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  • Mark Westbrook

What Plays Should I Have Read Before Going To Acting College?


I am an advocate for reading what you love, and not letting anyone pressure you into reading something you don’t want to. However, if you are serious about going to acting college then there are a few plays that you should read before you go - even if it’s only so that you’re not the only one in your class who hasn’t read them! There are a huge number of plays out there, so to make your reading list a bit more digestible we have narrowed it down to the top ten:


A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams - This great man has penned quite a few plays. Which one to pick, if you had to pick one? Streetcar put Marlon Brando on the map, so maybe this one should be at the top of your Williams pile.


The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde - Another amazing playwright whose work has withstood the test of time, Wilde’s wit and ways with words is something that every actor should familiarise themselves with.


Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller - Although some of Miller’s other works are often thought to be better than this little gem, it is an essential on your lost. It won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play - both serious accolades.


Agamemnon, Aeschylus - A well known Greek tragedy, this one will be a bit wordy and the language may seem outdated, but it is a really good script to have under your belt.


A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen - This is the most frequently studied of Ibsen’s work, so it makes sense to have at least had a glance at it before you head off to acting college. Although it was written over a hundred years ago, the themes are still pertinent today.


Waiting For Godot, Samuel Beckett - You may not find this play especially exciting to read, as much of it magic is brought to life when a skilled director brings it to life on stage, but this absurd tragic comedy ought to be read in full before you go off to act in it.


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Edward Albee - This one may raise more of a grim chuckle in you than some of the others in the list, and for some it may even raise memories of uncomfortable family gatherings!


Richard III, William Shakespeare - No play reading list would be complete without one of our Bill’s plays, would it? This one is Shakespeare’s second longest play in the canon after Hamlet, and is considered one of the most important plays for an aspiring actor to read before acting college.


Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill - This is another Pulitzer Prize winner, and it is considered O’Neill’s greatest masterpiece. It is filled with juicy monologues to make your own, as well as perfectly staged scenes and a suitable amount of tragedy.


Oedipus the King, Sophocles - First performed around 429 BC, this play is one of the most popular for educated dramatists. It is a tragedy, following in the Greek tradition, and the evolution of Western theatre can be traced back to this and many others. It’s a fascinating slice of history.


Although it is important to read what you love, and read for pleasure, it is equally important to educate yourself with some of our history’s most famous plays before you go to acting college. Who knows, you may even learn something!

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