History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/American 21st
Plays in American drama that have so far drawn attention in the 21st century include "I am my own wife" (2003) by Doug Wright (1962-?), "Doubt" (2004) by John Patrick Shanley (1950-?), "A perfect wedding" (2004) by Charles Mee (1938-?), and "Kicking a dead horse" (2007) by Sam Shepard (1943-?).
"I am my own wife" 
"I am my own wife". Time: . Place: .
"Doubt". Time: 1964. Place: New York, USA.
In a Catholic grammar school, Father Flynn sermonizes on the bond that can exist between human beings other than positive ones, specifying: "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty." Sister Aloysius, principal of the school, criticizes Sister James for being too friendly with students, to which the latter acquiesces relunctantly. Later, Sister James informs her superior that the only black boy in the school, Daniel Muller, is not picked on by the other boys because of a protector, Father Flynn. Sister Aloysius becomes immediately suspicious of this relationship. Sister James later tells her that after leaving Father Flynn's company at the rectory, the boy appeared strange in class and his breath smelled of alcohol. Sister Aloysius requests Father Flynn's presence in her office to question him about Muller. Father Flynn's explanation of the boy's strange behavior is that he stole altar wine. Sister Aloysius does not believe him and calls the boy's mother to learn more. The mother knows nothing, and, despite learning about Sister Aloysius's suspicions, she wishes to let things remain as they are: "Well, I would prefer not to see it that way if you don't mind," which Sister Aloysius does not accept. She accuses Father Flynn to his face a second time. Though he denies any illicit doings, he quits his position, to obtain a better one elsewhere. To Sister Aloysius, this is tantamount to admitted guilt, to Sister James a subject of doubt.
"A perfect wedding" 
"A perfect wedding". Time: 2000s. Place: USA.
"A perfect wedding" text at http://www.panix.com/userdirs/meejr/html/perfectwedding.html
On Meridee and Amadou's wedding day, her brother, Jonathan, is rather cynical: "a bride and groom start out in life with their whole marriage, the whole center of their lives from then on, based on things they think are a total lie." Mention is made of the subject of the nature of discretion. Frank, Meridee's father, is irritated at what François, his wife Maria's lover, says of it: "Of course, it is true, if a man lives with a woman in the same home as her husband, I don't think this man is in much of a position to talk about discretion." Maria offends Amadou by asking him whether he is Turkish or Indian. He turns to walk off in the woods. The party worries, there being quicksand. Jonathan, Medidee's brother, is amazed he was never told of this. Meridee feels abandoned, as no one knows where Amandou has gone. In the woods, she meets James, her sister Tessa's friend, who says: "I saw you standing here feeling lost and abandoned and my heart just went out to you." Meridee impulsively kisses James, then leaves just as impulsively. When Tessa arrives, they speak of human relations: "Maybe sometimes it's not bad to be lost, Tessa, to be reminded how it is to step out into the unknown, because whether a person is afraid or not there is a certain sense of exhilaration that comes from just throwing yourself into new territory; it sets you free." He asks her to marry him, but she refuses and leaves. Jonathan's friend, Ariel, arrives, saying: "Seeing you standing here feeling lost and abandoned, my heart just went out to you," and kissing the bewildered James. As he rushes out, she says to her arriving partner: "Oh my God, I was just thinking of you," and inquires after marriage, which he dismisses and leaves. Amadou walks up to Ariel, and, sympathizing, kisses her, seen by Meridee, who dejectedly declares: "I thought the next big event of my life would be getting married, but now I see the next big event will be dying," adding: "I've pursued you and pursued you and pursued you in every way for all these years and you have rejected me and rejected me and rejected me," and "I keep trying over and over to let you go, and even as I say that it takes my breath away to think that I would let go of the only person in my life I have ever loved so completely, you've been my life itself to me, that's what I find so hard to let go of and why, when I come close to letting go, it feels like the only death I'll die." Ariel returns to console her; they kiss passionately. A wedding guest, Father Thane, and Julian, one of the wedding planners, discuss the disadvantages of being alone and imagining what may be. The family-in-law arrive, Vikram talking about his female body preferences, Djamila about Hindu deflowering rituals, he also when his first wife left him, for whom all the guests and planners commiserate. Some heated words are exchanged, so that Willy, the family-in-law's son, hits Frank's chest with a mudball, Edmund retaliating in the same manner, as Vikram does to him, after which Frank mudballs him. A general melee ensues in a mud-pit, until Maria thinks she and others are standing in quicksand and they help each other out, though it is only mud. Meridee enters to say she no longer wants to marry Amadou. Bob and Karl carry in a coffin with Frank's mother in it. He collapses when learning this, then digs to be with her, helped by Edmund, Jonathan, Maria, Meridee, and others, till he steps out of the grave. The wedding planners propose to do a funeral, giving examples of ceremonies, at the end simply joining hands in a circle, keening and ululating. Champagne is passed around. Her spirit may preside over the wedding ceremony, but both bride and bridegroom refuse, yet Vikram warns him not to be overhasty: "When you come to the end of your life, what do you think will have mattered to you at all except that you knew another person and loved her?" In view of the wedding preparations about to be wasted, two of the planners, Issac and Dieter, decide to marry, by which time the bride changes her mind and surprises the groom by choosing Ariel. This agreed to, Tessa confesses she has always loved Amadou and he her. In the general joy, Frank reaches down to take a handful of dirt and slowly pours it out of his hand on the coffin.
"Kicking a dead horse" 
"Kicking a dead horse". Time: 2000s. Place: USA.
Hobart Struther decides to take a long voyage "to reach authenticity" after making a fortune selling paintings, but he is stopped by the death of his horse in a desert. Out of frustration, he kicks it many times. In midlife crisis, he has abandoned wife and wealthy but superficial life-experiences for a trip to understand himself. He must bury the horse, which proves very difficult. He debates out loud about what to do, and finds it difficult to find anything.