We have become a society of list makers. It shouldn’t be a surprise, when the Judeo-Christian ethic draws so strongly on the world’s earliest “top ten” list: The Ten Commandments. It’s a common year-end journalistic ritual: the top ten movies, the ten worst books, and what have you. These lists can be expansive and informative; they can be narrow-minded and limiting.
This morning, I came across a list of Ten Contemporary Plays That Should be on Your Shelf from the website Flavorwire and, save for the first entry — of which I’d never heard — it wasn’t a bad 10 play survey if you had to give a crash course in modern American, British and Irish theatre, although limited in gender and racial diversity. But of course, it’s impossible to include everything, and many other opinions are quickly voiced, typically in disagreement, in this situation. But while it’s easy to name plays and playwrights who are missing, commenters rarely stop to say what should be removed.
So I’d like to offer my blog for exactly that: what are the 10 plays you would name as the 10 Most Important Contemporary Plays, the 10 that belong on any theatre lover’s bookshelf, and let’s say by contemporary we mean the past 25 years. Start posting your top tens in the comments below; I’m eager to hear what people think of the Flavorwire list and how they’d make such a list their own. A parlor game, perhaps? Dinner party conversation? Could be. But if enough of you contribute, we might have a very interesting sense of what new works are most valued as essential right now, knowing that in only a couple of years, it could be entirely different.