Friday, May 9, 2014

100 Plays

A couple of years ago I picked up a book at a garage sale called 'The 100 Best Poems of All Time' (finally found it on Amazon!).  For the past couple of years I've been blogging my way through it, about one poem a week.  You can read the full series by clicking on the 'Poetry' link at the bottom of this post.
I've fully enjoyed this side project.  Part of the reason that I decided to the Great Books reading list is to become more well read.  The poetry book has helped with that.  More importantly, it has introduced me to some wonderful, wonderful poems that I'd never read before.  This one might be my favorite.  Unfortunately, I've only got twenty-some poems left.  I'll finish up before the end of the year.  I thought about simply being done and concentrating on the Great Books but I've enjoyed have a side project to help pace my way through. 
Then I remembered that a couple of years ago, when I was trying to figure out if there was some consensus that Hamlet was the greatest stage play ever, I stumbled across a book that tried to rank the 100 greatest plays of all time.  Well.  I know theater better than I do poetry but my knowledge of it isn't nearly so complete that I couldn't stand to expand it.  (This is an understatement!)  Long story short, I bought it and I'm going to work my way through it.
There are some issues, big and small, to figure out.
  • A full play is much, much longer than a poem.  I can read and blog about a poem after work on a Sunday night but this simply isn't true about a full stage play.  Instead of one a week, it will be one a month.
  • Let's see, seven years at one play a month comes to . . . 84 plays.  Which leaves me 16 short.  Either the drama project will go past the Great Books or I need to do it in a shorter period of time.  Skip the ones that are covered by the Great Books?  Lop off the last 16?  After some consideration, I decided that I'd simply look for months were I could double up and get the whole thing done on time.  
  • I'm also going to start right now so that I can get another eight months in.  I might try to cover quite a bit of it this summer, when the Great Books are mostly narrative, so that I can be on a once a month schedule starting in January.
  • The book has the plays listed from one to one hundred, which is a mistake in my opinion.  I'm going to work them in reverse order, ending up at the greatest play of all time (per Daniel S. Burt, the author).  Each month I'll let you know what the next play is so you can read along.
  • The works are pretty heavily 20th century.  Some of the scripts are available online, especially with the older ones.  I don't personally plan on investing much money here so anything that I can't find online or in anthologies, I'll try and get from the library.  If there is a Project Gutenberg version, I'll link to it.
As with the Great Books project, I'm inviting anyone who wants to tag along and read with me.  It's a big commitment and I'm not looking to hold anyone to it.  If you want to dip in and out from time to time, feel free.

First up is 'Peter Pan' by J M Barrie.  The play can be found here.  


  1. I may try to join in here and there when I have time. I really need to start reading more plays AND poetry to expand my horizons.

    I had no idea that Peter Pan was a play first. Thanks for enlightening me! :-)

    1. You're very welcome to join! I actually did know about Peter Pan but that's only because I saw the very charming movie 'Finding Neverland' a couple of years back. It's worth a watch if you run across it.