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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: March ::
50 Best American Plays
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0107  Monday, 9 March 2009

[1]  From:   Michael Luskin <
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      Date:   Friday, 6 Mar 2009 20:41:13 EST
      Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0102 50 Best American Plays

[2]  From:   Mari Bonomi <
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      Date:   Friday, 6 Mar 2009 23:15:47 -0500
      Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0102 50 Best American Plays


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Michael Luskin <
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Date:      Friday, 6 Mar 2009 20:41:13 EST
Subject: 20.0102 50 Best American Plays
Comment:   Re: SHK 20.0102 50 Best American Plays

I didn't read the beginning of this thread so I am not sure if we are 
looking for the fifty best American plays or if we are looking for fifty 
plays that are apt for middle school children. I have two suggestions.

A long time ago, I was looking for a list of the fifty (note the number) 
most important papers in twentieth century physics. I happened to 
mention this to a research librarian at a major university; somehow, we 
started talking about what research librarians did, and how they could 
not possibly compile such a list. We made a bet, a good dinner, that she 
could produce a better list than I could. When the day came, I had come 
up with a list of about thirty papers, and that was all I could think 
of. But she gave me a list of fifty, not forty-nine or fifty-one seminal 
papers, which was the fodder for a graduate introduction to physics 
seminar for two decades. So I would ask a research librarian your 
question, their skill set includes finding things out that they know 
nothing about. I later found out that she thought that she had made a 
sucker bet with me.

Second, most states have a department of education and they have 
officers for different areas. Note that most departments of education 
have limited power, and do a lot of consulting. In particular, in 
Pennsylvania, the Department has a collection of people that set 
standards, advise school districts on curriculum, evaluate programs, 
advise on new test books, and so forth. I would call the ones in your 
state. I bet they could help.

I am not sure that collecting a list of the fifty best plays for middle 
school kids is such a great idea. I started taking my son to Shakespeare 
when he was about six. While he might not have been able to contribute 
much to this list, he did enjoy and get to love Shakespeare from an 
early age. On the other hand, his favorite characters were Macbeth, 
Richard III, and Malvolio, his least favorite character was Henry V. 
Maybe if kids are not told that they are not appropriate for middle 
schoolers, they will enjoy them.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Mari Bonomi <
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Date:      Friday, 6 Mar 2009 23:15:47 -0500
Subject: 20.0102 50 Best American Plays
Comment:   Re: SHK 20.0102 50 Best American Plays

I understood and passed by Charles Weinstein's comment, having 
experience of Charles's jaundiced eye.

But I would like to know why Mr. Zarela feels the same, that there are 
no "Best American plays."

(And I'd include The Crucible, Raisin in the Sunday, Long Day's Journey 
and Moon for the Misbegotten, Picnic, Our Town, and so many, many other 
wonderful plays . . . along with such musicals as South Pacific.  But my 
taste for the most part seems to hover around the middle third of the 
20th century, which is an injustice to all the fine playwrights both 
before and after.)

Mari Bonomi

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