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Plays and Playwrights from Around the World
Our new selection of featured content showcases playwrights from five continents, many of whom are both nationally and internationally renowned. Their plays range over topics including: family and intergenerational conflict; living in a multi-faith society; the experiences of indigenous people and settlers; the impact of war; imprisonment and escape; and more.
Discover thought-provoking plays from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America below.
After Independence by May Sumbwanyambe
Guy and Kathleen grow their crops, raise their daughter, and pay their taxes. But Africa is changing, country by country. White farmers in Zimbabwe must now answer for history's crimes. When Charles arrives with a smile and a purchase order, there's more than just land at stake. With violence threatening to erupt, he will do whatever it takes to restore their farm to the 'native' population.
Inspired by real events in Zimbabwe, May Sumbwanyambe's debut play is an unflinching examination of land ownership, dispossession and justice in a post-colonial world.
Reoca Light by Ashwin Singh
Reoca Light is a tribute to the art of traditional storytelling. It traces the history of a family who had first arrived in South Africa as indentured labourers having relocated from India. The great, great grandfather had dreamed of having a convenience store, a dream which is finally realized by the fourth generation of the original settlers. It is a moving story of unsung heroes and community values and has at its core a sensual nature and spiritual depth.
Read the playtext from the collection Durban Dialogues, Indian Voice.
The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary South African Theatre
edited by Martin Middeke, Peter Paul Schnierer and Greg Homann
South Africa has a uniquely rich and diverse theatre tradition which has responded energetically to the country's remarkable transition, helping to define the challenges and contradictions of this young democracy. Written by a team of over 20 leading international scholars, this volume considers the variety of theatre forms, and the work of the major playwrights and theatre makers producing work in democratic South Africa.
Gao Xingjian’s Post-Exile Plays by Mary Mazzilli
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, Gao Xingjian is the first Chinese writer to be so lauded for his prose and plays. Since relocating to France in 1987, in a voluntary exile from China, he has assembled a body of dramatic work that has best been understood neither as expressly Chinese nor French, but as transnational.
In this comprehensive study of his post-exile plays, Mary Mazzilli explores Gao's plays as examples of postdramatic transnationalism: a transnational artistic and theatrical trend that is fluid, flexible and encompasses a variety of styles and influences.
Nadirah by Alfian Sa'at
Nadirah is the popular and articulate Vice-President of her university’s Muslim Society. She convenes inter-faith meetings where students talk about how they should respect one another’s spaces. She is also the product of a mixed marriage, her father a Malaysian Malay and her mother a Singaporean Chinese who has converted to Islam. One day, Nadirah’s mother tells her that she’s going to marry a man who’s not Muslim.
How does Nadirah make peace between various religions in school when she’s having the same problems at home? Can mother and daughter worship different gods? Will love or faith prevail?
Read the playtext from the collection Southeast Asian Plays.
When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell
This is a play about family, betrayal and forgiveness, spanning four generations and two hemispheres. It begins in Australia in 2039 and the action moves backwards and forwards across several different locations and time zones.
Keen to retrace his father's footsteps and piece together his family's past, Gabriel Law journeys to Australia where he meets a vulnerable young roadhouse waitress, Gabrielle York. Gabrielle is troubled by her own tragic past, having lost both her parents in the aftermath of her brother's disappearance. The pair discover the truth about their family histories.
Andrew Bovell is an award-winning Australian playwright and screenwriter.
The Tender Mercies by Sladjana Vujovic
Two bit-players are POWs in an unspecified war. A prison warden prepares them for their future life as free men, in the land ruled by their captors. They have to convince their new rulers of loyalty and valour in order to gain freedom. Dark comedy and deep horror alternate in this play that looks at what happens to human beings when they start trusting the language of war.
Sladjana Vujovic is a London-based playwright who is originally from Montenegro. The Tender Mercies is an Edinburgh Fringe First Award winner.
Read the playtext from the collection Eastern Promise.
The Little Black Book
by Jean-Claude Carriere, translated by Solvene Tiffou
One morning, Jean-Jacques leaves his door ajar – and a total stranger slips into his life. Is she deranged, a squatter, or a woman from his past? As a lawyer, he should know how to get rid of her, but as a man, he has no idea. His orderly world is turned upside-down when what started as a comic encounter changes his life forever.
Jean-Claude Carrière is a French novelist, screenwriter, actor and Academy Award honoree. L'aide–memoire was produced in Paris in 1968 and later on Broadway as The Little Black Book in 1972.
Moving Bodies by Arthur Giron
Moving Bodies is a chronicle of the brilliant life of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Richard Feynman. From his role in the development of the atomic bomb to his controversial testimony at the investigation of the Challenger disaster, Feynman casts a long shadow across the worlds of physics and mathematics. Through playwright Arthur Giron's eyes, we see how Feynman became one of the most important scientists of our time.
Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat by Yussef El Guindi
Our Enemies examines the intra-Muslim conflicts that face writers, imams, and second-generation Arab Americans. The successful Arab writer Mohsen is pitted against the struggling writer Gamal and his novelist girlfriend Noor. Each has contended with the idea of 'selling out' and are frustrated at the way their fellow writers represent their culture in the American media.
Yussef El Guindi is a prolific Arab American playwright of Egyptian descent. Our Enemies won the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award in 2009.
Read the playtext in The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi.
Indian Arm by Hiro Kanagawa
Adapted from Henrik Ibsen's Little Eyolf, this is the story of Rita and Alfred Allmers who live in an isolated family cabin on native leasehold land overlooking Indian Arm, a still untamed glacial fjord just north of Vancouver, BC. The fragile impasse of their lives is torn asunder by the appearance of Janice, the surviving member of the Indigenous family who leased the land to Rita’s reclusive and mysterious father over 50 years ago. With the lease now expired, they are all engulfed by the secrets and contradictions of their lives and of the land itself – in both the past and the present – and their stories are drawn inexorably toward an unspeakable tragedy.
Indian Arm won the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama in 2017.
Bone Cage by Catherine Banks
Bone Cage examines how young people in rural communities, employed in the destruction of the environment they love, treat the people they love at the end of their shift. Bone Cage is about the difficulty in growing and hanging on to dreams in a world where dreams are seen as impractical or weak. It is funny. It is tragic. It is about different kinds of escaping. It is about a soul trapped in its own rib cage, a cage of bone, a bone cage.
Bone Cage was awarded the Special Merit prize in the Theatre BC New Play Competition in 2002 and the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama in 2008.