Top Ten Best Playwrights
The Top Ten
Shakespeare: Linguistically the equal and possibly superior of Sophocles; and dramatically as well as linguistically unsurpassed since. His metaphors, always the gauge of poetic genius, are both more frequent and crucially more apposite than any other writer's. It's the appropriate sue of these, their rightness, as well as their imaginative force, that makes him the supreme dramatic writer, but also writer per se of the western canon, should we go that far.
Encompassed a greater range and invented a register of feeling that broke convention in both naturalism and psychological force. And in timing, especially comic timing, he's equally unsurpassed - even Beckett owes him a huge debt.
There are other great dramatic writers with poetic or great language, most notably Ibsen (perhaps the greatest after Shakespeare), Chekhov, the trilogy of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and for comedy obviously Aristophanes; and then in some rough descending order (apologies for this late ...more
Shakespeare's plays are appealing on all levels. They have clever dialogue, well developed characters, and intriguing themes. They aren't clear cut. The first time you see Julius Caesar, you may sympathize with Brutus. The next, Cassius. The next, Marc Antony.
Not boring, just brilliant. Any top performance of Midsummer Nights Dream is funny and clever.
Worldwide best play writeV 47 Comments
Beckett, the analyzer, displayed a mastery of the human condition outmatched only by Tolstoy and Shakespeare.
The heir to Joyce and one of very few writers to master both the dramatic and epic forms - a nonpareil playwright and novelist.
Never tire of his offbeat wit. I could read and watch his plays over and over and come away with a different feeling every time.
Many have wondered whether he was the full quid.V 4 Comments
There's a great bias against Ibsen in the U.S. , where he is known primarily for A Doll House and Hedda Gabler, with his many other fine plays (Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, The Master Builder, etc. ) mostly forgotten. Globally, however, he is one of the most respected--and produced--playwrights. By their own admissions, Arthur Miller and George Bernard Shaw would have been nobodys had it not been for Ibsen.
It is outrageous that a vicious old charlatan like Henrik should have achieved such hallowed status. His effigy should be burnt in public squares throughout the civilized world.
Henrik Ibsen, should be a lot higher than he is! A Dolls House is a genius piece of work. Shakespeare first, then Ibsen straight after, he pioneered modern Drama!
Henrik Ibsen - the greatest Norwegian there ever was.V 13 Comments
The Crucible is an absolutely brilliant work. All of Arthur Miller's plays are. I have not read a playwright that I appreciate the way I appreciate him. Even Shakespeare, who I do passionately love, has not affected me the way Miller has.
In all my years of high school education (currently a Junior), Arthur Miller has been an excellent choice for projects in my AP American Lit class. His books flow like Nutella, unlike the banal, monotone literature received from more "elevated" and "scholarly" playwrights such as Shakespeare.
All My Sons, one undereconized but will always be poignant as long as there is war
A born writer from Brooklyn.V 2 Comments
Known by contemporaries as 'the Clean Racine'.
Truly the greatest neo-classical writer. His myth-inspired plays ally great sparseness and economy of form with purity and simple elegance of language in wrenching tragedies inspired by the tremendous passions of heroes and gods. His greatest plays, Athalie, Phèdre, Iphigénie, Andromaque, Bérénice, all portraits of major female figures of Greek and Hebraic legend, showcase vibrant energy and magnificently contained emotion.V 2 Comments
He is a better playwright than Shakespeare.
He is the worthy play write inspiring many young play writers of that time
One of the finest gem in world of Literature
He understood the beauty and mysteries of life insinctively and realised the genius og languageV 6 Comments
Dialogue like a crisply ironed white shirt.
A flaming exhibitionist with a closet full of skeletons.
His ways with word are deeply appealing especially in the witty mode. this international class of its own.
One of the rarest Dramatist ever. We still couldn't be able to write down a play like him.
A crashing bore and a certified theatrical nincompoop.
There is something out of whack with this exchange.
The very bestV 4 Comments
Definitely a great prose writer and had a good knowledge in literature, but this man wrote bundles that's it, there is no meaning in his work, and his ideologies are full of crap.
"To live is the rarest thing in the world most people exits that is all"
Maybe he took his own quote too seriously, he cheated on his wife as a result, and gave his sons a childhood where they saw their mother crying every day.
He wrote too much rubbish just to defend his act, he was a copy cat, and faced too much critisism in his early career.
Most of his quotes make no sense to me, he was more like a "talker".
If there weren't his witty and humorous stage plays, the world theatre would be poor and boring.
This man is the greatest prose lesson topic included that he was the story teller and writer the lesson the model millionaire.
His pockets were full of lollipops with which to bribe his rent boys.V 6 Comments
This Englishman is genius of literary novelists - and even writing the plays!
One of the most evil men since Adolf Hitler.
He was addicted to brothels.
As novelist perhaps - as a playwright he ranks well below Pinter.
Giant of British playwrights. A unique talent.
The early plays are already classics, especially 'The Caretaker' and 'The Homecoming'. Certainly among the greatest plays of the 20th century.
In a class of his own. Comparisons are futile.
A loony leftist with a deep hatred of America.V 3 Comments
He wrote under a pseudonym to avoid retribution from his critics.
Moliere is far the best ever
One of the true-blue, old-style 'word bottlers'.
Not sure how you can be a master of 'unending hopes' but he was certainly a great playwright.
A theatrical titan. Ought to be in the top five.
Master of the unending hopes and fears of all Russians from then until now.
Number two behind Will. No question. Ability to use the stage, as well as to create dramas, and consummate irony.V 7 Comments
These sound more like advertising slogans than meaningful comment.
Better than all the rest!
One of the best, indeed.
'The Far Side' is his greatest work.
Ah yes, but he owed a great debt to Kliban!
Did obesity affect his later work?
Y isn't he first?! Shakespeare is so boring!
A verbal 'gastronomer' with a vital heartbeat,
Given that the majority of playwrights weren't born thousands of years ago, this is hardly surprising.
'The reek of human blood smiles out at me. '
He created tragedy and in one of few whose work has lasted over thousands of years.
Fugard is the second most performed playwright in history because his stories are relevant and serve to push both political and human narratives.
His plays have a particular pertinence wherever race is an issue.
He is the best play wrigt of the contemporary world. He fought for the humanbeings. Ifwe read his playes of pre and post appartheid time we will surely understand it. P a m rasheed
Pierre often wrote with his feet in a tub of warm water. He claimed it 'stimulated the imaginative capacity'.
Nothing moves me like the plays of Williams. Played by amateurs or professionals, they always seem to work unlike most other plays. The writing is exquisite and the drama, compelling!
Yesterday I watched 'The glass Menagerie' and that once more confirmed my view of Williams as a great dramatic poet.
The poet playwright. One of the greats.
Simply the best!V 5 Comments
Looked down upon by hi-brows but a master of his craft.
Great humour and a wry tolerance of human frailty.
More human beings have seen Neil Simon plays than ANY other playwright in history!
That's #1, numero uno, the Top Dude; even though Shakespeare had a 500 year head start and, certainly, has always been produced and popular. Still, Simon is tops. Live with it!
RIP Mr Simon.V 3 Comments
Don't like the words 'beat him'. What is this, a wrestling match?
Since he is Italian, not many people consider him and his deeply innovative and revolutionary ideology. If read and understood with critical attitude, he turns out to be a genius. Only Aeschylus, Sophocles, Shakespeare and probably Ibsen could beat him.
Ah yes...Italians are always overlooked. just ask Leonardo da Vinci.
Horton discovered England, rescued his village from a pack of rogue bears, and lived to be 152. He died on September, 30. Unknown year.
Of course. Yes. Very convincing. Didn't he also hatch an egg?
Twain wrote no plays. Other writers have dramatized his stories.
Is he dead, the name of one of the funniest plays I ever had the fortune of seeing, may not be as good as shakespeare, but this guy is a genius.
What plays did Mark Twain write?
This is and indication of playing favorites and the sign of the times that I am living in. O'Neill wrote good plays, great plays, and bad plays. But his life work is his life. Reminder that a play doesn't solve all of your problems is something that will make him my creative inspiration and he will be number one on my list.
Perhaps the greatest American playwright. Wrote some of the most intense dramas of the 20th century.
Why is O'Neill not in the top five? How odd.
An obsessive who disowned his children.V 2 Comments
He only wrote a few plays but those inspired many of Shakespeare's plays, without him we might not have the Shakespeare with know today.
This is rather odd logic.
'Hurly Burly' is outstanding. A real tour de force.
Cartoonist and playwright. Interesting combination.
Still relevant after all these years. God bless you, Jules!
Her plays and monologues resemble a poem or a tragic ballad that will cut through your soul and leave you utterly shaken from within. Beautiful, feminine, grotesque and haunting. Sarah Kane is all of this and much more! The discovery is certainly worth it :-)
Her plays were evidence of the mental illness that finally engulfed her.
The blackest night cut by a shaft of moonlight.
Let's not forget brother Peter.
Brecht shaped the modern theater as we know it today, as profoundly as any writer of the entire 20th Century.
His theatrical colleagues complained that he didn't wash and his clothes 'reeked of cigar smoke'.
A literary chameleon in a bright red coat.
An absolute stinker.
I'm so angry that people forgot about Edward Albee. He definitely made Theater of the Absurd more relevant to American culture.
I agree. He is a magnificent playwright, and should be higher up in the list.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? " is brilliant. - Blue_Devereaux
Always highly ambivalent about his 'absurdist' credentials.V 2 Comments
Shaw was a towering figure; deserves to be much further up the list.
Come on: he was a socialist. Rank should not apply.
GB Shaw.. This low... The irony of it
Pygmalion, Man and Superman, Saint Joan!
The fact that she is not first on the list demonstrates the deep sexism that runs rampant through the theatrical world. Shame!
Each play is a category smasher, interweaving different genres and styles.
Has been publically very reticent about her relation to Winston. Why?
Winston disowned her, describing her as 'an obsessive word regurgitator'.V 1 Comment
King of the Absurdists. Should rank much higher.
Ought to be much, much higher. He is a better playwright than Beckett
Ionesco famously engaged in public debate with Ken Tynan - Absurdist Theatre vs Social Realist Theatre. To quote Martin Esslin: 'Tynan rightly argued that he expected what an artist communicated to be true. But Ionesco, in asserting that he was concerned with communicating his personal vision, in no way contradicted Tynan's postulate. The truthful exploration of a psychological, inner reality is in no way less true than the exploration of an outward objective reality. '
Wrote his first play after studying the entrails of a squid. He was on an upward trajectory from there.
A distinct gift for bebop dialogue.
Did he ever crack Minsk?
An object lesson in turning neurosis into art.
One of the founders of the modern theatre, a playwright whom GB Shaw considered 'the only genuinely Shakespearean modern dramatist'.
Really? Nobody bothered to add Mcdonagh.. Pillowman? The Lonesome West? A Skull in Connemara? The Beauty Queen of Leenane? The Cripple of Inishmaan? The Lieutenant of Inishmore? The Banshees of Inisheer? A Behanding in Spokane?
Great narrative skill and a strong grasp of theatrical plasticity.
Irish hijinks with a dash of Grand Guignol.
Brazenly pilfers from Pinter, Mamet and Tarantino with less than stellar results. A bit of a dud.
Living almost solely on a diet of shark-fin soup he pushed his imagination to unprecedented limits.
One of the intelligentsia's favourite literary lancers.
Despite being supressed by the Portuguese Inquisition his work has survived.
Celebrated by his peers for his 'Vicentecisms'.
Not as good as Shakespur.
Heinrich was sometimes short of a dollar, but never short of ideas.
One of Britain's most popular and prolific playwrights - ever.
Even with his warped ideas of 'spiritual inequality', he managed to write great plays.
Muscular dialogue with a pronounced backbeat.
Girish was a good friend of my aunt and she rated him very highly.
Dazzling to some; too clever by half to others.
Intricately perfect plays. Genius.
He once shocked guests at a literary luncheon by wearing his underpants on the outside.
Cowboy poet of broken America.
God bless the 'Lost Boys'.
Related ListsBest British Playwrights Best American Playwrights
10 years, 353 days old
3. William Shakespeare
3. Samuel Beckett
2. Arthur Miller
3. Noel Coward