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Drama — 20th Century
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1.

The Playboy of the Western World [electronic resource]

Performed by the Druid Theatre Company of Galway, this production of The Playboy of the Western World was heralded as possibly the most definitive version of John Millington Synge's masterpiece. The play is set in a remote inn on the west coast of Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. Christy Mahon is a fugitive who claims to have killed his father. Somehow this act turns him into a local hero and a romantic idol. Ironically, when it is discovered that his father is alive, Christy is totally discredited and the local community seeks its revenge. Playboy is a black comedy of epic proportions.
Online
2011
2.

A Moon for the Misbegotten [electronic resource]

Theatrical sparks flew when veteran O'Neill interpreters Jason Robards Jr. and Colleen Dewhurst joined forces in the celebrated 1973 revival of Eugene O'Neill's tender semiautobiographical drama. Under the inspired direction of José Quintero, they helped transform the neglected 1947 work into a now-recognized modern masterpiece. In a towering performance, the late, great Jason Robards portrays a cynical, self-hating alcoholic actor based on O'Neill's elder brother, Jamie. The majestic Colleen Dewhurst plays the earthy, gruff daughter of his scheming Irish tenant farmer (Ed Flanders) with whom the failed actor spends a soul-baring night of guilt-ridden confessions, tenderness, and absolution. Both Dewhurst and Flanders won Tony Awards for their performances.
Online
1975
3.

Lemonade [electronic resource]

This is a play about the fantasies, inhibitions, and dreams of two lonely matrons who set up competing lemonade stands along a jammed highway. James Prideaux's Lemonade incorporates comedy and tragedy, a touch of the bizarre, and ultimately, a sincere compassion in both women.
Online
1971
4.

The Iceman Cometh [electronic resource]

Jason Robards Jr. became an overnight star with his indelible performance as the glad-handing, doom-ridden Hickey in the legendary 1956 Circle in the Square revival of Eugene O'Neill's towering masterpiece (first staged in 1939). In his harrowing drama, O'Neill shines a harsh but compassionate spotlight on the failed lives, empty hopes, and perpetual pipe dreams of an assortment of down-and-out denizens of a seedy saloon, set in New York in 1912. Their sad but complacent existences are rattled when Hickey arrives for his annual bender a changed man - forswearing alcohol and preaching a deliverance from "the lie of the pipe dream." As Variety originally wrote, "this 'Iceman' was a landmark for the video medium, a reference point for greatness in TV drama." 1960-61 New York Area Emmy f [...]
Online
1960
5.

Futurism [electronic resource]: The Art/Life Revolution

ollowing an automobile accident in the Milanese countryside, poet Filippo Marinetti experienced a form of artistic catharsis. He quickly founded the Futurist movement, shunning all ties to tradition and embracing the dynamic technological landscape of a brand new century. Marinetti and his entourage also became associated with violence, misogyny, and Fascism, and as a result Futurism now resides along an isolated thread within the vibrant tapestry of 20th century art, design, theatre, and literature. But it is precisely because of its anomalous place in the canon that Futurism offers so many intriguing opportunities for study. This program combines vivid dramatizations, forceful voice-overs of Marinetti's writings, and a wealth of archival material as it tells the story of Futurism a [...]
Online
2010
6.

Samuel Beckett [electronic resource]: As the Story Was Told

The life of Irish novelist, poet, and playwright Samuel Beckett is profiled in this two-part documentary: from his Dublin childhood, to his days in Paris, associating with Picasso and Chagall, to old age. Excerpts from a performance of the semiautobiographical Krapp's Last Tape and previously unpublished letters tell the story, along with the remembrances of Beckett's lifelong friend and publisher, Jerome Lindon, relatives, and others who knew him. This is a rare glimpse into the reclusive world of this literary giant, whose most famous work, Waiting for Godot, evokes with unnerving precision the cosmic despair and isolation of modern humankind.
Online
1996
7.

The Stanislavsky Century [electronic resource]

Here is the definitive study of Stanislavsky on film: a retracing of his life and work against the tumultuous backdrop of a Russia which variously censored, spied on, adulated, and co-opted him, using hitherto unknown footage. The program shows how one great creative artist interacted with other giants of his era, from Lenin to Stalin, Meyerhold to Mayakovsky, Isadora Duncan to Stella Adler - and includes, in addition to the Chekhov plays, scenes from his productions of Ibsen, Gogol, Hamlet with Gordon Craig as codirector, and Molière's Le Malade Imaginaire with Stanislavsky as Argan, among many others.
Online
1993
8.

Our Town [electronic resource]

Thornton Wilder's finest play, a deeply sympathetic examination of lives in small-town America, is here given an outstanding adaptation. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Online
1940
9.

Pygmalion [electronic resource]

This 1938 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's most popular play stars Leslie Howard as a linguistics professor who tries to transform a young working-class woman into a lady. The screenplay was later adapted into the famous musical My Fair Lady.
Online
1938
10.

Exploring the Avant-Garde [electronic resource]: Peter Sellars

Director Peter Sellars says it's fine with him if people hate his controversial theatrical work, and many have taken him up on the offer. Sellars has been director of the Boston Shakespeare Company and the American National Theatre at the Kennedy Center. He's been called bullheaded, sophomoric, and weird; he's also been called a genius, brilliant, exciting, and innovative. He set a Mozart opera in New York's Trump Tower and Shakespeare in a swimming pool, and he even conceived an opera about Richard Nixon's trip to China. But there's a method in all this madness. Theater should be hard, he says. It should shake you up and speak truth to power. Love it or hate it, says Sellars, at least it means you're thinking. In this program with Bill Moyers, Sellars discusses his controversial car [...]
Online
1990
11.

Stage for a Nation [electronic resource]

The National Theatre has entertained Washington since the time of Andrew Jackson, bringing the best of Broadway to Washington (and sometimes sending a play or musical to Broadway), providing a stage for theatrical legends from Edwin Booth to Helen Hayes, casting an influence on the American theater simply because it was the National Theatre and on the nation because theater - even when it appears all froth or fancy - remains a powerful medium that alters in some way all those who watch it. This spectacular program celebrates both the history and the present of the National: its memorabilia survey the history of American taste; institutions of the theater, like Helen Hayes, Pearl Bailey, and Carol Channing, describe the added dimensions of playing to an audience of power brokers and p [...]
Online
1986
12.

Samuel Beckett [electronic resource]: Silence to Silence

The elusive author of Waiting for Godot cooperated in the production of this portrait, which traces Beckett's artistic life through his prose, plays, and poetry. Billie Whitelaw, Jack McGowran, and Patrick Magee-Beckett's great dramatic interpreters-appear in selected extracts from the plays; Beckett specialist David Warrilow narrates a variety of texts.
Online
1991
13.

Peter Shaffer [electronic resource]

The conflict between genius and mediocrity is one of his favorite themes. Amadeus, Equus, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Black Comedy-Peter Shaffer is one of the most successful dramatists of our time. In this program, Shaffer, an Englishman who lives in New York, discusses his views on literature, movies, theater, and music. Part actor, part pianist, he demonstrates his skill at both.
Online
1988
14.

Human Voice [electronic resource]

Ingrid Bergman plays a middle-aged woman going through a psychological crisis as a love affair ends. French playwright Jean Cocteau's one-character drama unfolds in the form of an extended monologue - a one-sided telephone conversation in which the woman tries to win back her lover despite her growing suspicion that he is calling from his young fiancée's home.
Online
1967
15.

Now With Bill Moyers [electronic resource]: Horton Foote on Contemporary Drama

One of America's leading dramatists, Horton Foote has accumulated a wealth of professional honors over his 60-plus-year career-the National Medal of Arts, two Oscars, a Pulitzer Prize, and election to the Theatre Hall of Fame, to name only a few. In this program, Bill Moyers talks with Foote about his new play The Carpetbagger's Children and three concepts that had a distinct influence on it: family, memory, and home. In the process, they open a window on what it is like to be a writer for stage and screen as they discuss topics ranging from the art of storytelling to the dynamics of the creative process. Biographical background on how Foote got his start as an actor and a dramatist is also included.
Online
2005; 2003
16.

Broadway Goes Hollywood [electronic resource]: Musical Comedy in American Cinema

Beginning with the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927, this program provides a detailed look inside that most distinctly American of film traditions, the musical comedy. Interviews with dancer Cyd Charisse, famous for her starring roles in MGM musicals, and Hermes Pan, renowned choreographer and collaborator with Fred Astaire, help to illuminate the advent and evolution of the genre. Excerpts and behind-the-scenes accounts from Singin' in the Rain, 42nd Street, Second Chorus, Flying Down to Rio, The Wizard of Oz, and many other films are included. Specific topics include the impact of the Hays Code, the influence of African-American dance styles, and the decline of the musical during the 1960s.
Online
2009; 2008
17.

George Bernard Shaw [electronic resource]

As a playwright, George Bernard Shaw created many unforgettable characters, but the most intriguing was his own. Shaw claimed to be a philosopher, novelist, socialist, statesman, dramatist, theologian, vegetarian, fanatic, and fluent liar. This Perspectives documentary sets the facts straight.
Online
1996
18.

TEDTalks [electronic resource]: Rives, a 3-Minute Story of Mixed Emoticons

Some people find emoticons annoying. Other people simply can't communicate without them. But, love them or hate them, just about any viewer will savor this short, bittersweet narrative - a typographical fairy tale composed almost entirely of emoticons by poet and storyteller John G. Rives. A regular on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Rives has also appeared at a number of TED conferences, never failing to dazzle audiences with his out-of-the-box presentations.
Online
2008
19.

John Osborne [electronic resource]: Look Back in Anger

Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson star in this production of one of the great classics of post-war British drama. The play's protagonist is Jimmy Porter, who, as a child, watched his father die poor and alone and has grown up to be an angry young man who despises the establishment and vents his bitterness and frustration on his wife and her upper-class background. The playwright himself hailed Kenneth Branagh as "the best Jimmy Porter ever." Emma Thompson plays the wife who must be made to feel pain equal to Jimmy's so that their marriage can survive.
Online
1989
20.

The Tragedian, the Rebel, and the Prince [electronic resource]

This program focuses on the Booth family to evaluate their tremendous impact on American theater and, in a broader sense, to create an image of Victorian American culture. Brooks McNamara, expert on 19th-century theater at New York University, and theater historian and author Mary Henderson delve into the careers of the acclaimed tragic actor Junius Brutus Booth, Sr.; the notorious assassin John Wilkes Booth; and Edwin Booth, America's first great Hamlet and the most important American actor of the 19th century.
Online
2006; 1999