Famous playwrights from around the world

  • April 29, 2020
  • Parisian theatre
  • Aysha Ferullo

Throughout history, we’ve been spoilt for choice at the number of playwrights we’ve seen grace the world of theatre from all four corners of the globe, each offering something unique to the craft. Their works are timeless, their distinct twists unforgettable. The beauty of the theatre is that these works are constantly being interpreted in new and innovative ways, and languages, keeping them alive and allowing them to travel the world. We still believe it’s important to honour where these works of theatre all began – the writing. We’ve decided to round up our favourite playwrights from all across the world.

France: Molière

We wouldn’t be able to talk about our favourite playwrights without including Paris’ very own, Molière. Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, Molière is actually just a stage name, however, one that holds great significance in the French language, often referred to as the ‘language of Molière.’ He started out as an actor, which sufficiently prepared him for his life of theatre writing to come. Molière is known to combine refined French comedy with a twist of Italian commedia dell’arte, rendering his theatrical tone compelling and distinct. While tragedy was Molière’s preferred genre of theatre, his farces were also incredibly popular amongst the French public, often performed as a single-act comic relief after tragedy performances. While France is home to many of the world’s best playwrights that have shaped theatre as we know it today, it’s safe to say that the influence of Molière is one of the greatest the world of theatre has seen.

Our favourite Molière play: The Miser (L’Avare). In fact, it was recently playing at Théâtre Ranelagh, to rave reviews! Keep your eyes peeled for Molière performances to come.

Japan: Mishima

Venturing East, we now find ourselves considering the works of Yukio Mishima, a Tokyo-born playwright, poet, actor, model and film director – a true jack of all trades! Mishima’s literary journey began when he started writing stories of his own at the tender age of twelve. He was greatly influenced by authors such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Oscar Wilde, as well as classical Japanese authors. Mishima’s literature is known for its rich description and interest in the unity of death, beauty and eroticism, all the while combining traditional Japanese literary styles with more contemporary Western literary styles. In his life, Mishima wrote 50 plays, 24 novels, 25 short story collections, 35 essay collections and one film. His most famous works include Confessions of a Mask, Thirst for Love, After the Banquet and Madame de Safe. 

Our favourite Yukio Mishima play: The Lady Aoi

Greece: Aristophanes

Taking it back to 446BC Athens, we have the birth of another one of our favourite playwrights: Aristophanes. With a total of eleven of his 40 plays surviving today, we’re able to gain a great insight into the career of the ‘father of comedy’. Aristophanes’ plays, belonging to the ‘old comedy’ genre (a genre of comic drama), often detailed and satirised political events occurring at the time. He was also known to caricature political figures, such as populist Cleon, as well as fellow artists, such as Euripides. Surviving the Peloponnesian War, two oligarchic revolutions and two democratic restorations, it’s no wonder the great Greek playwright had so much writing material!

Our favourite Aristophanes play: Lysistrata 

England: Shakespeare

Last but no means least, we have William Shakespeare. Born in Stratford Upon Avon in Warwickshire, Shakespeare was one of eight children and father to three. Shakespeare is undeniably one of the most successful playwrights to ever live, with theatres and schools being dedicated to him today – his works have been translated into every living language and are more performed than those of any other playwright in history. Shakespeare was known for his varying genres, that are commonly grouped into tragedy, comedy, romance and history, with comedy being the richest genre. Between 1590 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote an estimated 154 sonnets, 6 long poems and 38 plays. His most notable works include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Othello. Last week, we even celebrated his birthday – check out our blog post and honour the Bard with us!

Our favourite Shakespeare play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream