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Plays About Death, Grief or Loss

Plays About Death Grief Loss
Plays About Death, Grief or Loss

These plays about death, grief or loss have characters who are grieving over a loss, often a death.

Plays About Death, Grief or Loss

Wit by Margaret Edson

Vivian Bearing, a 50 year old professor of poetry, is in the hospital dying of ovarian cancer. We see her attitude through her diagnosis and treatment, as well as how others react to her. She has a love of language and deals with her diagnosis intellectually.

The beginning of this play can be read in the preview of Wit.

The Bear by Anton Chekhov (1 Act)

Popova is still mourning the death of her husband from seven months ago. Her elderly servant, Luka, urges her to go to a ball, or at least to go outside. Even though her husband wasn’t always good to her, Popova is determined to be faithful forever.

This play can be read in the preview of Delphi Complete Works of Anton Chekhov. (62% in)

The Persians by Aeschylus

King Xerxes of Persia is away leading the war effort against the Greeks. Atossa, the Queen Mother, waits for news of the battle. A messenger eventually arrives with a report on the Battle of Salamis.

This play can be read in the preview of The Greek Plays: Sixteen Plays by . . . (27% in)

Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams (1 Act)

Heather, a fifth-grade teacher, sits at her desk grading papers. The classroom is empty. There’s a knock at the door. It’s Corryn, a mother who has a parent/teacher conference. Heather directs her to the office to find the right room. Corryn comes back, saying this is the room. Heather doesn’t have anything scheduled. Corryn says it’s about her son, Gidion. Heather is shocked; she thought the appointment was off, even though it wasn’t actually canceled.

Some of this play can be read in the preview of Plays by Women from the Contemporary American Theatre Festival(30% in)

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

Plays About Death, Grief or Loss, Cont’d

Riders to the Sea by J. M. Synge (1 Act)

Maurya’s husband and five of her six sons have died at sea. Her remaining son, Bartley, plans to sail to the mainland to sell horses. Maurya and her daughters lives are infused with their Catholic beliefs and superstitions.

Our Town by Thornton Wilder (3 Acts)

It is small-town New Hampshire in 1901. We see a typical day in the lives of the Webb and Gibbs families. They work, take care of the home, gossip, and marry. A Stage Manager comments on the story.

Time Flies by David Ives

Horace and May, mayflies, arrive at May’s pond. Horace has seen May home after they met at a party. May invites Horace to stay, and they talk about some of the events from their very short lives. They have a drink and watch television, where they see something surprising.

Burn This by Lanford Wilson (2 Acts)

Anna and Larry have just attended the funeral of their roommate, Robbie. There’s some distance between Anna and her boyfriend, Burton. Robbie’s older brother, Pale, comes by one night drunk and obnoxious.

The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer

There are three terminally ill patients. Joe focuses on helping his wife, Maggie, deal with his death. Brian notices that people are in denial over his condition. Felicity is pessimistic and losing her grip on reality. They talk to an interviewer about their situations.

Bury the Dead by Irwin Shaw (1 Act)

During an unidentified war, soldiers dig a collective grave for their fallen comrades. The dead stand up, refusing to be buried. Many people try to convince them to change their minds—religious figures, superior officers and family.

I’ll keep adding plays about death, grief and loss as I find more.

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