History Play Readers

The history play readers meet to read aloud and discuss plays that deal with events set in the past. We enjoy the experience of exercising our histrionic skills. We also examine the ways in which playwrights have recreated the past, used historical sources, and altered the historical record for political or theatrical purposes. We consider the plays in relation to the times in which they were written and the issues that were important to the playwright and the play’s original audience. We also consider whether a writer has been successful in handling historical materials and creating a theatrically effective work.

Among the many plays we have read are: all of Shakespeare’s histories; works by Ben Jonson, Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, Friedrich Schiller, J. W. Goethe, G. B. Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, and Albert Camus; a classical Japanese play, Chushingura; Aeschylus’ The Persians (the world’s first history play); and works by contemporary playwrights Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard, Athol Fugard, August Wilson, Caryl Churchill, and David Davalos.  In 1988-89, the group created and performed a one-act play about the trial of Olympe de Gouges, a feminist of the French Revolution.

For more information contact Joanne Lafler.

Play Readers Upcoming Meeting

Tuesday, February 20, 1 p.m., home of Ellen Huppert, San Francisco

We will continue reading and discussing Longitude, by Arnold Wesker. Based on the book of the same name by Dava Sobel, the play dramatizes the fascinating story of John Harrison, a carpenter and clock maker from Lincolnshire who, in 1730, competed for a prize for the creation of a marine chronometer that would make it possible for ships at sea to calculate longitude — a challenge that had baffled European navigators since the beginning of long-distance sailing. The group welcomes new members.  If you wish to be placed on our email list and receive announcements, contact Joanne Lafler.