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Open Ended Plays: Ambiguous Endings

These plays leave room for interpretation in the ending. There might be a strong argument for a particular extrapolation, but there’s some uncertainty. We aren’t told or shown exactly what happens, or an important conflict isn’t explicitly settled.

Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman (3 Acts)

The dictatorship has ended and a democratic government now rules. A married couple, Paulina and Gerardo, are living at their beach house. Late one night, Gerardo’s car gets a flat and he gets a ride home from a passing motorist, Miranda. He returns later to talk. Paulina thinks she recognizes him from the old regime.

Doubt by John Patrick Shanley (9 Acts)

Sister Aloysius is the principal of St. Nicholas School. She has a meeting with Sister James, an eight grade teacher, and asks her to be alert when it comes to Father Flynn and his time alone with the boys.

Right You Are, If You Think You Are by Luigi Pirandello (3 Acts)

The Agazzi family are discussing a social affront they suffered from a newcomer to the neighborhood, Signora Frola, who wouldn’t see them when they called on her. On a second visit, they were again rebuffed by her son-in-law, Ponza. They’re curious about his wife, who stays inside. Others arrive and add to the speculation. They then get a visit from Signora Frola herself, who explains her behavior. Soon after, Ponza visits and gives a different explanation of what is going on.

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