Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harvey by Mary Chase (1945)

Summary:  Veta Dowd attempts to have her brother Elwood committed because he has an “imaginary friend” named Harvey—a rabbit who stands at over six feet tall.  Antics ensue involving Mrs. Dowd’s involuntary accidental committal to the asylum.  Ultimately, the head psychiatrist (Dr. Chumley) begins to see Harvey as well. 

Thoughts:  Because I have seen the 1950 film, Elwood’s lines echoed in my head in the voice of Jimmy Stewart—not an all-together unpleasant reading experience.   Somehow, the cruelty of humans towards each other seemed much more apparent in this play than in the film, perhaps due to the unlikeable self-obsessed character of young Myrtle (Elwood’s niece).

In their brief introduction, Gassner/Barnes reveal that, in the staging of the play, the choice to make Harvey invisible was simply because the director couldn’t figure out how to put a six-foot rabbit on stage without looking ridiculous.

State of the Union by Howard Lindsey & Russel Crouse (1946)

Summary:  Higher-ups in the Republican Party persuade Grant Matthews that he should seriously consider running for President.  This plea appeals to his large ego; but before he can make this happen, he must repair tenuous relations with his wife, potentially leave his mistress and figure out what his political views actually are.

Thoughts:  Like political drama that has come after it (The West Wing, The American President), the pace of this play is extremely quick and is aided both by people talking over each other and the physical movements of someone being handled and shuttled from place-to-place very quickly.  Everyone in this play has some sort of agenda and most of them are trying to hide it from Mr. Matthews, most notably his shrewd and funny wife Mary.  Everything goes to hell in an unseen dinner scene where Mary is seated next to Kay Thorndyke (Matthew’s mistress) and has had a few too many cocktails (it is the night of their anniversary, after all).

Clearly, State of the Union is a title with multiple meanings; and ultimately, it is revealed that Matthews will have to sacrifice governing one Union in order to live comfortably in another.

The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan (1940)

Summary:  Characters move in and out of Nick’s Pacific Street Saloon, a bar in San Francisco.  As with most bars, some are regulars while others enter only to cause a stir and then quickly depart.  Most of the people who find their way into Nick’s looking for work are down on their luck, and though he attempts a tough exterior…he always tries to find a place for them.  Besides Nick, the most important character in the bar is Joe—a man who appears to have money for no discernible reason and gives it away willingly.

Thoughts:  My initial thought after reading this play was, “Did I miss something?”  Having read a number of these plays, I’ve developed an affinity for the slice of life, one-setting formula that has been so rewarded over the years.  However, I simply just didn’t find this one as compelling of some that surround it.  I appreciated the element of magical realism (Kit Carson is a character in the play)…but other than that I was left wondering, “Why this one?”

Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz (2003)

Summary: A Cuban family owns a cigar factory in Tampa, where they employ lectors to read from the classics (notably Anna Karenina) while cigars are hand-rolled. Tension exists between those who are loyal to the old way of doing things and those who believe the company could be more productive with the use of machines and the dismissal of lectors. The “out with the old, in with the new” tension also carries over to individual marriages in the play—especially between Conchita and Palomo, who have decided that they may not be in love anymore. Consequently, Conchita begins having an affair with Juan Julian, the newest lector.

Thoughts: I’ve had this play on my shelf since it was published and have never read it. Moreover, I’ve actively avoided reading it for this project and I really have no idea why. Well, wait. In 2003, a person whose literary opinion I didn’t hold in high esteem wouldn’t stop talking about it the summer after it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. How dumb. Seven years after my stubbornness, I found Cruz’s work moving and his use of language was extremely impressive.

The play had tough competition for the Prize in 2003: fellow nominees were Take Me Out and The Goat; plays that deal with homosexuality and bestiality, respectively. This play is an interesting examination of the Cuban immigrant experience and the combined pressure to assimilate and need to preserve family and culture.  While the play is set in 1929, Cruz's handling of fairly universal themes makes the play a quick and highly relevant read.  Additionally, Cruz uses both large chunks of Tolstoy’s work as lines for the lector to read, and also short lines of Tolstoy's work seamlessly woven into dialogue. While the classic work undoubtedly serves its purpose in the script, some of the choices are perhaps too deliberately heavy handed (Anna Karenina is in a forbidden relationship, and so is the lector. And this is repeated again and again).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Men in White by Sidney Kingsley (1934)

Summary:  Doctors at various stages of their careers are at work in a hospital.  One night, the engaged Dr. Ferguson has an adulterous tryst with a nurse named Barbara.  A few months later, Barbara herself is on the operating table after an abortion goes wrong.  Ultimately, Barbara dies and Laura (Dr. Ferguson’s fiancee) leaves Dr. Ferguson, reminding her overworked former fiancee to, “work hard.” 

Thoughts:  Abortion!  Adulterous trysts!  1934!  When I read the line, “septic abortion”, I immediately put an exclamation point in the margin.  To that point, the drama of the play surrounded the action of the hospital and the interpersonal relationships of the characters; but the botched abortion served as a catalyst for the remainder of the dramatic action.  While Nurse Barbara is being prepared for surgery, Dr. Hochberg (a senior physician) invites Laura to watch Ferguson's next surgery in order to help her understand the importance of his work.  The next surgery "coincidentally" happens to be the removal of Barbara's uterus.  During the surgery, the entire sordid situation becomes clear to Laura…who is understandably devastated.  

One of the most interesting things about this play is Kingsley’s extensive usage of footnotes.  Sometimes, his footnotes simply translate medical language “Stat=hospital jargon for immediatley” (443), but other times, his liberal inclination shines through:   
“No one wants to encourage the indiscriminate use of this grim practice.  However, the lash of the law, instead of correcting the evil, only whips it into dark corners, creating a vicious class of criminal practitioner--bootleg doctors and ignorant midwives who work in dark, back-room apartments.  A saner, healthier attitude is that adopted by the Soviet government, which is fostering birth control education, and instituting legal abortion clinics in a spirit best expressed by the motto inscribed over the door of one such clinic:  "You are welcome this time, but we hope you will never have to come here again" (466). 
This was Kingsley's first published work, written six years after his graduation from Cornell where he "distinguished himself with his talents in forensic and dramatic art" (436). 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Green Pastures by Marc Connelly (1930)

Summary:  In the first scene, children in a “negro church” are asking typical children-at-Sunday-School questions, concerning why God decided to create the world.  Their teacher gives them typical “I don’t know, read the Bible” answers.   In the next scene, God is in Heaven, lamenting his boredom and decides to create man and the world.  The next thirteen scenes follow God and man’s interactions from The Garden of Eden to Noah to Moses to the eventual crucifixion of Christ.

Thoughts:  In the spirit of Rice's Street Scene, I found myself having to read much of this play aloud because it is written in “typical negro dialect.”  The play is full of sentences like, “An’ you better take an’ git married an’ settle down an’ raise some chillun.  Dey ain’t nothin’ to make a man fo’git his troubles like raisin’ a family.  Now, you better git” and “You got two bad lookin’ eyes.  I bet yo’ hot coffee ‘mong de women folks” (402, 403).

While the play was written by a white male and much of the dialogue is stereotypically problematic, I was intrigued and appeased (?) to discover that this was the first play on Broadway with an entirely black cast.  I wasn’t always thrilled to be reading it, but now I am very interested in the play’s production history, audience reception and critical reviews.

Alison's House by Susan Glaspell (1931)

Summary:  On the last night of the 1800s (December 31, 1899), a family has gathered to pack up their family estate, where only ailing Aunt Agatha currently resides.  Agatha will move in with her brother (male protagonist Mr. Stanhope) and the home will likely be sold to a couple who will transform it into a summer boarding house.  Aunt Alison is the unseen title character of this play--a poet of national acclaim who died many years ago.  Regardless, she is still the main topic of conversation in the house, especially after a reporter from Chicago visits, hoping to see her room and get an answer to the question, “Have all of her poems been published?”

Thoughts:  This play did a really excellent job of holding my interest in the two essential questions of the text:  1.  Have all of Alison’s poems been published?  and 2.  Why does everyone keep talking about her as if there is some sort of secret surrounding her?  The obvious answer to the first question is no, which becomes a pivotal issue in the third act; but the second question led me to a number of different hypotheses while reading.  A suicide?  A lesbian?  Incest?  Inquiring minds want to know! 

From the outset, it is clear that Aunt Agatha does not want to move because she feels closest to her sister Alison in the family mansion; and the strain of moving eventually results in her death—but not before she can hand over a satchel of unpublished poems to a recently returned niece (Edna).  Edna is the source of family scandal and not entirely welcomed at home because she recently ran off with a married man.  Eventually, it becomes clear that both old Mr. Stanhope and Alison experienced the same sorts of pining toward married people…but they didn’t act on their feelings.  Instead, Alison wrote poetry that ultimately both united and divided her family.  Most of the characters in this play, seen and unseen, have dealt with unrequited love and find themselves sharing stories (and poems) that have long been buried on New Years Eve, 1899.

“And then—all of a sudden—We had been dancing; we stopped by the door.  We just looked at each other—stared, rather, and he said—“Why, Elsa!”  We stood there, and then he said, “It is Elsa.”  And we went out to the veranda, and everything was different, because he was Bill and I was Elsa.  And everything we had together in the past—when we used to slide down hill together—was there, alive, giving us a past we hadn’t known we were making for ourselves.”  
(Act 3)

A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee (1967)

Summary:  Agnes and Tobias are a married couple living in the comfort of the suburbs, clearly affluent enough to never discuss working outside of the home or any sort of financial strain.  Instead, they spend much of their time finding creative and emotionally destructive ways to fight with each other, often surrounding the topic of Claire—a seemingly permanent houseguest (and the alcoholic younger sister of Agnes).  There is news that their 30(ish) year-old daughter Julia is expected back home, fresh off her fourth failed marriage.  In a dramatic break from the routine, Edna and Harry arrive at the end of Act 1.  They are, apparently, Agnes and Tobias’s closest friends.  More interestingly, they are suddenly terrified of being alone in their house, for reasons unspecified throughout the play.

Thoughts:  So many of the plays I have read thus far have been about the way that couples fight with each other, but there is nothing reminiscent of polite veneer (Dinner with Friends, Rabbit Hole, The Subject was Roses) in this play.  Agnes and Tobias know how to hurt each other, and their fighting is reminiscent of another more famous Albee couple—George and Martha (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)  They fight about Claire, they fight about Julia, they fight about Edna and Harry…they fight, seemingly, because they love to fight and excel at it.

The dialogue in this play is interesting enough to make it remarkable, but the play comes to an absolute stunning halt at the end of Act 1 when Edna exclaims, “WE WERE FRIGHTENED….AND THERE WAS NOTHING” (47).  Tobias, Agnes and Claire attempt to figure out what is going on…and the last line of Act 1, only two pages later is Claire’s response, “Don’t you know yet?  (small chuckle)  You will.”  We never know definitively what this fear is—the hints are towards nuclear war, but no one ever says outright.  Eventually, the play ends with a long monologue by Tobias concerning the nature of friendship, love and responsibility.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire (2007)

Summary:  The play opens a few months after Becca and Howie have lost their four-year old son in a freak accident involving a teenage driver and an unlatched gate.  Almost immediately, Becca's sister Izzie reveals that she is newly pregnant (unmarried) and this adds another level to the grief and stress that Becca and Howie are already experiencing.  Additionally, the teenager (Jason) desperately wants to meet Becca and Howie to make some sort of amends.  Becca eventually meets with Jason and they talk primarily about his own science fiction writing.

Thoughts:  Hmmm. I saved this play to read when on a night when I had little motivation, thinking that I would absolutely love it.  Lindsay-Abaire is fantastic at writing dialogue, so the play was a very fast read...but I did not become as attached to this play or it's characters as I had hoped.  Other nominees in 2007 included Bulrusher, Orpehus X and A Soldier's Fugue; none of which have received the same sorts of popular acclaim as nominees in 2005, 2006, 2008 or 2009.  I certainly did not dislike this play, but also wasn't as invested or moved as I had anticipated.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Street Scene by Elmer Rice (1929)

Summary: The entire play takes place on a street in New York when neighbors actually talked to each other and sat on their stoops in an attempt to obtain the most recent gossip. The neighborhood contains a wide range of immigrants and people who are fairly comfortable discussing their own religious biases and prejudices.  No one seems to have much money, but it also doesn't seem to matter very much.

From the outset, the older married females in the play are gossiping about Mrs. Maurrant who is having a not so secret affair with the milk collector. Meanwhile, Mrs. Maurrant’s daughter Rose is starting to have feelings for a neighbor boy named Sam.  Sam's sister cautions Rose against falling in love with her brother because he is Jewish, stating that mixed marriages are just too complicated. Ultimately, Mrs. Maurrant’s husband shoots the milk collector in a jealous rage. However, after all of this excitement, things in the neighborhood seem unchanged. Love will remain unrequited and gossip will continue to be an insidious way to make the time pass.

Thoughts: Random library selection caused me to read this play the day after reading Why Marry? and I was impressed that another play written decades ago contained women with such progressive attitudes toward the relationship between love and marriage.

Some of this play was a struggle to read because, instead of specifying race or nationality through stage directions, Rice actually scripts the variations in speech. Sentences like, “E talka lika dat een Eetaly, Mussolini's gonna geeve 'eem da castoroil” needed to be read aloud for comprehension.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Marry? by Jesse Lynch Williams (1918)

Summary:  Couples in a family are each having separate issues surrounding the subject of marriage.
Main plot:  Ernest and Helen:   two scientists who agree that they love each other; and also agree that they do not want to marry.
Sub-plots:  Rex and Jean:  probably don’t really love each other but have decided that it is time to marry.
John and Lucy:  Established married couple of the family.  All of the action of the play takes place at their home.  Amidst all the marriage craziness, Lucy eventually announces that she wants a divorce because she’s never really loved John in the first place.  John dismisses this as female hysteria.
Uncle Everett and unseen wife Julia:   Everett provides comic relief throughout the play.  He and his own wife are “secretly” attempting a trial separation, but she keeps sending cute telegrams from Reno, eventually revealing that they both miss each other and she’s on her way home.
Thoughts:  This play was originally published under the title And So They Were Married, but perhaps in an attempt to not give away the ending…it was changed and The Pulitzer committee recognizes it under the title Why Marry?  I have to say that I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I received this play through Inter-library loan and noticed that the first recipient of the Pulitzer is 242 pages long; but I was actually delightfully surprised.
The text is shockingly progressive, especially for 1918.  Helen is a brilliant, working scientist whose family believes that it is time for her to get married.  She and Ernest profess their love to each other and both agree that, “those who love each other truly don’t need anything to bring them together.  The difficulty is to keep apart” (148).  Clearly, Helen’s family thinks that this idea is ludicrous.
The play contains major commentary surrounding not only the subject of family and marriage; but also the role of both the church and state in marriage and civil unions and gender bias in academia.  Though these are all weighty subjects, the comedic elements of the play are both whimsical and intelligent.  Additionally, many of William’s lines are pointedly succinct.  He clearly uses word economy to his advantage, creating snippets of dialogue that can be quoted and remembered. 
I think a fascinating paper would be a queer reading of this play, especially because many of Helen and Ernest’s thoughts about marriage are reminiscent of rhetoric currently being used on both sides of the gay marriage/civil union argument.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder (1943)

Summary:  This play tracks the life of George Antrobus and his wife Maggie through three major periods: an ice age, the Roaring Twenties/a major flood and after a seven year war reminiscent of the Civil War.  The time periods are not clearly specified but definitely have allusions to both Biblical and historical times.   George and Maggie are the quintessential archetypes….and their relationship (which has apparently gone on for about 5,000 years) is a relatively “normal” set of husband/wife interactions.

Thoughts:  Well.  I just loved this play.  Though it was written in 1942, much of the humor has remained intact and I found myself thinking, “A comedy!  Thank God!” as it was my first since beginning the Project.  Because he deals with archetypes and has forty actors, Wilder allows himself the room to make sweeping pronouncements about humanity and the current state of affairs without falling into melodrama or forced sentimentality. 

By the end of the play, we’ve followed George and Maggie through some fairly major trials and tribulations, but they remain together dealing with their own family comedy and drama as the world around them has changed drastically.  At the end of the third act, Wilder borrows language from philosophers as he writes about the history of the world and it’s inhabitants in a voice reminiscent of some of Norman Corwin’s best work.

The Subject was Roses by Frank Gilroy (1965)

Summary:  John and Nettie Cleary have just welcomed their son Timmy home from World War II.  As such, there are feelings of happiness, relief and the awkwardness that accompanies the return of a third person to a two-party household.  As the play progresses, the troubled nature of each relationship in the play (John and Nettie, Nettie and Timmy, John and Timmy) is illuminated.

Thoughts:  Again, a play where not much happens outside of the small New York apartment where it is set over the course of one weekend.  This family doesn’t have horrendous problems, but they have clearly never talked openly about the interpersonal issues that they do have.  Upon his return from war, Timmy is drinking perhaps too much, making grown-up decisions about his faith and future…and his parents are clearly not ready to let him go after just getting him back.

"[The Subject was Roses] is my signature play, for which I am grateful.  But my dream is some day to be introduced as the author of something other.  So far no cigar, but it ain’t over. 
The Pulitzer guarantees the first line of my obituary. 
I wouldn’t give it back.  But it screwed me up for several years as you’ll see."
-Gilroy’s introduction to this play in Frank Gilroy Volume 1 (Smith and Kraus). 

A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller (1982)

Summary:  A black soldier has been found dead just outside of Fort Neal---a segregated army camp in Louisiana (1944).  First, the shooting is blamed on the omnipresent KKK, then on racist white soldiers, before finally on a black officer who hates black men who (to him) perpetuate the stereotype of lazy and uneducated.

Fuller’s character list is a simple list of names, with no description provided noting the age or race of any of these characters.  For me, this made reading the play confusing at times because I was trying to track the race relations without being certain of which characters were white and which were black.  After finishing the play, I feel confident that this was an intentional choice for Fuller.  Clearly, if you were watching the play, this wouldn’t be an issue; but the omission of these details demands a more careful reading of the text…which results in more attention to the nuanced relationships and dialogue of Fuller’s characters.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies (2000)

Summary:  Karen and Gabe and Tom and Beth are two couples that have each been married for about twelve years.  At a routine dinner, Beth reveals that Tom has left her—sending Karen and Gabe into examinations of their own marriage.  These examinations include a long flashback-scene twelve years prior when they were newlyweds introducing Tom and Beth on a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.  By the final act, Tom and Beth have both told Karen and Gabe that they are happier now that they are separated and that they have found new partners that make them both feel more alive.  This makes Karen and Gabe question the banality of their marriage, but Gabe ultimately says (to Tom):  "The key to civilization, I think, is fighting the impluse to chuck it all."

Thoughts:  Another play in the collection where not much happens outside of a few interpersonal relationships.  A hyper-realistic portrayal of how people who are very comfortable with each other fight featuring a few different examples:  pointed glances across the room (don’t let the company see!), intense couple’s argumentation where the wronged party demands high status ending in violent (though fantastic!) sex and revelatory fighting between friends who have suppressed their small grievances and annoyances for years.

In a year where the other two nominees were Suzan-Lori Parks and August Wilson, it is perhaps interesting to note that this play is full of the privileged white experience.  Karen and Gabe have just returned from a fantastic vacation to Italy, the two couples have vacationed together multiple times in Martha’s Vineyard and Karen, Gabe and Tom have decidedly white-collar day-jobs while Beth does not work and instead is allowed the financial freedom to pursue painting—which Tom, Gabe and Karen all “secretly” dislike. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Three Tall Women by Edward Albee (1994)

Summary: Three actresses play a character (not named) at different points in her life—around late 80s, 52 and 26. The actress playing the 26 year-old version is often dismissive of the advice given by older versions of herself. As such, they are both hyper-critical towards this young version of themselves. The oldest incarnation of this character is literally on her deathbed during the second act and repeatedly speaks in vague terms about an estranged son possibly coming to visit her. He does eventually visit, but never speaks.

In his Introduction, Albee explains, “I did not want to write a revenge piece.” However, he also makes it very clear that this play is about his adoptive mother, with whom he had a very troubled relationship (“I did not like her much, could not abide her prejudices, her loathings, her paranoias.”) With this set up, Albee creates three separate characters (though they are actually the same person), each deeply flawed. At times when they are delivering their major monologues, they paint themselves as completely unlikeable—only to later be redeemed by a different version of themselves.

Because of his extraordinarily personal introduction (he never claims that the play is not autobiographical) parts of this play made me feel like I know much more about Edward Albee than I actually do. One of the most heightened moments happens when the mother character graphically describes having adulterous sex in a barn with a stable hand, then stating that her son confronted her about it. As retaliation, she reflects on the incendiary comments made about his homosexuality that caused his abrupt premature departure from home.

"People often ask me how long it takes me to write a play, and I tell them 'all of my life.'"
-Edward Albee in the Introduction to Three Tall Women

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wit by Margaret Edson (1999)

Summary:  Fifty year-old Dr. Vivian Bearing is suffering from stage-four ovarian cancer, after having dedicated her life to the study of 17th century poetry, specifically the work of John Donne.  She struggles through an eight-month course of chemotherapy alone; but we know from page three that she will be dead by the final curtain.

Thoughts:  Perhaps the most stunning part of this play came after the end of the text in the author’s biography.  There, I learned that Margaret Edson is a kindergarten teacher from Atlanta and that Wit is her first (and only) play. 

This play could easily be cut into a one-woman show and staged productions likely depend entirely on the prowess of the actress playing Vivian.  Edson succeeds at capturing Bearing’s stiff lecturer persona while using the elegiac language of Donne partially because this language is balanced with a few actors speaking the most plain and mundane English.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ruined by Lynn Nottage (2009)

Summary:  Mama Nadi owns a bar/brothel in The Democratic Republic of Congo.  One of her rules involves serving any paying customer:  including soldiers on either side of the conflict.  The setting never changes, but stakes are raised when she is asked to take in more girls than she can handle and is visited both by rebel leaders and soldiers from the current government.   

Thoughts:  I feel like it is really difficult to offer any sort of critique of this play without appearing racist or culturally insensitive.  While the subject matter is unquestionably compelling, I was not extraordinarily moved by the actual text.  I was, however, moved by the photographs of the women in the appendix of the play (taken by Nottage’s husband) and information included in the Introduction (by director Kate Whorisky).  While the play is not an ethnography, Nottage’s work was primarily informed by interviews with women (in the Congo) who have experienced sexual violence as a result of the political upheaval in their country.  Unlike other interview-based work (The Laramie Project, The Exonerated) this play veers away from traditional monologue storytelling…and perhaps this is why I felt emotionally removed from a very emotional subject.

Other nominees in 2009 included In the Heights and Becky Shaw—both largely about families and their internal conflicts, so perhaps the committee decided it was time to award a play set outside of a nuclear family in the United States (from 2000-2010, over half of the recipients involve a central theme of dysfunction in the American family).

Thursday, September 2, 2010


2010 Next to Normal, music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey
2009 Ruined by Lynn Nottage
2008 "August: Osage County" by Tracy Letts
2007 Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire
2006 No Award
2005 Doubt, a parable by John Patrick Shanley
2004 I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright
2003 Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
2002 Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks
2001 Proof by David Auburn
2000 Dinner With Friends by Donald Margulies
1999 Wit by Margaret Edson
1998 How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel
1997 No award.
1996 Rent by the late Jonathan Larson
1995 The Young Man From Atlanta by Horton Foote
1994 Three Tall Women by Edward Albee
1993 Angels in America: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner
1992 The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan
1991 Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon
1990 The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
1989 The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein
1988 Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry
1987 Fences by August Wilson
1986 (No Award)
1985 Sunday in the Park With George; music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine.
1984 Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
1983 Night, Mother by Marsha Norman
1982 A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller
1981 Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley
1980 Talley's Folly by Lanford Wilson
1979 Buried Child by Sam Shepard
1978 The Gin Game by Donald L. Coburn
1977 The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer
1976 A Chorus Line conceived, choreographed and directed by Michael Bennett, with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Edward Kleban
1975 Seascape by Edward Albee
1974 (No Award)
1973 That Championship Season by Jason Miller
1972 (No Award)
1971 The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel
1970 No Place To Be Somebody by Charles Gordone
1969 The Great White Hope by Howard Sackler
1968 (No Award)
1967 A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee
1966 (No Award)
1965 The Subject Was Roses by Frank D. Gilroy
1964 (No Award)
1962 How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows
1961 All The Way Home by Tad Mosel
1960 Fiorello! Book by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.
1959 J. B. by Archibald MacLeish
1958 Look Homeward, Angel by Ketti Frings
1957 Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill
1956 Diary of Anne Frank by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich
1955 Cat on A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
1954 The Teahouse of the August Moon by John Patrick
1953 Picnic by William Inge
1952 The Shrike by Joseph Kramm
1951 (No Award)
1950 South Pacific by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
1949 Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
1948 A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
1947 (No Award)
1946 State of the Union by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay
1945 Harvey by Mary Chase
1944 (No Award)
1943 The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder
1942 (No Award)
1941 There Shall Be No Night by Robert E. Sherwood
1940 The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan
1939 Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert E. Sherwood
1938 Our Town by Thornton Wilder
1937 You Can't Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
1936 Idiots Delight by Robert E. Sherwood
1935 The Old Maid by Zoe Akins
1934 Men in White by Sidney Kingsley
1933 Both Your Houses by Maxwell Anderson
1932 Of Thee I Sing by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin
1931 Alison's House by Susan Glaspell
1930 The Green Pastures by Marc Connelly
1929 Street Scene by Elmer L. Rice
1928 Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill
1927 In Abraham's Bosom by Paul Green
1926 Craig's Wife by George Kelly
1925 They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard
1924 Hell-Bent Fer Heaven by Hatcher Hughes
1923 Icebound by Owen Davis
1922 Anna Christie by Eugene O'Neill
1921 Miss Lulu Bett by Zona Gale
1920 Beyond the Horizon by Eugene O'Neill
1919 (No Award)
1918 Why Marry? by Jesse Lynch Williams
1917 (No Award)