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May 11, 2016

Top 10 Plays About Epic Journeys


Road trips, nations at war, Greek mythology and even aliens fill the pages of our latest Top Ten List. Heroes comes in many different forms and the obstacles and they encounter can vary from life-threatening dangers to personal struggles of identity. To triumph over these obstacles, heroes must begin journeys involving strength, bravery, and introspection as they face the world around them.

From the page to the stage, these plays will engage and excite readers and audiences alike. Pick up any of these scripts to embark on an adventure of courage and wit! Check them out below.

Battle Hymn by Jim Leonard Jr.
Follow the story of 16-year-old Martha’s epic pregnancy and her incredible search for motherhood, meaning, and love in a war-torn American landscape. After being abandoned by her father, losing her true love and witnessing the horrors of the Civil War firsthand, Martha settles on one incontrovertible fact: She will not raise her baby in a blood-soaked, violent country. And so, Martha keeps traveling in search of a better world and a safe place to bring forth her child… this is easier said than done. From the mud and the blood of Fort Sumter to singing cows, San Francisco and the summer of love, Martha’s journey embodies the tragedy, humor and hope that have helped shape the last 150 years of U.S. history. 4m, 1f

Father Comes Home From The Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3 by Suzan-Lori Parks
Offered his freedom if he joins his master in the ranks of the Confederacy, Hero, a slave, must choose whether to leave the woman and people he loves for what may be yet another empty promise. As his decision brings him face-to-face with a nation at war with itself, the loved ones Hero left behind debate whether to escape or wait for his return… only to discover that for Hero, free will may have come at a great spiritual cost. Father Comes Home From The Wars is an explosively powerful drama about the mess of war, the cost of freedom, and the heartbreak of love, with all three parts seen in one night. Part 1 introduces us to Hero, a slave who must choose whether or not to join his master on the Confederate battlefield. In Part 2, a band of rebel soldiers test Hero’s loyalty as the cannons approach. Part 3 finds Hero’s loved ones anxiously awaiting his return. 8m, 2f

Pretty Theft by Adam Szymkowicz
A play about ballerinas, boxes and the dangers of beauty. After losing her father, Allegra falls under the wing of bad girl Suzy, only to find an unexpected friendship with Joe, an autistic savant. When things take a violent turn, Allegra and Suzy escape cross country and befriend Marco, a mysterious thief who claims he cannot be caught. 3m, 4f

California Odyssey by Jack Frakes
A romantic comedy (with a touch of fantasy and myth) about the hopes, struggles, and adventures of Corky, Tad, and Jinx, on a day-an-a-half trip from San Francisco to San Diego. Tad, a serious, practical “desert rat,” eager to get to his sister’s wedding on time, is traveling with his cousin and friend, Corky, a slightly zany “beach bum” and talented photographer. The trip is complicated when they encounter Jinx, a charming young woman, who is seeking her father, a rodeo man, to write his story for a movie. Squabbles over the journey, fears from a hitchhiker, a rescue from an old Prospector, who was the friend of her father’s, temptations over opening a Treasure Box given to Jinx, and romance between Jinx and the two young men cause delays, adventures…and fun. 8m, 9f

Everything You Touch by Sheila Callaghan
Victor is a ruthless fashion designer in the 1970s at the top of his game. Esme, his glamorous protégé and muse, is pushed aside when an ordinary Midwestern woman inspires Victor to make his artistry accessible to the masses. A generation later, a woman grappling with a healthy dose of self-loathing must wrestle her own family demons to find her way through the world of fashion that won’t give a woman her size a second look. Skipping back and forth in time, Everything You Touch is a viciously funny look at the struggle to find an identity that’s more than skin deep. 2m, 6f

Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht, translated by Eric Bentley
Brecht-follows Mother Courage and her children through twelve years of the holy war of the early seventeenth century through Sweden, Poland, Finland, Bavaria, and Italy. Mother Courage’s first son is a dolt, but he makes a dashing soldier and plunderer. Her second son is honest, and he meets an early death from a firing squad. His name is Swiss Cheese. So now Mother Courage and her dumb daughter follow the armies with their wagon and wares, as first one side then another wins. They acquire in their train a chaplain and a cook. Until, one day, peace is declared. But it is too brief. The plundering soldier son is brought to shame, and the daughter who would be married is shot instead. War is resumed; for it seems that, like love, it is perpetual. 18m, 5f

The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden by Thornton Wilder
A father, mother and two of their three surviving children drive from Newark, New Jersey to Camden to visit their married daughter, who has recently lost her baby in childbirth. Their journey is punctuated by talk, laughter, memories (some mundane, some happy, some painful), and appreciation of the Now – ham and eggs, flowers, family, sunsets and the joy of being alive. In this family drama, nothing much happens-and yet everything important happens. As Ma Kirby says, “There’s nothin’ like bein’ liked by your family.” 3m, 3f

The Illiad, The Odyssey and all of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less by Jay Hopkins, John Hunter, Homer
On a simple stage, with the clock ticking in front of everyone’s eyes, the cast speeds through all of Greek Mythology. It’s funny, updated and made easy to understand. The Gods walk the Red Carpet. The Creation of Mankind is a botched subcontractor’s job. Man and Pandora try settling down despite an ominous wedding gift. Love stories are a dating show and the Greek Tragedies are sports highlights! And don’t forget the two greatest stories ever told, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Kidnap Helen of Troy and you’ve got a 10 year slap-fight of epic proportions with pouty Achilles, war-hungry Agamemnon, and clever Odysseus, destined to wander the seas for 10 more years fighting giants, seductresses and the Gods themselves. All the silly decisions, the absurd destinies, and the goofy characters are presented lightning-bolt fast with hysterical results as the clock is stopped with only seconds to spare. 3m, 2f

Unwanted Adventure by Brandon Johnson
All average teenager Beth wanted to do was go to sleep, but due to a case of mistaken identity, she gets caught up in an adventure to save the planet, and has to deal with a cocky narrator that she can’t reason with, and is never seen. 5m, 2f

Aliens with Extraordinary Skills by Saviana Stanescu
A dark comedy about a clown from the “unhappiest country in the world”, Moldova, who pins her hopes on a US work visa. Chased by Homeland Security, a deportation letter deflates Nadia’s enthusiasm and a pair of spike heels might be all it takes to burst her American Dream (or turn it into a nightmare…). New York City, with its special energy, seems like the perfect solution for her problems, but is it really? Luckily, Nadia is not alone in her journey. Aliens with Extraordinary Skills is based on true stories of immigration explored and fictionalized by a playwright who tries to understand her own story. The moral of the “fable” might be that – regardless our passport and native language – we are all “aliens” in search for love, understanding and a place to call “home”.

Photo: Cast of Mother Courage & Her Children at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane, 2013. Credit: Rob Maccoll.