Meyerhold Ernst Toller

Surrealism-Plays is a site devoted to the history and creative works of the Surrealist Movement, as well as the anti-tradition of avant-garde theatre.


Here is an extensive list of books containing avant-garde plays and information on the history of avant-garde theatre. Most can be found on and other Internet book sites, while a few out of print gems will require a more determined search.


Collections of Avant-Garde Plays
Selected Books About Avant-Garde Theatre
Books and Plays by Individual Playwrights

Collections of Avant-Garde Plays

Modern French Theatre
E.P. Dutton & CO. 1966
Note: This book may currently be out of print, but is worth searching for. It contains plays by Alfred Jarry, Guillaume Apollinaire, Tristan Tzara, André Breton & Philippe Soupault, Louis Aragon, René Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Antonin Artaud, Roger Vitrac, Robert Desnos and Eugene Ionesco, among others.

Dada Performance
PAJ Publications 1987
Note: Features a scene by scene description of Raymond Roussel's 1912 Paris production of Impressions of Africa, as well as works for the theatre by Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Raoul Hausmann, Kurt Schwitters, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, André Breton & Philippe Soupault, Roger Vitrac and Francis Picabia, among others.

Avant-Garde Drama
Bantam Books 1969
Note: Out of print, but used copies are available online. It contains plays by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Ernst Toller, Bertolt Brecht, Yuri Olyesha, Luigi Pirandello, E.E. Cummings and Michel de Ghelderode.

An Anthology of German Expressionist Drama
Anchor Books 1963
Note: Features dramatic works by Oskar Kokoschka, Georg Kaiser, Yvan Goll and Bertolt Brecht, among others.

Seven Expressionist Plays
Calder Publications 2010
Note: Includes seven plays, written between 1906 and 1926, by Oskar Kokoschka, Franz Kafka, Ernst Barlach, Georg Kaiser, August Stramm, Alfred Brust and Yvan Goll.

Expressionist Texts
PAJ Publications 2001
Note: This anthology contains works by Oskar Kokoschka, August Stramm, Georg Kaiser, Gottfried Benn, Walter Hasenclever, Ernst Toller and Lothar Schreyer

German Expressionist Plays
Continuum Publishing 1997
Note: This volume includes plays by Georg Kaiser, Ernst Toller, Gottfried Benn, Oskar Kokoschka, Carl Sternheim and Walter Hasenclever.

Theater of the Avant-Garde, 1890-1950: A Critical Anthology
Yale University Press 2001
Note: Features plays by Maurice Maeterlinck, Alfred Jarry, Wassily Kandinsky, Yvan Goll, Tristan Tzara, Stanislaw Witkiewicz, Roger Vitrac, Antonin Artaud, Aleksandr Vvedensky and Arthur Adamov, among others.

Theater of the Avant-Garde, 1950-2000: A Critical Anthology
Yale University Press 2001
Note: Assembles an international selection of avant-garde plays from the second half of the twentieth century, including works by Samuel Beckett, Tadeusz Kantor, Richard Foreman, John Cage, Tadeusz Rózewicz, Karen Finley, Kazimierz Braun, Susan Sontag, Charles Ludlam and Heiner Müller, among others.

Nine Plays of the Modern Theater
Grove Press 1981
Note: Includes plays by Bertolt Brecht, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Slawomir Mrozek, among others.

Absurd Drama
Penguin Putnam 1990
Note: Four plays by Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, Fernando Arrabal and Edward Albee.

Three Pre-Surrealist Plays
Oxford University Press 1997
Note: Contains Maurice Maeterlinck's The Blind, Alfred Jarry's Ubu and Guillaume Apollinaire's The Breasts of Tiresias.

Futurist Performance
PAJ Publications 2001
Note: Includes thirteen manifestos and forty-eight performance texts by Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Fortunato Depero, Francesco Cangiullo and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.

Selected Books About Avant-Garde Theatre

Dada and Surrealist Performance by Annabelle Melzer
PAJ Publishing 1994

Artaud's Theatre Of Cruelty by Albert Bermel
Methuen Drama 2001

The Theater and Its Double by Antonin Artaud
Grove Press 1958

Artaud on Theatre by Antonin Artaud
Ivan R Dee 2004

Russian and Soviet Theater 1905-1932 by Konstantin Rudnitsky
Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1988

Meyerhold on Theatre by Vsevolod Meyerhold
Methuen 1978

Meyerhold: A Revolution in Theatre by Edward Braun
University of Iowa Press 1998

German Expressionist Drama: Ernst Toller and Georg Kaiser
by Renate Benson
Grove Press 1984

Brecht on Theatre by Bertolt Brecht
Hill and Wang 1964

The Theatre of Erwin Piscator by John Willet
Holmes & Meier 1979

The Theater of the Bauhaus
edited by Walter Gropius & Arthur S. Wensinger
Wesleyan 1971

Twentieth Century Polish Theatre edited by Bohdan Drozdowski
Riverrun Press 1979
Note: Contains critical writings, manifestos and plays by, among others, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz and Tadeusz Kantor.

A Journey Through Other Spaces: Essays and Manifestos
by Tadeusz Kantor
University of California 1993

Towards a Poor Theatre by Jerzy Grotowski
Routledge 1968; reissued 2002

The Theatre of the Absurd by Martin Esslin
Reissued by Vintage Press 2004

Avant Garde Theatre: 1892-1992 by Christopher Innes
Routledge 1993

Italian Futurist Theatre, 1909-1944 by Günter Berghaus
Oxford University Press 1998

Fake Fish: The Theater of Kobo Abe by Nancy K. Shields
Weatherhill 1996

Butoh: Dance of the Dark Soul by Mark Holborn and Ethan Hoffman Aperture 1987

Books and Plays by Individual Playwrights

Kobo Abe, Arthur Adamov, Guillaume Apollinaire,
Fernando Arrabal, Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett,
Bertolt Brecht, Georg Buchner, Robert Desnos,
Richard Foreman, Michel de Ghelderode, Ivan Goll,
Eugene Ionesco, Alfred Jarry, Georg Kaiser,
Tadeusz Kantor, Oskar Kokoschka, Federico García Lorca
Vladimir Mayakovsky, Heiner Muller, Georges Neveux,
Oskar Panizza, Luigi Pirandello, Raymond Roussel,
Tadeusz Rozewicz, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Tardieu, Ernst Toller,
Boris Vian, Roger Vitrac and Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz

Kobo Abe

Friends: A Play Random House 1969
The Man Who Turned Into A Stick Columbia University Press 1969
Three Plays (includes Involuntary Homicide, Green Stockings and The Ghost Is Here) Columbia University Press 1997

Arthur Adamov

Theater of the Avant-Garde, 1890-1950 (includes The Invasion)
Yale University Press 2001
Absurd Drama (includes Professor Taranne) Penguin 1965
Ping Pong Grove Press 1959
Paolo Paoli John Calder Publishers 1959

Guillaume Apollinaire

Modern French Theatre (includes Appolinaire's play The Breasts of Tiresias; translation by Michael Benedikt) E.P. Dutton & Co. 1966
Three Pre-Surrealist Plays (includes The Breasts of Tiresias; translation by Maya Slater) Oxford University Press 1997
The Color of Time Zone 1980

Fernando Arrabal

The Automobile Graveyard Grove Press 1960
Absurd Drama (includes The Two Executioners) Penguin 1965
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers Grove Press 1973
Garden of Delights Grove Press 1974
Guernica and Other Plays (includes The Labyrinth, The Tricycle, Picnic on the Battlefield, And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers, The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria and Garden of Delights) Grove Press 1994

Antonin Artaud

The Theatre and Its Double Grove Press 1994
Artaud on Theatre Methuen Drama 2001
The Cenci Grove Press 1970
Modern French Theatre (includes Artaud's play Jet of Blood )
E.P. Dutton 1966

Collected Works Calder Publications 1974
Volume 1: Prose, Poetry and Letters
Volume 2: The Alfred Jarry Theatre
Volume 3: Scenarios on the Cinema, Interviews and Letters
Volume 4: The Theatre and Its Double, The Cenci and Theatre Documents

Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot Grove Press 1958
Endgame Grove Press 1958
Happy Days Faber & Faber 1998
Krapp's Last Tape and Other Dramatic Pieces Grove Press 1958
Cascando and Other Short Dramatic Pieces Grove Press 1963
Ends and Odds: Nine Dramatic Pieces Grove Press 1974
Eleutheria Foxrock 1995
The Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett: Volume III of The Grove Centenary Editions Grove Press 2006

Note: Of course, there are also numerous publications available featuring Beckett's prose, poetry and criticism.

Bertolt Brecht

Note: Brecht's works in English were published by Methuen Publishing until 2006. These editions, edited by Ralph Manheim and John Willett, are now sold by A&C Black Publishers in London. In addition to Brecht's plays, the Manheim & Willet series also includes collections of poetry, prose and theoretical writing. As of the 1990s, Arcade Publishing in the United States has issued individual volumes of most of the A&C Black series.

Collected Plays of Bertolt Brecht Published by A&C Black

Vol. 1 (Baal, Drums in the Night, In the Jungle of Cities, The Life of Edward II of England, and five one-act plays)

Vol. 2 (Man Equals Man, The Elephant Calf, The Threepenny Opera, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Seven Deadly Sins)

Vol. 3 (St. Joan of the Stockyards, Lindbergh's Flight, The Baden-Baden Lesson on Consent, He Said Yes / He Said No, The Decision, The Exception and the Rule, The Horatians and the Curiations and The Mother)

Vol. 4 (Round Heads and Pointed Heads, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, Senora Carrar's Rifles, Dansen, How Much is Your Iron? and The Trial of Lucullus)

Vol. 5 (Galileo and Mother Courage and Her Children)

Vol. 6 (The Good Person of Szechwan, Arturo Ui and Mr Puntila and His Man Matti)

Vol. 7 (The Visions of Simone Machard, Schweyk in the Second World War, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Duchess of Malfi)

Vol. 8 (Antigone, The Days of the Commune and Turandot)

Note: A number of Brecht's plays, translated and edited by Eric Bentley, have been published by Grove Press since the early 1960s. While Bentley was an important advocate of Brecht's work in the English-speaking world, the Manheim & Willet editions are preferable.

Grove Press Editions edited by Eric Bentley

Three Plays: Baal, A Man's a Man, The Elephant Calf
Edward II
The Mother
The Threepenny Opera
Mother Courage and Her Children
Galileo Translated by Charles Laughton.
The Jewish Wife & Other Short Plays (contains The Jewish Wife, In Search of Justice, The Informer, The Measures Taken, The Exception and the Rule and The Salzburg Dance of Death )
Jungle of the Cities and Other Plays
(also includes Drums in the Night and Roundheads and Peakheads)

Other Books by Brecht Relating to Theatre

The Messingkauf Dialogues Methuen 2002
Brecht on Theatre Hill and Wang 1964
Poems & Songs From the Plays Methuen 1990

Further Notes: There have been numerous biographies written about Brecht. Recommended are Brecht by Ronald Hayman and Bertolt Brecht - His Life, His Art, His Times by Frederic Ewen. The biographical works written by John Fuegi should be approached with caution, as the author takes a rather vehement anti-Brecht stance, appearing to have some sort of an ax to grind. While difficult to find, the THEATERARBEIT books, published in Germany, are well worth the search. They document many of Brecht's productions at the Berliner Ensemble and feature numerous photographs.

One Final Note: In addition to being an important playwright, Brecht was an excellent poet. Highly recommended is the anthology Poems 1913-1956 published by Methuen in 1979

Georg Buchner

Woyzeck (translated by Nicholas Rudall) Ivan R. Dee Publishers 2002
Woyzeck (translated by Daniel J. Farrelly) Carysfort Press 2004

Note: There are also numerous collections of Buchner's complete plays, which feature Woyzeck in a variety of different translations. Among the publishers currently offering such anthologies are Penguin, Oxford University Press, Hill and Wang and Manchester University Press.

Robert Desnos

Modern French Theatre (includes Desnos' play La Place de l'etoile)
E.P. Dutton 1966

Richard Foreman

Love & Science: Selected Music-Theatre Texts
Theatre Communications Group 1991
Unbalancing Acts: Foundations for a Theater
Theatre Communications Group 1993
Bad Boy Nietzsche! And Other Plays
Theatre Communications Group 2007
Paradise Hotel and Other Works Overlook 2001
My Head Was a Sledgehammer: Six Plays Overlook 1995
Richard Foreman: Plays and Manifestos New York University Press 1976

Michel de Ghelderode

Seven Plays (includes Chronicles of Hell and The Woman at the Tomb, among others) Hill and Wang 1960
Seven Plays Volume 2 (includes Red Magic, A Night of Pity and The Death of Doctor Faust, among others) Hill and Wang 1964
Ghelderode: 3 Plays (includes The Siege of Ostend, The Actor Makes His Exit and Transfiguration in the Circus) Host Publications 2006

Yvan Goll

An Anthology of German Expressionist Drama (contains Goll's play The Immortal One, as well as Two Superdramas, a theoretical work)
Anchor Books 1963
Seven Expressionist Plays (includes Goll's Methusalem) Calder 2010
Royal Palace (CD recording of a surrealist opera by Kurt Weill and Goll; contains the libretto in German and English) Capriccio 2004

Eugene Ionesco

Four Plays (featuring The Bald Soprano, The Lesson, Jack or the Submission and The Chairs ) Grove Press 1958
Amédée and Other Plays Grove Press 1958
The Killer and Other Plays Grove Press 1960
Rhinoceros Grove Press 1960
Hunger and Thirst and Other Plays Grove Press 1960
Exit the King Grove Press 1963
A Stroll in the Air & Frenzy for Two, or More Grove Press 1964
Macbett Grove Press 1973
A Hell of a Mess Grove Press 1975
Man With Bags Grove Press 1975

Note: Grove Press reissued most of Ionesco's plays during the 1980s, sometimes in different groupings than the original editions listed above.

Alfred Jarry

Ubu Roi Dover Publications 2003
The Ubu Plays (featuring Ubu Roi, Ubu Cuckolded and Ubu Enchained)
Grove Weidenfield 1968

Note: Atlas Press offers several collections of Jarry's writing, including The Antliaclasts and Related Texts, which features a student play from 1886, and Caesar Antichrist, Jarry's second book/play published in 1895, which contains an early version of Ubu in one of its acts.

Georg Kaiser

Gas 1 Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. 1968
Gas 2 Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. 1972
Plays Volume One (contains From Morning To Midnight, The Coral, The Burghers of Calais, Gas 1 and Gas 2) Riverrun Press 1971
An Anthology of German Expressionist Drama (contains Kaiser's Alkibiades Saved) Anchor Books 1963

Tadeusz Kantor

Wielopole Wielopole Marion Boyars 1990
Theater of the Avant-Garde, 1950-2000 (includes The Dead Class)
Yale University Press 2001
A Journey Through Other Spaces: Essays and Manifestos
University of California 1993
The Theatre of Death Galeria Foksal PSP Books 1975
Twentieth Century Polish Theatre (contains a manifesto by Kantor, as well as notes concerning The Dead Class) Riverrun Press 1979

Oskar Kokoschka

Plays and Poems (includes Murderer, Hope of Women, Sphinx and Strawman, Job, The Burning Bush, Orpheus and Eurydice and Comenius) Ariadne Press 2001
An Anthology of German Expressionist Drama (contains Kokoschka's Murderer, Hope of Women) Anchor Books 1963
Expressionist Texts (includes Kokoschka's Sphinx and the Strawman)
PAJ Publications 2001

Federico García Lorca

Once Five Years Pass and other dramatic works
Station Hill Press 1986
The Public and Play Without a Title New Directions 1983
The Rural Trilogy (Blood Wedding, Yerma and Bernardo Alba)
Bantam Books 1987
The Unknown Federico Garcia Lorca Atlas Press 1996
Plays: One (includes Blood Wedding, Doña Rosita the Spinster and Yerma) Methuen 1987
Plays: Two (includes The Shoemaker's Wonderful Wife, The Love of Don Perlimplin, The Puppet Play of Don Cristóbal, The Butterfliy's Evil Spell and When Five Years Pass) Methuen 1990
Plays: Three (includes Mariana Pineda, The Public and Play Without A Title) Methuen 1994

Note: Of course, Lorca's poetry is also highly recommended, especially the collections Gypsy Ballads and Poet in New York.

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Bugs! Three Plays by Vladimir Mayakovsky Green Integer 2007
Mayakovsky: Plays Northwestern University Press 1995
The Bedbug and Selected Poetry Indiana University Press 1975

Heiner Muller

Hamletmachine and Other Texts for the Stage PAJ Publications 1984
Germania Semiotext 1990
Heiner Muller Reader: Plays, Poetry, Prose PAJ Publications 2007
The Theater of Heiner Muller by Jonathan Kalb Limelight 2004
Muller in America: US Productions of Works by Heiner Muller
Castillo Cultural Center 2003

Georges Neveux

Note: There are currently no translations of Neveux's play Juliette or The Key to Dreams in book form. However, there is a CD recording of Martinu's opera of the same name, which contains the libretto, closely based on Neveux's play, in Czech, French, German and English. The recording was issued by Supraphon.

Oskar Panizza

The Council of Love (trans. by Oreste F. Pucciani) Viking Press 1973
The Council of Love (translated by Malcolm Green) Atlas Press 1992
Oskar Panizza - His Life and Works by Peter D.G. Brown
Published by Peter Lang 1983

Luigi Pirandello

Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays Penguin 1996
Three Major Plays (includes Six Characters in Search of an Author, Right You Are - If You Think So and Henry IV) Smith & Kraus 2001
Pirandello's Henry IV Grove Press 2005
Naked Masks: Five Plays E.P. Dutton 1952
Avant-Garde Drama (includes Pirandello's Each In His Own Way)
Bantam Books 1969

Raymond Roussel

Selections From Certain of His Books (features the plays The Dust of Suns and The Star on the Forehead) Atlas Press 1991
Dada Performance (contains a scene by scene description of Roussel's 1912 Paris production of Impressions of Africa) PAJ 1987
Life, Death & Works (features various articles on Roussel, as well as reviews of some of his plays) Atlas Press 1987
Raymond Roussel by Franois Caradec Atlas Press 2001

Tadeusz Rozewicz

The Card Index and other plays (also includes The Interrupted Act and Gone Out) Grove Press 1969
The Witnesses and other plays (also includes The Funny Old Man and The Old Woman Broods) Calder And Boyars 1970
Birth Rate Marion Boyars 1998
Mariage Blanc & Hunger Artist Departs Marion Boyars 2000

Jean-Paul Sartre

No Exit and Three Other Plays Vintage 1989
Jean-Paul Sartre's Adaptation of Euripides' The Trojan Women Vintage 1972

Jean Tardieu

Underground Lovers and Other Experimental Plays Allen & Unwin 1968
Going...Going...Gone! or The Client Dies Thrice (includes The Contraption, The Keyhole and The Enquiry Office) Black Apollo Press 1999
Modern French Theatre (includes Tardieu's One Way For Another)
E.P. Dutton & CO. 1966
The Paris Stage (includes Sleepless City) Ubu Repertory Theater 1988

Ernst Toller

Seven Plays by Ernst Toller (contains The Machine Wreckers, Draw the Fires, Transfiguration, Masses and Man, Hinkemann, The Blind Goddess, and Hoppla! Such is Life!) Liveright Publishing 1936
Plays One (contains Transformation, Masses Man and Hoppla, We're Alive!) Oberon 2000 I Was A German Paragon House 1991
The Plays of Ernst Toller: A Revaluation by Cecil Davies Routledge 1996

Boris Vian

The Empire Builders Grove Press 1967

Roger Vitrac

Modern French Theatre (includes Vitrac's play The Mysteries of Love) E.P. Dutton 1966
Dada Performance (includes Vitrac's Free Entry) PAJ Publications 1987
Victor or Power to the Children (limited edition) Calder Books 2010

Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz

Three Plays (including The Madman and the Nun, The Crazy Locomotive and The Water Hen) Applause 1968
The Mother and Other Unsavory Plays (also includes They and The Shoemakers) Applause 1968
Tropical Madness (contains The Pragmatists, Mr. Price or Tropical Madness, Gyubal Wahazar or Along the Cliffs of the Absurd and Metaphysics of a Two- Headed Calf) The Winter Repertory 1972
The Witkiewicz Reader (includes prose and the plays Cockroaches and The New Deliverance) Northwestern University Press 1992
Seven Plays (includes The Pragmatists, Tumor Brainiowicz, Gyubal Wahazar, The Anonymous Work, The Cuttlefish, Dainty Shapes and Hairy Apes, and The Beelzebub Sonata) Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications 2004

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Surrealist Plays

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Sanctus Fumigaci by Todd Bash

"Todd Bash is one of the few contemporary playwrights who captures the spirit of surrealism. In fact, surrealist figures from the past, such as Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí and Paul Eluard, appear as characters in a couple of his plays. Dream-like, funny, and sometimes disturbing, SANCTUS FUMIGACI (which, in English, loosely translates to "Holy Smoke") is recommended for fans of avant-garde literature and experimental theater."