Saturday, December 07, 2013

A Play Identification Quiz

Last week Sue Van Kirk, a good friend, budding author,  and former literature teacher challenged us  us to identify a list of  major novels based only on their first sentences. 
Here's Sue chowing down at her favorite Phoenix eatery.
She implied that the well read among us would have no trouble doing this and pronounced that it would take 13 out of the 15 to earn an “A” grade from her.   Surely, I thought, Ms. Van Kirk and her friends would also score well on identifying the following major works of dramatic literature based on their first lines. 
I have directed nine of them and have taught them all at some point in time.  Many are iconic works in the canon and should not push you too hard; others may stretch you a bit.  One final hint.  None are musicals, which is no surprise to anyone who knows me.   

1.       “Nothing to be done.”

2.      “If music be the food of love, play on.”

3.      “Yes, I have tricks in my pocket; I have things up my sleeve.”

4.      “Children, youngest brood of Cadmus the Old, why do you sit here with branches in your hand while the air is heavy with lament?”

5.       “The train’s in, thank God. What time is it?”

6.      “Willy?”

7.       “Who’s there?”

8.      “Is that you Petey?” 

9.      “Oh my word, I don’t think they are even up yet.”

10.   “I pray you all give your audience and hear this matter with reverence, by figure a moral play.”

11.    “Oh God for an end to this weary work; a year long I have watched here--head on arm.”

12.    “Jesus H. Christ!”

13.   “Now fair Hippolyta our nuptial hour draws on apace.”

14.   “With one particular horse, called Nugget, he embraces . . .”

15.   “Septimus, what is carnal embrace?”


No Peeking now until you have finished.

I’m an easier grader than Sue so My grading scale:  13-15 Right–  ”A” You are a dramaturgical scholar of the first order. Take a solo call in front of the curtain. 10-12 Right– “B” Almost at the top.  When I went to school this was still considered an excellent grade. Take a solo bow during the cast call.   9-11 Right  “C” You probably didn’t take my theatre history sequence but still a respectable showing. You're at least in the cast call.   7-8 Right– “D”  Not everyone sees or reads classic world drama. As Sue suggested you might try another field. We may still let you pull the curtain and put your name in the program.   Below 7 Right–”F” Your theatre chops are below par. Get thee back to a viewing and/or reading regimen before you try out for Jeopardy. .

Answers: 1 Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot  2 Wiliam Shakespeare Twelfth Night 3 Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie 4 Sophocles Oedipus Rex 5 Anton Chekov The Cherry Orchard 6 Arthur Miller Death of a Salesman (If you missed this one your are truly in need of further instruction) 7 William Shakespeare Hamlet  8 Harold Pinter The Birthday Party 9 Henrik Ibsen Hedda Gabler  10  Everyman  11 Aeschylus Agamemnon  12 Edward Albee Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf  13  William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream  14  Peter Shaffer Equus  15  Tom Stoppard Arcadia
To the winner goes the balloon.


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