One of the most ambitious dramatic poems ever written, Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound tells the story of the Titan Prometheus who gave mankind the secret of fire in open defiance to the... More > decrees of Zeus, and who, as punishment for this generosity, was chained to the Caucasus Mountains and exposed to horrible tortures. Inspired by the Prometheus Bound of Aeschylus, Shelley's play serves as a sort of sequel, matching its Greek predecessor in stature and pure poetic power. It depicts its philanthropist hero's ultimate triumph over the superstition and bigotry of the gods. As Shelley himself stated in his Defence of Poetry, Prometheus Unbound awakens and enlarges the mind.< Less
Written while Machiavelli was in exile for allegedly plotting against the Medici clan, "The Mandrake" or "Mandragola" details the corruption of Italian society in a series of... More > increasingly comical scenes that culminate in the cuckolding of a powerful Florentine aristocrat. The author depicts human nature just as he has come to know it, and the sinister fruits of his studies have delighted audiences to this day, for we recognize our own failures in Machiavelli’s creations--characters too quick to compromise personal ethics in order to accommodate a corrupt and demeaning world, too easily persuaded to lie, cheat, swindle, and deceive, or close their eyes to deception, in order to ensure some small improvement in their miserable lives, always espousing the mantra that "the end justifies the means." "The Mandrake" is a powerful comic treatise on immorality, a diagnosis of cultural disease, and perhaps the finest surviving example of the Italian Renaissance comedy of intrigue.< Less
Hamlet: A One-Act Play
Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play, and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language. This version condenses his masterpiece into a forty minute one-act play. Perfect... More > for in-class reading or high school and college productions, it retains all of the famous scenes and characters that have made Hamlet Shakespeare’s most popular play, exposing new students to one of the masterpieces of modern literature in about the time it takes to watch a TV sitcom.< Less
He Who Gets Slapped and Other Plays
Leonid Andreyev was once considered one of Russia's greatest dramatists, but his opposition to the Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist government's unilateral support of naturalism on the stage... More > conspired to undermine his career. He was imprisoned, died in poverty, and has become increasingly obscure.
Andreyev is symbolic and romantic. Fate and Chance are the two dark, unknown, at times brutal forces which dwell ever before his mind's eye. He sees human beings in the form of ghosts and ghosts in the form of human beings.
Andreyev's best-known play, “He Who Gets Slapped” tells the story of a famous writer who takes a job as a circus clown in order to escape his past. In this carnival of human outcasts, Andreyev fashions a meaningful portrait of an intellectual’s struggle to exist in a world ruled by Fate, Chance, and the almighty dollar.
Also included are two extraordinarily haunting plays adapted from Andreyev's short stories: “Call of the Revolution” and “The Serpent's Tale.”< Less