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Plays About Change or Transformation

These plays have characters dealing with a significant change, either personally or in their environment. See also:

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, intending to start a new life. 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)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (5 Acts)

After a show one night, Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering have a run in with a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle. Higgins is a phonetics expert; he claims that with three months of tutoring he could pass that girl off as a member of high society. The next day Liza shows up at Higgins’ place to begin.

The Emperor Jones by Eugene O’Neill (1 Act)

Brutus Jones is the self-proclaimed emperor of a West Indian island. A former chief, Lem, is leading the preparations for an attack. Jones has an escape plan and believes he can handle the threat.

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.

The Family Reunion by T. S. Eliot (2 Parts)

Amy, a widow, is in her drawing room with her three sisters and two of their husbands. Amy’s son Harry is returning after being estranged for eight years. Harry’s wife died about a year ago when she was swept off a ship. When Harry arrives he expresses some opinions that concern his family, including a revelation about his wife’s death. His mental state is questionable. Amy hopes that Harry will continue the family estate.

Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies (2 Acts)

Gabe and Karen invite Beth and Tom over for dinner. Beth explains that Tom was suddenly called out of town. They talk about a recent vacation. Beth eventually breaks down, telling her friends that Tom has left her. Both couples try to make sense of what happened and get the details of the split.

Seascape by Edward Albee (2 Acts)

An older couple nearing retirement, Nancy and Charlie, are at the beach. Nancy would like to travel and have adventures. Charlie wants to stay home. There’s some tension about their past, and they argue about how they should spend their time. Leslie and Sarah, human-sized lizards, approach the couple.

The Wash by Philip Kan Gotanda

Masi has left her husband, Nobu, after 42 years, and starts seeing another man, Sadao. Nobu has traditional Japanese values and beliefs about the role of women, while Sadao is more open. Masi still does Nobu’s laundry. Their two daughters have differing views on the split.

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