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Plays That Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

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)

Beyond the Horizon by Eugene O’Neill (3 Acts)

Robert and Andy live on the Mayo family farm. Robert is a reader and is drawn to life off the farm. He’s leaving tomorrow on a sea voyage with his uncle. Andy is strong and loves farm life. They both love Ruth, who lives on the neighboring farm. She comes to visit for Robert’s farewell. Her comments throw a wrench into everyone’s plans.

The first act of this play can be read in the preview of Plays of Eugene O’Neill. (3% in)

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.

Alison’s House by Susan Glaspell (3 Acts)

After the death of Alison Stanhope, a renowned poet, her family and the family secretary are clearing out her house before it is sold. A reporter, Knowles, a devotee of Alison’s work, also visits the house, hoping to see Alison’s room. There is some disagreement among the family over whether Alison’s privacy should be protected or her life’s details be opened to the public.

The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan (9 Plays of 1 Act Each)

This family epic spans two hundred years. It begins with Michael Rowen, an Irish immigrant who lost his family in a Cherokee attack. He plots to gain land and another family. The story continues with Rowen’s son Patrick, his grandson Jed, a long-term rivalry with the Talberts and more.

Buried Child by Sam Shepard (3 Acts)

Dodge and Halie, an elderly couple, live on an unproductive farm. They have two sons—Tilden and Bradley and are visited by their grandson (Tilden’s son), Vince, and his girlfriend, Shelly. Another son, Ansel, was murdered years ago. Vince’s family doesn’t recognize him. There’s a terrible family secret that they’ve had to live with.

They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard (3 Acts)

Tony is about sixty years old and has a farmhouse in Napa Valley. He’s on his way to the train station to pick up his bride-to-be, Amy, a young woman he’s been corresponding with. They’re to be married today, although they’ve never met in person. Tony saw her from a distance in San Francisco and managed to get her contact details. Tony’s foreman, Joe, wrote he letters for him because his English is better. There’s an incident involving Tony on his way to the station. Amy also gets a surprise when she arrives.

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