Great list. but there is one great play missing: Tennessee Williams' A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE!!! I don't know why you didn't include it.
The 30 greatest American family dramas
American playwrights know how to keep it in the family.
Fri Mar 23 2012
Since as far back as fifth-century B.C. Athens, playwrights have plucked the family tree for the fruits of comedy and tragedy. And while changing customs and technology have altered every aspect of our lives, the family remains a basic unit of society, source material for dramatists today. To compile this ranked list, we had to narrow the category a bit, to American nonmusical works. It’s worth noting that a significant number of the titles—and many in the top ten—are by dead white males from the previous century. Either that means the genre had its heyday 70-odd years ago, or family dramas by women and playwrights of color will make their impact on the canon in the years to come. At any rate, everyone is welcome at the table.
Thanks for the comment, Francis. But I think your count is slightly off: I see three African-American families (Fences, Raisin, Topdog) plus one by an Asian-American playwright that was originally cast as African-American (Lear). What Asian or Latino or Native American plays would you propose we had included in lieu of the ones on this list?
30 family plays. 28 white families. 2 African American families. Absolutely no representation of Asians, Latinos, Native Americans. Rather than this list, I'd love TimeOut to write an article about diverse playwrights.
For the most part they are all about dysfunctional families so what are we saying with this when we call them the greatest "Family" plays? - - - - I actually agree with the choices but we are glorifying conflict and pain. And where is "The Royal Family" or "You Can't Take It With You" , "Ah Wilderness?' - - Oh well Many will scream at me.
Hi Howard: Thanks! Yes, as I note in the introduction to the list we were aware that many of top 10 are older works. I think it may be that genre might have had its heyday in the last century... but who knows what the next 50 years will bring?
Cool list- I have seen about half and read about 2/3 ---Thanks, you just gave me some summer reading to help me paint myself a bigger picture ... :)
A well-reasoned list. It is interesting, however, that of your “Top 10,” the most recent is some 25 years old. Does this indicate a change in focus by playwrights, or that no recent plays measure up to the standards you set?
A GREAT LIST, BUT YOU NEGLECT EARLIER TREASURES, SUCH AS O'NEILL'S TOO OFTED UNDERRATED AH WILDERNESS, SIDNEY HOWARD'S THE SILVER CORD, I REMEMBER MAMA, AND ELMER RICE'S STREET SCENE, NOT TO MENTIO SUCH MUSICALS AS HIGH BUTTON SHOES.
I'm going to read through the list as soon as I have time--since it's not all on a single page--but my first reaction is that family dramas have largely defined American theater and that this has been, still is, a big handicap. Three of my favorite British dramas from recent years, chosen from memory at random, are Patrick Marber's Closer, Michael Frayn's Democracy, and Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. Why doesn't American drama try more often to do the kind of things those plays do?