Where to read plays for free online
Check out these online libraries and databases to get your theatre fix from home.
Not being able to see live theatre is a bummer, and most people are now turning to livestreams for their theatre fix. As much as we’ve been loving watching theatre from our couch, another option is to read theatre — for free!
It’s an easy way to brush up on your Shakespeare or discover something new. Check out our list of websites where you can visit to read plays for free.
Play At Home
Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater , Repertory Theater of St Louis, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company joined forces to launch the Play At Home project, a series of short plays commissioned specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation to inspire joy and connection for all. Read short plays by up-and-coming and veteran playwrights like Lauren Yee (The Great Leap), Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop), and more.
Playscripts’s Free Reads Corner
Playscripts is an independent publisher of new plays and musicals, established in 1998 by brothers and playwrights Doug and Jonathan Rand. Playscripts’s Free Reads Corner features 20 of the top plays in their catalog, completely free to read (you just need to sign up for a free account with Playscripts). Read plays by Lauren Gunderson (currently recognized as America’s most-produced living playwright), Bekah Brunstetter (writer and producer of NBC’s This Is Us), and more.
The Folger Shakespeare Library’s Digital Archives
The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. In addition to having the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is also home to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art. Enjoy all of Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, and poems for free on its website.
Lazy Bee Scripts
Based in the UK, Lazy Bee Scripts is a publisher and rights agent for stage works. Search through 402 full-length plays by genre, run-time, theme, and more.
Scribd Free 30-Day Trial
Scribd is an e-book and audiobook subscription service that includes over one million documents, including plays and sheet music from your favorite musicals. (Who wouldn’t want to learn how to play the score of Wicked in their living room?) Try the free 30-day trial for access.
A free online library, Read Print puts thousands of online books at your fingertips. Read classic plays by Henrik Ibsen, Leo Tolstoy, Edgar Allan Poe, and more literary icons.
Here’s another online library that’s free to use. On OpenLibrary are plays by William Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, as well as informational texts about playhouses. Users can add and edit information to the thousands of works on their site too.
Take your pick from the thousands of scripts available, as well as television show transcripts and radio shows. In the plays section of SimplyScripts, there’s lots of new works, as well as opportunities to discuss shows with likeminded readers.