Famous playwrights from around the world - Part 2

  • May 6, 2020
  • Theatre in Paris exclusives
  • Aysha Ferullo

The theatre scene, past and present, is bursting with playwrights that we admire from all across the globe. Last week, we shared with you some of our favourites, but understandably couldn’t fit all of them in! Here are some other playwrights whose works we admire.

Germany: Brecht

Bertold Brecht has been of great influence to the world of theatre, both with his plays and his practice. Brecht lived in exile in Scandinavia and the USA during World War II. It was upon his return to East Berlin after the war that Brecht created the Berliner Ensemble with his wife and actress Helene Weigel. Brecht would frequently collaborate with Weigel, as well as with the composer Hanns Eisler. He was a notable practitioner of Epic Theatre, a form of theatre aiming to enable an audience to see life and politics for what they truly are. Brecht then went on to make the Verfremdungseffekt popular, a means of breaking the fourth wall in performance. Brecht’s most notable works include The Threepenny Opera (written with Kurt Weil), The Good Person of Szechwan and Life of Galileo. Still today, there is a statue of Brecht outside the Berliner Ensemble, why not take a trip and see it for yourself?

Our favourite Brecht play: Mother Courage and Her Children

Italy: Pirandello

It’s no surprise that Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello earns a spot on our list, being one of the country’s most treasured theatrical presences in history. Sicilian-born Pirandello was known for his tragic farces (evocative of the theatre of the absurd), as well as his comedies. Over the course of his career, he wrote 40 plays, as well as many novels and hundreds of short stories. In 1934, Pirandello was even awarded the Nobel prize for literature for his remarkable ability to turn psychological analysis into a piece of theatre. The vast majority of his plays were translated into English by Robert Rietti, an actor of Anglo-Italian descent. Pirandello’s most notable works include Liolà, How You Love Me and The Man with the Flower in his Mouth.

Our favourite Pirandello play: Each in His Own Way (Ciascuno a suo modo)

Russia: Gogol

Next on our list is Russia’s Nikolai Gogol, an author most famous for The Nose, The Carriage and Marriage. Being of Ukrainian descent, Gogol spoke both Russian and Ukrainian and as a child would even use his uncle’s home theatre to stage plays in the latter. Known in school as a ‘mysterious dwarf’, Gogol was not popular amongst his classmates, rendering him reserved and secretive, all the while heightening his ambition. His first published works were a successful collection of Ukrainian short stories in 1831 at the age of 22, entitled Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka. Gogol eventually decided to move to Rome after travelling Europe, developing a passion for the culture and art of the Italian capital. 

Our favourite Gogol play: The Gamblers

Romania/France: Ionesco

Last but not least, we’re paying tribute to the beloved Eugène Ionesco. While Ionesco was a playwright of Romanian and French descent, his works were predominantly written in French – in fact, he was one of the most prominent figures in the French Avant-garde theatre. It was in France itself that he was known to have received an initial burst of inspiration when he was strolling in the sunshine one day, being particularly struck by a bright light, letting it carry him away. When he ‘returned’ to the ground, it enabled him to see the darkness of the real world and highlighted to him that death ultimately takes us all in the end. Ionesco then went on to study French literature at the University of Bucharest before he married Rodica Burileanu in 1936, shortly after graduating. His daughter then became the muse of many of his short stories, before he began a career in writing. Ionesco began his theatre career later in life with the publication of La Cantatrice Chauve in 1948.

Our favourite Ionesco play: The Lesson 

Tip: If you want to learn more about Ionesco, you can check out our blog article on him and his life!

Feeling inspired? Book tickets to see an Ionesco play in Paris