Plays are an important part of every writer’s TBR list. Not only do they constitute an enormously popular art form, but they can also be incredibly helpful for novelists who are trying to shape their new works.
Plays, in essence, must be simple. (Except maybe for Shaw’s, with the many paragraphs of exposition.) For the most part, though, there’s simply dialogue, along with basic stage directions.
I think the author who shifts most seamlessly between his stories and plays is Anton Chekhov. He believed that simplicity was everything; that nothing should be too complicated. As a result, his stories and plays are effortless. It almost seems like he just breathed them onto the page.
In novels and stories, detail is important — but too many details are overwhelming. That’s why some people don’t like Dickens anymore. (And trust me — as someone who used to try to mimic his style, I’ve gotten some harsh criticism.)
Nowadays, and even back in the old day, people just liked things SIMPLE. Good, but simple. Hence the popularity of Chekhov. Alas, it never helped him to become anything but a poor country doctor — but people did love his work.
Reading plays can help writers to understand how to get to the heart of the matter — how to get to the core of a scene, without boring your audience. They’re the perfect example of the combination of wit and brevity.
In a word, plays are a massively useful tool for both practiced and amateur authors. Think of them as a method by which to streamline your mode of thought.