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Playwriters

A list of all the Playwriters

  • Aeschylus (525/524-456/455 BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian. He is often described as the father of tragedy. Academics' knowledge of the genre begins with his work, and understanding of earlier tragedies is largely based on inferences from his surviving plays. According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in the theatre and allowed conflict among them; characters previously had interacted only with the chorus.

    Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived, and there is a long-standing debate regarding his authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound, which some believe his son Euphorion actually wrote. Fragments of some other plays have survived in quotations and more continue to be discovered on Egyptian papyrus, often giving further insights into his work.

    He was probably the first dramatist to present plays as a trilogy; his Oresteia is the only ancient example of the form to have survived. At least one of his plays was influenced by the Persians' second invasion of Greece (480–479 BC). This work, The Persians, is one of very few classical Greek tragedies concerned with contemporary events and the only one to survive to the present, as well as a useful source of information about its period. The significance of war in Ancient Greek culture was so great that Aeschylus' epitaph commemorates his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon while making no mention of his success as a playwright. Despite this, Aeschylus's work – particularly the Oresteia – is generally acclaimed by modern critics and scholars. (Wikipedia)

  • Aristophanes (446-386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens and a poet of Old Attic Comedy. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete. These provide the most valuable examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy and are used to define it, along with fragments from dozens of lost plays by Aristophanes and his contemporaries.

    Also known as "The Father of Comedy" and "the Prince of Ancient Comedy", Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates, although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher.

    Aristophanes' second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court, but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. "In my opinion," he says through that play's Chorus, "the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all." (Wikipedia)

  • Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni (1707-1793) was an Italian playwright and librettist from the Republic of Venice. His works include some of Italy's most famous and best-loved plays. Audiences have admired the plays of Goldoni for their ingenious mix of wit and honesty. His plays offered his contemporaries images of themselves, often dramatizing the lives, values, and conflicts of the emerging middle classes. Though he wrote in French and Italian, his plays make rich use of the Venetian language, regional vernacular, and colloquialisms. Goldoni also wrote under the pen name and title Polisseno Fegeio, Pastor Arcade, which he claimed in his memoirs the "Arcadians of Rome" bestowed on him.

    One of his best known works is the comic play Servant of Two Masters, which has been translated and adapted internationally numerous times. In 1966 it was adapted into an opera buffa by the American composer Vittorio Giannini. In 2011, Richard Bean adapted the play for the National Theatre of Great Britain as One Man, Two Guvnors. Its popularity led to a transfer to the West End and in 2012 to Broadway.  (Wikipedia)

  • Euripides (480-406 BC) was a tragedian of classical Athens. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians for whom a significant number of plays have survived.Some ancient scholars attributed 95 plays to him but, according to the Suda, it was 92 at most. Of these, 18 or 19 have survived more or less complete (there has been debate about his authorship of Rhesus, largely on stylistic grounds) and there are also fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays. More of his plays have survived intact than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because his popularity grew as theirs declined he became, in the Hellenistic Age, a cornerstone of ancient literary education, along with Homer, Demosthenes, and Menander.

    Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

    This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. Yet he also became "the most tragic of poets",[nb 1] focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. (Wikipedia)

  • George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Wikipedia)

  • Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673), known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright, actor and poet. His extant works include comedies, farces, tragicomedies, comédie-ballets and more. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française more often than those of any other playwright today. His influence is such that the French language itself is often referred to as the "language of Molière".

    Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre.  

    Through the patronage of aristocrats including Philippe I, Duke of Orléans—the brother of Louis XIV—Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, The Doctor in Love, Molière was granted the use of salle du Petit-Bourbon near the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. Later, he was granted the use of the theatre in the Palais-Royal. In both locations Molière found success among Parisians with plays such as The Affected Ladies, The School for Husbands and The School for Wives. This royal favour brought a royal pension to his troupe and the title Troupe du Roi ("The King's Troupe"). Molière continued as the official author of court entertainments. (Wikipedia)

  • Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681), usually referred as Pedro Calderón de la Barca, was a dramatist, poet and writer of the Spanish Golden Age. During certain periods of his life he was also a soldier and a Roman Catholic priest. Born when the Spanish Golden Age theatre was being defined by Lope de Vega, he developed it further, his work being regarded as the culmination of the Spanish Baroque theatre. As such, he is regarded as one of Spain's foremost dramatists and one of the finest playwrights of world literature. (Wikipedia)

  • William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others.

    Yeats was born in Sandymount, Ireland and educated there and in London. He spent childhood holidays in County Sligo and studied poetry from an early age when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult. These topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Wikipedia)

  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. (Wikipedia)

  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. (Wikipedia)



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