The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age

Despite the internet and television’s dominance over the modern entertainment industry, theatre remains one of the strongest and means of transmitting emotions to the public. Yet, good theatre usually implies eccentric personalities. Here are 10 of the strangest, darkest and most brilliant names in theatre. 

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 10. August Strindberg

Very few of his plays have a happy ending. In “The Father”, “Miss Julie” and “Creditors”, the Swedish master created naturalistic and realistic dramas heavily influenced by the style and writing system of Emile Zola. Imperfect characters would disintegrate under the viewer’s eyes due to their own hereditary faults. Also, Strindberg was a well-known misogynist and was not afraid to express his view through his work.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 9. Maxim Gorky

A follower of the realistic school of theater, Maxim Gorky is said to have visited homeless shelters offering booze to anyone who would tell him interesting stories. His second play, “The Lower Depths”, is a bleak portrayal of the trials and tribulations of impoverished Russians living in a shelter near the Volga. Despite initial criticism, “The Lower Depths” became one of Gorky’s best known plays.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 8. Manjula Padmanabhan

Despite writing only 5 plays until now, Manjula has already made a name for herself. “Harvest”, for example, is a sci-fi play about an impoverished population willing to sell parts of their bodies to wealthy foreigners in exchange for material goods.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 7. Brendan Behan

Brendan’s life mirrors the dark outlook of his plays. As a member of the Irish Republican Army, he was arrested while attempting to blow-up strategic parts of Liverpool in the name of his cause. Due to this unsuccessful attack, he has spent 3 years in jail. Once out, he was re-arrested for an assassination attempt. His most famous play, “The Quare Fellow”, portrays a scene out of the life of several inmates of the Mountjoy Prison. Most of the play revolves around the prisoners talking about the impending execution of one of their colleagues, but the play becomes increasingly darker as the execution date is getting closer.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 6. Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller might seem as a strange addition to this list, partially due to the fact that his dark side is more subtle than most of the others. Plays like “Death of a Salesman”, “All my Sons” and “View from the Bridge” are more than enough to win him a respectable place on this list. His description of life’s futility has a haunting, lingering quality.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 5. Howard Barker

Howard Barker is known as the creator of the “Theater of Catastrophe” due to the way he portrays horrific historical events. Though using some of the same instruments as the realists, Barker disagrees with the theory that a play should produce the same reaction in all of the viewers. He believed that there are multiple truths when it comes to theater and that the audience should be allowed to take what they please from the play.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 4. John-Paul Sartre

Sartre is one of the great existentialist thinkers. In fact, he became so influential that the Catholic Church attempted to ban his works entirely in 1948. Above all else, he was tortured by the idea of the futility of human life and human effort. The centerpiece of his thought is that humans beings are “condemned to be free” in a Universe without a Creator. One of his most famous plays, “Huis-clos”, displays the idea of people as self-torturers.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 3. Peter Weiss

Weiss is known not only for the content of his plays, usually dealing with controversial social or historical problems, but also for their extremely long titles. “The Persecution and Assassination of John-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade” is just one example.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 2. Samuel Beckett

Along with Miller, Beckett is one of the most appreciated playwrights of the century. Despite his surrealist tendencies and minimalist aspirations, Beckett resented being labeled as a member of any particular artistic category. One of his most interesting plays, “Endgame”, describes the final experiences of a group of people confronted with the end of the world.

The 10 Darkest Playwrights of the Modern Age 1. Sarah Kane

Though she only wrote 6 plays before her death in 1999, Sarah Kane became one of the leading figures of the British literary movement. The violent content of her work, which includes scenes of racial abuse and psychological torture, made her unpopular with the mainstream of the theater world, but her plays became increasingly appreciated after her death.



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