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Plays That Are Allegories, Parables or Fables

These plays can all be interpreted as allegories, parables or fables. Often, that was the playwright’s intention. Also included are plays that can reasonably be given that type of reading, whether it was intentionally done or not.

The Man Who Had All the Luck: A Fable by Arthur Miller (3 Acts)

David is a mechanic working out of a barn. He’s planning on talking to Hester’s father, Andrew, even though he’s been putting it off for seven years. Andrew doesn’t like David and controls his daughter. David gets some advice about what to do. A rich farmer brings his tractor to David for a difficult repair. A successful fix would be a boon to his business. David is discouraged by the complexity of the job, and a confrontation with Andrew.

This play can be read in the preview of The Penguin Arthur Miller: Collected Plays. (10% in)

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.

Dutchman by Amiri Baraka (2 Scenes)

Clay, a young black man, is riding the subway. Lula, a white woman in revealing clothes and eating an apple, boards the train. She openly flirts with Clay and behaves unpredictably.

Everyman by Anonymous (1 Act)

Everyman is being called before God for a reckoning. Everyman seeks others to accompany him on his journey such as Fellowship, Kindred and Goods.

The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht

Shen Teh, a prostitute, agrees to provide lodging for three gods. Before they leave, they pay her a generous sum, which she uses to buy a tobacconist shop. Due to her newfound success, she is soon beset with requests for help and various payments. Her cousin, Shui Ta, arrives and helps with the business. He cuts off the handouts. Shen Teh continues to be imposed upon.

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.

The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder (3 Acts)

We’re informed of some theatre news and world news, as well as the fact that Mr. George Antrobus has invented the wheel. It’s set in the Antrobus home in New Jersey. The maid, Sabina, gives a speech to the audience. A dinosaur and mammoth are in the house. George comes home and brings some wanderers with him.

The Purple Flower by Marita Bonner (1 Act)

The Us’s live in the valley while the White Devils live on the hill. The Flower-of-Life-at-Its-Fullest only grows on the hill. The Us’s want to get on the hill, and talk about whether they can do that. The White Devil’s try to prevent this from happening. The Us’s have differing opinions on how to improve their situation.

Los Vendidos by Luis Valdez

Honest Sancho is the owner of Honest Sancho’s Used Mexican Lot and Mexican Curio Shop. He has three models—the Farmworker, the Panchuco and the Revolucionario. A customer, Miss Jimenez, is looking for a “Mexican type” for some administrative work. Sancho describes the traits of his models.

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