I'm a huge Shakespeare fan, but looking at his list of plays, I've only read or seen about 1/3 of them. I figure this is a good way to read some of his deep tracks and b-sides. If it's okay with you all, I'm proposing we read two plays, since they'll each only take 2-3 hours to read. (unless you are determined to understand what everything means, then it will take a little longer). And if you don't have time for two, then just read one of them.
So here's a list of 6 comedies and 6 tragedies. Let's treat each one as it's own category, so your top comedy pick will get 6 points, same with your top tragedy pick. And perhaps our meeting can include not a few performances...
For anyone new to the voting process, click the "manifesto" link at the top.
All's Well That Ends Well is a play by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1604 and 1605, and was originally published in the First Folio in 1623.
Though originally the play was classified as a comedy, the play is now considered by some critics to be one of his problem plays, so named because they cannot be neatly classified as tragedy or comedy.There is no evidence that All's Well was popular in Shakespeare's own lifetime, and it has remained one of his lesser-known plays ever since, in part due to its odd mixture of fairy tale logic and cynical realism.
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle's court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and eventually love in the Forest of Arden.
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was (and continues to be) classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labeled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623 (where it was first labeled as a comedy), the play's first recorded performance was in 1604. The play deals with the issues of mercy, justice, and truth and their relationship to pride and humility: "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".
Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601-02 as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play expanded on the musical interludes and riotous disorder expected of such an occasion, with plot elements drawn from the short story "Of Apollonius and Silla" by Barnabe Rich, based on a story by Matteo Bandello.
The title Twelfth Night, or What You Will, prepares the audience for its jovial feel of festivities consisting of drink, dance, and giving in to general self-indulgence. The subtitle What You Will implies that the audience is also involved in the merry spirit found in the play.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1590 or 1591. It is considered by some to be Shakespeare's first play, and is often seen as his first tentative steps in laying out some of the themes and tropes with which he would later deal in more detail; for example, it is the first of his plays in which a heroine dresses as a boy.
The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623. Although it was grouped among the comedies, some modern editors have relabeled the play as one of Shakespeare's late romances. Some critics consider it to be one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", because the first three acts are filled with intense psychological drama, while the last two acts are comedic and supply a happy ending.
Cymbeline (pronounced /ˈsɪmbɨliːn/) is a play by William Shakespeare, based on legends concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus. Although listed as a tragedy in the First Folio, modern critics often classify Cymbeline as aromance. Like Othello, Measure for Measure, and The Winter's Tale, it deals with the themes of innocence and jealousy. While the precise date of composition remains unknown, the play was certainly produced as early as 1611.
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623.
Many consider the role of Cleopatra in this play one of the most complex female roles in Shakespeare's work. She is frequently vain and histrionic, provoking an audience almost to scorn; at the same time, Shakespeare's efforts invest both her and Antony with tragic grandeur. These contradictory features have led to famously divided critical responses.
Coriolanus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The last of Shakespeare's great political tragedies, chronicling the life of the mighty warrior Caius Marcius Coriolanus. It covers many issues including pride of coming before a fall. The ambitious mother of of the hero plays a large part in his initial successes. Coriolanus supports the old patrician ways and is totally out of tune with the needs of the ordinary people.
Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BCE conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi. It is one of several Roman plays that Shakespeare wrote, based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.
Titus Andronicus may be Shakespeare's earliest tragedy; it is believed to have been written in the early 1590s. It depicts a Roman general who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with his enemy Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. The play is by far Shakespeare's bloodiest work. It lost popularity during the Victorian era because of its gore, and it has only recently seen its fortunes revive.
Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. The play (also described as one of Shakespeare's problem plays) is not a conventional tragedy, since its protagonist (Troilus) does not die. Throughout the play, the tone lurches wildly between bawdy comedy and tragic gloom, and readers and theatre-goers have frequently found it difficult to understand how one is meant to respond to the characters. However, several characteristic elements of the play (the most notable being its constant questioning of intrinsic values such as hierarchy, honor and love) have often been viewed as distinctly "modern."