Love Suicides at Sonezaki or The Love Suicides at Amijima
Narukami or another Kabuki play
The Little Clay Cart (The Toy Cart)
The West Chamber
Matsukaze or Atsumori


Aronson – American Set Design
Burian – The Scenography of Joseph Svoboda
Corson – Stage Makeup
Craig – Scene, On the Art of the Theatre
Gillette – Designing with Light, Theatrical Design and Production
Gorelik – New Theatres for Old
Hainaux – Stage Design Since…(50’s, 60’s 70’s)
Henderson – Mielziner: Master of Modern Stage Design
Ingram/Covery – The Costumer’s Handbook
Jones – The Dramatic Imagination
Larson – Scene Design for American Theatre from 1915-1960
Laver – Costume in the Theatre
Leacroft – Theatre and Playhouse
Mielziner – Designing for the Theatre
Millian – The Development of the Playhouse
Oenslager – Stage Design
Payne – History of Costume
Pecktal – Designing and Painting for the Theatre, Designing and Drawing for the Theatre, Costume Design: Techniques of Modern Masters 1
Pillbrow – Stage Design: The Art, the Craft, the Life
Rosenthal – The Magic of Light
Russell – Stage Costume Design, Period Style for the Theatre
Simonson – The Stage is Set
Taymor – Playing with Fire
Warfel – The New Handbook of Stage Lighting Graphics
Watson – Lighting Design Handbook


Adler – Technique of Acting
Benedetti – The Actor at Work
Berry – The Actor and the Text
Bogart – Viewpoints
Bruder – The Practical Handbook of the Actor
Chekhov – To the Actor
Crawford – Acting in Person and in Style
Delgado – Acting with Both Sides of the Brain
Gronbeck – Acting Through Exercises
Hagen – Respect for Acting
Halpern – Truth in Comedy
Harrop/Epstein – Acting with Style
Hull – Strasberg’s Method
Johnstone – Impro
Lewis – Advice to the Players
Linklater – Freeing the Natural Voice, Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice
Mamet – True and False
May – The Courage to Create
Meisner – On Acting
Moore – The Stanislavsky System
Morris – No Acting Please
Poggi – The Monologue Workshop
Sher – Year of the King
Shurtleff – Audition
Skinner – Speak with Distinction
Spolin – Improvisation for Theatre
Stanislavsky – An Actor Prepares, Building a Character, Creating a Role
Suzuki – The Way of Acting

Theatre History

Arnott – Public Performance in Greek Theatre
Artaud – The Theatre and Its Double
Baldry – The Greek Tragic Theatre
Brandon – Studies in Kabuki
Brockett – History of the Theatre
Brustein – The Theatre of Revolt
Case – Feminism and Theatre
Chute – Shakespeare of London
Driver – Romantic Quest and Modern Query
Esslin – The Theatre of the Absurd, Brecht: The Man and his Work
Grotowski – Toward a Poor Theatre
Harris – Medieval Theatre in Context
Hill – The Theatre of Black Americans
Keene – No and Bunraku
Mackerras – Chinese Theatre
Pavis – The Intercultural Performance Reader
Richmond – Indian Theatre
Roose-Evans – Experimental Theatre
Rudlin – Commedia Dell’ Arte: An Actor’s Handbook
Styan – Restoration Comedy in Performance
Vardac – From Stage to Screen
Watson and McKernie – A Cultural History of the Theatre
Willet – Brecht on Theatre


Bartow – The Director’s Voice
Ball, D. – Backwards and Forwards
Ball, W. – A Sense of Direction
Bogart – Viewpoints, A Director Prepares
Braun – Directing: Arts, Ethics, Creativity
Brook – Empty Space
Clurman – On Directing
Cohen – Creative Play Direction
Cole, S. – Directors in Rehearsal
Cole, T. – Directors on Directing
Delgado and Heritage – In Contact with the Gods: Directors Talk
Donkin and Clement – Upstaging the Big Daddy: Directing as if Race and Gender Matter
Harrop/Epstein – Acting with Style
Jones – Great Directors at Work
Manful – In Other Words: Women Directors Speak
Shapiro – The Director’s Handbook


Ball – Backwards and Forwards
Castagno – New Playwriting Strategies
Catron – Elements of Playwriting
Cohen – Working on a New Play
Cole – Playwriting in Rehearsal
Downs and Wright – Playwriting from Formula to Form
Egri – The Art of Dramatic Writing
Garrison – Perfect 10, The Playwright’s Survival Guide
Savran – In Their Own Words: Interview with Cont. American Playwrights, The Playwright’s Voice
Singer – Stage Writer’s Handbook
Smiley – The Structure of Action
Sweet – The Dramatist’s Toolkit, Solving Your Script
Van-Itallie – The Playwright’s Workbook
Wright – Playwriting in Process, Playwriting Master Class
Wright and Pyland – The Student’s Guide to Playwriting Opportunities