What are some of your favorite plays?

I seem to have a bit of a thing for posting on the 29th of each month, and then the 8th of the next. How odd, as the days of the weeks are different. Anyway…

I was doing this thing with friends and acquaintances that involved asking and answering more or less random questions. It’s an interesting way to get to know each other, and it devolves into being extremely conversational, which is nice, because, you know, I like to talk to people!

Someone asked me, “What are some of your favorite plays?”

And I went, “Holy shit, I have no idea!”

Some of you can answer this question, I don’t doubt. Certainly I might be able to name some playwrights I admire, and some favorite writers, overall. I’ve thought about my favorite musicals at great length – Parade (pre-Donmar), Ragtime, Les Mis, The Last 5 Years. With the exception of the last one, which I just find beautiful and structurally fascinating, these are all shows that I have strong emotional associations with specific productions or processes of. Shows where, working on them propelled me forward in life. So that’s that; favorite musicals, because musicals were so important pre-college, are where sentiment and memory intersect with actual liking. And my purview is limited.

What is “actual liking” about? Because the only play I could really think of, that had moved me and that I thought was fascinatingly written, and that I have worked on (if somewhat peripherally) was A Few Good Men, and then I was like, God, I don’t even know besides that; diventare? Bleugh. I suppose I have a deep and abiding fondness for Much Ado About Nothing, but I hardly think that should count. And then there are all sorts of plays I really enjoy, like Noises Off! or Rumors or Moon Over Buffalo, but that’s all…shenanigans. I liked them because they were fun to watch and fun to learn and fun to work on. They make good high-school stories. Maybe The Shadow Box? But I’m not sure I even remember all of it; maybe I only remember the lines I helped my friend Matt learn (and memorized myself in the process, of course).

I guess I’m looking for where art and entertainment intersect – not for everyone, I don’t think; probably just for me – where my interests as a writer and an artist meet my interests as a citizen of the world. Except for L5Y, which is just – I love love! all the musicals I picked are meaningful to me on Big Issues thematic levels… Anti-Semitism, the plight of the outsider, race, the immigrant’s journey, the weight of history, revolution, class struggle…

I don’t know, guys! I just don’t know. Except for what we read in class, which I always find fascinating for historical, thematic, or writing-y reasons but would rarely say I overwhelmingly like, the only plays I come in contact with are plays I work on. And those are all tied up in how I feel about you.

Thoughts? What are your favorite plays? What are your criteria – do you love them because they have sentimental value, after working on or performing in them? Do you love them because they speak to your heart artistically – and does that mean, Issues? or does that mean, beautiful words? or both? Do you think it has to do with what you think of yourself as first – actor, writer, theatre artist? What are shows you like but don’t think you’d call your “favorites”? Why do we fixate on picking favorites, in general? (I’ve always hated that.)

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