In a memory play, a character narrates events from their past, drawing from their own memories of what happened. The narrator is also often a character in their memory play.
There’s a separate section at the bottom for additional plays that wouldn’t be classed as a memory play, but have memory as a theme.
Find a Memory Play
I hope you find a great memory play here.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage
Godfrey Crumps’s wife has died. He was helped over his grief by a blessing through the mail from Father Divine. Wanting to be near Father Divine’s Peace Mission, Godfrey moved to Brooklyn along with his daughters, Ernestine and Ermina, seventeen and fifteen, respectively. Soon, the family is joined by their aunt Lily, who has a strong sense of individuality. After a while, Godfrey remarries.
The first few scenes of this play can be read in the preview of Crumbs from the Table of Joy and Other Plays.
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (7 Scenes)
Tom and Laura, young adults, live with their mother, Amanda. She is critical of Tom, and worried that Amanda cannot support herself and doesn’t have any gentleman callers. She wants Tom to bring home a young man from work.
Tennessee Williams coined the term memory play for this work.
Children of a Lesser God by Mark Medoff (3 Acts)
James works at a school for the deaf as a speech teacher. He begins a relationship with Sarah, the cleaning woman, who is deaf. Sarah and James struggle to live in both the hearing and deaf worlds.
The Trials of Brother Jero by Wole Soyinka (3 Acts)
Brother Jeroboam, a “beach preacher”– a preacher who doesn’t have a church – relates the events of a memorable day. He manipulates and maintains control over his assistant, Chume, and things come to a head.
Plays About Memory
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (2 Acts)
Willy Loman is a 63 year old traveling salesman. He returns home early after canceling a trip to Boston. His wife, Linda, is concerned about his mental health and the strain of his job. She wants him to request a non-traveling position. Their two son’s, Biff and Happy, both in their 30s, are visiting. Willy is disappointed that they haven’t made anything of themselves, particularly Biff. Biff plans on asking a former employer for a job.
The beginning of this play can be read in the preview of Death of a Salesman: Revised Edition. (44% in)
Getting Out by Marsha Norman (2 Acts)
Arlene is granted parole after serving eight years for the murder of a cab driver. She moves into a dingy Kentucky apartment. Bennie, a guard at her facility, drives her there and lugs her trunk up the stairs. He asks her about her preferences for the place, but she doesn’t care. Interspersed with the present action are scenes of Arlene (Arlie) when she was younger. We see some of her life before and during her prison sentence.
Some of the first act can be read in the preview of Marsha Norman Collected Plays. (11% in)
Come Back, Little Sheba by William Inge (2 Acts)
Doc is a chiropractor and recovering alcoholic. His wife, Lola, is a former beauty but is now fat and untidy. They both long for the past. They have a boarder, Marie, who is engaged and also involved with another man.
Hot l Baltimore by Lanford Wilson (3 Acts)
The residents of a hotel are notified that it’s being torn down; they have a month to leave. Some of the residents include two prostitutes, a hustler and her brother, an argumentative old man, and a college student. They figure out what they’re going to do.
Da by Hugh Leonard
Charlie is back in his childhood home after the death of his adoptive father. He sorts through his things, talks to a representation of him, and remembers events from life.
I hope you found a great memory play or play about memory.