Here’s my complete list of one-acts. Most are suitable for high schools and community theatres; a few would not be. To weed those out, see the post “one-acts for high schools.”
Almost all run about 25-30 minutes; designed to fit within the time limits of most one-act contests.
A few run longer, a few run shorter, as noted.
All can be produced with minimal staging.
All are available directly from me, except those that have been published, which are noted — and are available from their respective publishers.
THE ADVENTURES OF LIZARD GIRL AND THE JINGLE-JANGLE TWINS
A comic book artist buys some special ink, which causes him to nod off — and his characters to come to life. The characters then begin to run amok in the real world. Lizard Girl, the superhero, needs to have green scales. Cast: 10 — 3 male, 3 female, 4 non-gender.
THE AMAZING AND HORRIFYING — NOT TO MENTION FANTASTICAL — TALE OF THE HALIFAX AND THE MERMAIDS
The starving sailors of an ocean voyage in the 1700s haul in a catch of three mermaids. The sailors argue about how to eat them, and the mermaids debate how to extricate themselves from the situation. An absurdist look at problem-solving. Cast: Six or seven. With a cast of seven: Three females, three males, one non-gender. However, you can combine two small parts to make a cast of six: Three females, two males, one non-gender.
AMY AUCTIONS HER VIRGINITY
A slightly naughty commentary on media hype, with some sex thrown in for good measure. A 23-year-old college student who finds herself in debt decides to auction off her virginity over the Internet to raise money. A media spectacle ensues. The student and her three roommates compare notes; a male chorus parades by in wedding dresses, the importance of a woman’s virginity through the ages is discussed, and all the while the bidding for the young woman’s virtue goes higher and higher. Press, politicians, preachers and pornographers all clamor for a piece of the, um, story. This isn’t much more risque than many of the things found on television. Cast: Eight — 4 women, 4 men. Running time: 35-40 minutes.
AMY’S LUNCH BREAK
The receptionist steps out for lunch — and suddenly everything in the office goes wrong. Important phone calls go unanswered, the fax machine jams up, deadlines get missed. And then finally, an emergency attempt to change the cartridge in the copy machine leaves everyone covered in toner. Cast: Five — 3 female, 2 male, although all the parts except the title role of Amy can be assigned a different gender, which would make the cast 1 female, 4 non-gender.) Running time: 25 minutes.
THE ANGEL OF BROOKLYN
When Bud was a boy, he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, he vowed to God that he would never again be a baseball fan. Now in retirement, Bud still nurses resentment; but an angel arrives to free him from his vow. Cast: Two or three, depending on which ending you choose. Either one male, one female or one male, two females. Running time: 25 minutes.
• Produced by Hovey Players, Summer Arts Festival, Waltham, Mass., July 2005.
* Staged reading at Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Va., April 2009.
* Staged reading as a radio play, Falcon Radio Theatre, Seattle, Washington, January 2013.
THE ANGEL TREE
An angel appears to a single mother at Christmas and helps her find a common bond with her surly teenage daughter. Cast: Three females.
* Produced by Showtimers, Roanoke, Virginia, December 5-7, 2014, with additional performance at Attic Productions annual meeting, Fincastle, December 14, 2014.
* Scheduled to be produced by CW Actors Group, Collbran, Colorado, December 19-20, 2014.
APOLLO 21 or 22
A woman in Iceland has raised her daughter to believe her father was one of the American astronaut who trained on the lavafields there in preparation for the moon landings. When the woman dies, her daughter learns the truth. A play about family secrets, and the importance of nature versus nurture. Cast: Six — three females, one female child, one male, one non-gender, plus several off-stage voices.
AUNT MILLIE’S CAT
A college student housesits for his or her great-aunt — and the great-aunt’s beloved cat — only to wake one morning to find the cat has turned into a human and expects every order to be carried out instantly. Comes in both male and female versions — one with male cat and female house-sitter, another with female cat and male house-sitter. Cast: Three — 1 male, 1 female and 1 non-gender role that has only a single line during a brief appearance. Running time: Thirty minutes.
* Produced by Edison High School, Richmond, Ohio, January 27, 2007, as part of annual New Playwrights Festival. (Version with male cat, female tenant.)
BEHIND THE MUSES: THE WEIRD SISTERS STORY
The career of the Weird Sisters of “Macbeth” fame, as told through a TV documentary. The “show” traces the ups and downs of their careers, from their humble origins, their brush with fame and the “creative differences” that led to their break-up. Includes a look at other historical incidents the sisters were involved in — including the rise of the Beatles. Cast: 13 or 14 (there’s one small role that can easily be doubled if you want to keep the size to 13.) If 13, cast would be eight female, three male, two non-gender. If 14, cast would be eight female, three male, three non-gender. Both counts include four “chorus” members who act out a variety of scenes; there are no more than four people in any of those scenes, but if you wanted to accommodate more players, you could distribute those chorus roles among more people.
• Produced by Lloyd C. Bird High School, Chesterfield County, Va., February 2004.
BELINDA’S BLIND DATE
Belinda dreads her blind date with Joe, anticipating an awkward, predictable evening of the same old thing — dinner and a movie. She sets out to change all that. When Joe arrives, she masquerades as her phantom twin sister Melinda, who proceeds to talk Joe into changing his plans for the evening into something Belinda will find a lot more interesting, and Joe will find a lot more expensive. This requires a strong female. Note: This is similar to another play by the same author, “Brenda’s Blind Date,” which has a larger cast. Cast: Two — one male, one female. Set requirements: Minimal, although you’ll need a sofa, some chairs, and a simple divider between bedroom and living room.
• Produced by J.R. Tucker High School, Richmond, Va., May 2004.
* Produced by Tyrone Community Players, Tyrone, Pennsylvania, October 2008.
• Produced by Christiansburg High School, Feb. 25, 2010.
THE BLACK MARKET OF MEMORIES
A young woman wakes up in a strange place — and discovers she’s had her memories stolen. Now that doctors have devised a way to transplant memories, there’s a lively market for memories — and a black market of stolen ones. The woman shares a recovery room with another woman, who specializes in “customizing” memories — doing things for rich donors that they’d never do themselves, but would like to remember doing. A dark, serious piece, which is carried primarily by the two women; the other characters appear only intermittently. Cast: Five — one male, two female, two non-gender. Running time: Twenty five minutes.
* Produced by End Times Productions, New York, N.Y., July 2011.
* Produced by Otherworld Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, July 2015.
THE BLACK TULIP
Set in the tulipmania of 17th century Holland, when tulips were traded as precious currency. A shoemaker sprouts a black tulip in his garden, which he attempts to sell for a high price. But his buyers have an evil plan to destroy it. Based on what may have been a true story, often repeated in tulip lore. Whether true or not, this is a story about temptation and greed. Cast: Seven or nine, with several configurations. Standard option is 4 male, 3 female. Another option, if you drop the prologue, is 2 male, 3 female, 2 non-gender with no lines. The nine-member option is 4 male, 3 female, 2 non-gender with no lines. It depends on whether you use the opening scene, and how you choose to play two characters with no lines. Running time: 30 minutes.
BRENDA’S BLIND DATE
Brenda prepares for her blind date, while her sister Julie sulks about breaking up with her boyfriend. When Brenda’s date arrives, Julie greets him — and then shuttles back and forth between Brenda in the bedroom and Darrell in the living room, each telling outlandish stories about the other. Eventually, each blanches at the prospect of going out with the other — and Julie steps in to become Darrell’s date for the evening. Note: This is similar to another play by the same author, “Belinda’s Blind Date,” which has a smaller cast. Cast: Three — two female, one male. Set requirements: Minimal, although you’ll need a sofa, some chairs, and a simple divider between bedroom and living room.
• Produced by the University of the Philippines, Los Banos, The Philippines., February 2004.
• Finalist, Brevard Little Theatre One-Act Competition, Brevard, N.C., 2004.
CATCH OF THE DAY
A nervous mother is preparing to entertain her daughter and the daughter’s new boyfriend. She’s eager for the match to succeed. She’s instructed her husband to pick up some fish on the way home for dinner; he mistakenly acquires a fugu, a type of fish prized as a delicacy in Japan — but which is also highly poisonous, if improperly prepared. Naturally, the woman succeeds in poisoning the daughter and her boyfriend — sending them into a trance. Comedy ensues, while the pair are frozen in position through part of the play. Cast: Two males, two females. Running time: 30 minutes.
* Staged reading as a radio play by Falcon Radio Theatre, Seattle, Washington, April 23, 2013.
* Produced at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, Nov. 3-6, 2016.
THE CEREAL KILLERS
Why are there no female characters on cereal boxes? That’s what one advertising agency designer wonders, and sets out to create one, with disastrous results. Her male co-worker tries to explain why cereal companies don’t want female characters, but she sets out to prove him wrong, with the help of a receptionist who wants to draw comic books with female superheroes. Cast: Five — one male, one female, two non-gender. Running time: 30 minutes
• Staged reading by Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington, April 2006.
• Finalist, Geneva Theatre Guild one-act competition,, Geneva, New York, 2007.
THE CHRISTMAS SPIDER
A poor family in Ukraine has a tree but can’t afford decorations. Meanwhile, a spiders living in the house decides the only place safe from the cleaning is the tree. Santa turns her web into tinsel, delighting everyone. Cast: five – two female, one male, one non-gender. Running time: 15 minutes. (Not to be confused with “The Christmas Spiders,” which is longer and has more characters.)
THE CHRISTMAS SPIDERS
A poor family in Ukraine has a tree but can’t afford decorations. Meanwhile, three spiders living in the house decide the only place safe from the cleaning is the tree. Santa turns their webs into tinsel, delighting everyone. Cast: Six or seven. If six – four female, one male, one non-gender. If seven – four female, two male, one non-gender. Running time: 20-25 minutes.
A modern Cinderella story, except this Cindy doesn’t want to go to the prom. Cast: Four — three females, one male
* Produced by South Walton High School, Santa Rosa, Florida, February 2017.
CODE 40 DENMARK COUNTY
In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the play ends with Hamlet and just about everyone else dead. This picks up where that left off, with the police investigation that followed, set in rural Denmark County. At every set of the way, authorities and the media come to the wrong conclusion. Ideal for introducing students to Hamlet, with some more serious subtexts. Cast: 24 — 5 male, 0 female, 19 non-gender. Plus an off-stage voice and four “dead” bodies with no lines in the opening scenes. They can be easily doubled. If you don’t double the bodies and the voice, you’d have a cast of 29 — 8 male, 1 female, 20 non-gender. Running time: One hour.
CODE 40 VERONA
In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the play ends when Romeo’s
servant, Balthasar, and Friar Lawrence flee the bloody scene in the Capulet
family tomb. They are apprehended by watchmen in the churchyard;
suddenly Prince Escalus and the heads of the two rival families arrive and
the tragic tale is wrapped up with speeches all around. This play begins at
Shakespeare’s ending but envisions a modern twist — Balthasar and Friar
Lawrence still flee and are still apprehended by church security guards. But this time, security calls the police, who proceed to investigate the crime. The script should be played as a terse police drama, a dark comedy in which incompetence and political pressure rule the day. The police release the friar because they can’t imagine how he would be involved and instead try to pin the crime on Balthasar; the mayor — Escalus — is under political pressure to crack down on gang violence; the public defender’s office is understaffed to deal with a complex case; budget cuts force the medical examiner’s office to lay off the lab assistant whose toxicology work might unravel the mystery. Cast: There are 20 parts, plus an off-stage voice that has three lines. Of those 20 parts, 5 are male, 2 are female and 13 are non-gender roles. The off-stage voice is also non-gender. In a pinch, even some of the male roles could be played by females. I wrote the script on a suggestion by a high school theatre teacher who said he needed a script for a class that would likely be 5 males, 15 females.
• Produced October 2003 by South Caldwell High School, Hudson, N.C.
• Published 2004 by Eldridge Plays and Musicals, P.O. Box 14367, Tallahassee, FL, 32317, or call (850) 385-2463 or http://www.histage.com.
• Produced January 2005 by Lakewood Ranch High School, Bradenton, Florida.
• Produced April 22, 2005 by Redwood Christian High School, San Lorenzo, California.
• Produced May 2005 by Spanaway Lake High School, Spanaway, Washington.
• Produced May 2005 by Brandeis Hillel Day School, San Francisco, Calif.
• Produced November 2005 by Montgomery Village Middle School, Montgomery Village, Maryland.
• Produced by Wayland High School, Wayland, Mass., Jan. 24, 2006.
• Produced by Westside Middle School, Omaha, Neb., May 25, 2006.
• Produced by Moscow Junior High School, Moscow, Idaho, November 15, 2006.
• Produced by Caddo Middle Magnet School, Shreveport, La., May 8, 2007.
* Produced by Dyker Heights I.S. 201, Brooklyn, N.Y., June 4, 2010.
• Produced by John Metcalf Junior High, Burnsville, Minnesota, Jan. 21, 2011.
* Produced at Horace Mann Middle School, Franklin, Mass., April 29, 2011.
• Produced at Eagles Landing High School, McDonough, Georgia, Oct. 15, 2011.
* Produced at Redwood Christian Schools, San Lorenzo, California, Nov. 13, 2015.
THE CURIOUS LEGEND OF BULL JOHNSON AND HIS 100TH HOME RUN
A dark morality tale that relates to steroid use in modern sports. A 19th century baseball player wants to extend his playing career, and avoid being sent back to the coal mines, by consulting a local medicine woman. She prescribes a strange elixir which transforms this middling player into a homerun champ — but his unnatural exploits earn him the ire of the baseball bosses of the day. Cast: Twelve — 7 male, 2 female, 2 non-gender and 1 non-gender child (but child must be of same gender as one of the two non-gender characters). Running time: Thirty minutes.
THE CURIOUS TALE OF DR. LESCARBAULT AND THE PLANET VULCAN
Based on the true story of a French country doctor who in 1859 thought he had discovered a new planet inside the orbit of Mercury, which was promptly named Vulcan. The doctor became the toast of France before it was discovered that his planet was really just a sunspot. Cast: Four — two male, two female.
CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT
A 1940s detective story — in which a glamorous woman named Curiosity hires a private investigator to clear her name in the killing of the cat.The investigator sets out to find out of more about each of the cat’s nine lives, and what ended them. It’s all a spoof which uses almost every popular saying about cats is used. Cast: Six to sixteen. If 6, — 3 male, 2 female, 1 non-gender. If 16 — 3 male, 5 female, 8 non-gender. Running time: Thirty minutes.
• Produced by Attic Productions, Fincastle, Va. March 2011.
* Scheduled to be produced by Red River Revue, Clarksville, Texas, spring 2017.
THE DARK SIDE
When a television journalist goes into public relations to make more money, colleagues joke that she’s sold her soul and gone over to “the dark side.” Then who shows up as one of her first clients — the devil himself, seeking better spin for his side of things. The newly-minted public relations woman wrestles with how to flak for the devil. Cast: Either six or nine, depending on how many you double. A cast of six would be 1 female, 1 male, 4 non-gender. A cast of nine would be 1 female, 1 male, 7 non-gender. Running time: 30 minutes.
THE DEAD HORSE
Two men buy a dead horse, thinking it’s just sleeping. Now they try to figure out what to do. Cast: Twelve – 8 males, 4 females, one of whom should be a child. See also the five-minute version by the same name. Running time: 20 minutes.
DEANNA DUPES THE DEVIL
The devil sends one of his many minions to claim a young woman’s soul, but she proves even more devillish. Cast: Three — two male, one female. Running time: About 15 minutes.
* Staged reading at Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Va., March 2012
DEATH BY POINSETTIA
A lonely woman tries to kill herself at Christmas by eating a poinsettia, convinced the plant is poisonous. It’s not, though. A male co-worker shows up and a touching scene ensues. Cast: Two – one male, one female.
* Produced at Studio C, Hollywood, California, December 2015.
* Produced by Artists Exchange, Cranston, Rhode Island, August 2016.
* Scheduled to be produced by Silver Spring Stage, Silver Spring, Maryland, August 2017.
THE DEATH OF YORICK
Here’s how the famous jester of “Hamlet” fame might have died: Poisoned by Claudius, when he caught the king’s brother having an affair with the queen. This presages the famous Shakespeare play, while incorporating many of its lines. Cast: Five – four males, one female.
A fast-paced commentary on modern-day attack ads in politics, and the
public’s lack of scientific knowledge. A political consultant and an astronomy
professor team up to wage a media campaign aimed at reclassifying Pluto
from a planet to an asteroid. A comedy, with a sharp point. Includes
audience participation, and two alternate endings, depending on the
outcome. There are two versions, a long version and a short version.
Cast: Six — 4 males, 2 females. Running time: 30 minutes.
Cast: 23 — 5 male, 4 female, 14 non-gender. Running time: One hour.
• Semi-finalist, Drury University One-Act Play Contest, 2004.
• Produced by Explora Science Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 2014.
EIGHT WHITE ROCKETS (The story of the ship that watched the Titanic sink)
On the night the Titanic sank, the freighter Californian was within sight of the
disaster and counted eight white rockets fired — the universal sign of
distress at sea. However, the crewmen on the Californian didn’t realize
what they were seeing, and the radio operator was asleep and didn’t hear
the SOS calls. This script contrasts the languid scene on the deck of the
Californian with the frantic response of the Carpathia, which eventually
came to the rescue — too late for most Titanic passengers. Cast: 11 — 10
male, 1 non-gender, if you wish to be historically accurate, but feel free to
use non-traditional casting. Running time: 30 minutes.
FAMOUS PEOPLE KILLED BY ANIMALS
A suburban costume party goes wrong. The theme is “famous people killed by animals.” Unfortunately, the animals show up, as well. Comically absurd. Cast: Four — two male, two female. Running time: About 15 minutes.
* Scheduled for production, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Oct. 26-29, 2017.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: A MODERN FAIRY TALE
A precocious youth attempts to find the secret to the tooth fairy — by kidnapping her. Where do all those teeth come from? And the money? Cast: Six — two female, four male. Running time: Fifteen minutes.
* Produced at New Voices Play Festival, Old Opera House Theatre, Charles Town, W.Va., June 2013; voted best in show by audience vote.
* Produced by South Walton High School, Santa Rosa, Florida, February 2017.
An extended and quite dysfunction family gathers for a Christmas season tradition — Aunt Hazel’s historically inedible fruitcake. But before she can bring it out, some of the relatives steal the thing and make a bet on whether they can destroy it. Chaos ensues. Characters include a goth-punk teen, a science nerd, a tough-talking ex-Peace Corps worker, a nearsighted aunt, and so forth. Cast: Nine — 2 male, 4 female, 3 non-gender.
• Published by Brooklyn Publishing, spring 2006.
• Produced by Hoover Middle School, Indiatlantic, Fla. 2006.
• Produced by Deer Mount Judea, Deer, Arizona, 2006-2007.
• Produced by Parker School, Parker, South Dakota, 2006-2007.
• Produced by Hysham Public Schools, Hysham, Montana, 2006-2007.
• Produced by Reno High School, Reno, Nevada, Feb. 27, 2007.
• Produced by Leonardtown High School, Leonardtown, Maryland, March 1-3, 2007.
• Produced by Sahuaro High School, Tucson, Arizona, April 17, 2007.
• Produced by Admiral Thomas H. Moorer Middle School, Efaula, Alabama, 2007-2008.
• Produced by Pickett County High School, Byrdstown, Tenn., 2007-2008.
• Produced by Clearwater Public School, Clearwater, Nebraska, 2007-2008.
• Produced by Garrison High School, Garrison, North Dakota, 2007-2008.
• Produced by Westside Middle School, Omaha, Nebraska, Dec. 13, 2007.
• Produced by St. Joseph High School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, April 29, 2008.
• Produced by Cedar Park Christian School, Everett, Washington, June 12, 2008.
• Produced by Salem Academy, Winston-Salem, N.C., Dec. 3, 2008.
• Produced by Mountain View High School, Mountain View, Wyoming. Dec. 4, 2008.
• Produced by New Berlin High School, New Berlin, Illinois, Oct. 9, 2009.
* Produced by Captain Shreve High School, Shreveport, Louisiana, Nov. 19, 2009.
* Produced by St. Clair County High School, Alabama Dec. 3, 2009.
* Produced by Ogemaw Heights High School, West Branch, Michigan, Dec. 21, 2009.
* Produced by Lincoln-Way North High School, Frankfort, Ill., March 20, 2010.
* Produced by Metter High School, Metter, Georgia, Dec. 2, 2010.
* Produced by Immaculate Heart High School, Tucson, Arizona, Dec. 15, 2010.
* Produced by Wahkiakum High School, Cathlamet, Washington, Dec. 29, 2010.
* Produced by Whitehouse High School, Whitehouse, Texas, Dec. 30, 2010.
* Produced by Scotlandville Magnet High School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dec. 21, 2010.
* Produced by Chambers Public School, Chambers, Nebraska, Dec. 18, 2010.
* Produced by Dogwood Senior Drama, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Nov. 27, 2011.
* Produced by Churchland High School, Portsmouth, Va., Dec. 1, 2011.
* Produced by MN Players, MN Players, Havertown, Pa., Dec. 2, 2011.
* Produced by McEwen High School, McEwen, Tenn., Dec. 19, 2011.
* Produced by ABO School, Onida, South Dakota, January 2012.
* Produced by Cedar Rapids Public School, Cedar Rapids, Nebraska, Nov. 19, 2012.
* Produced by Rock-n-Bach, Frisco, Texas, Nov. 30, 2012.
* Produced by FWISD, Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 20, 2012.
* Produced by Patrick Henry Academy, Estill, South Carolina, Oct. 29, 2013
* Produced by McCool Schools, McCool Junction, Nebraska, Nov. 1, 2013
* Produced by New Underwood School District N. 51-3, New Underwood, South Dakota, Nov. 23, 2013.
* Produced by Mitchell High School, Mitchell, Nebraska, Nov. 26, 2013.
* Produced by Maryvale High School, Phoenix, Arizona, April 29, 2014.
* Produced by Hague High School, Saskatoon, Saskatechawan, May 7, 2014.
* Produced by Curro Private School, Langebaan, South Africa, August 15, 2014
* Produced by Orrville Community Theatre, Dalton, Ohio, December 5, 2014.
* Produced by Backstreet Players, Hanover, Illinois, December 5, 2015.
* Produced by Lockwood High School, Lockwood, Missouri, December 14, 2015
* Produced by Sterling Public Schools, Sterling, Nebraska, November 8, 2016.
THE GENTLE, VIOLENT, IMPERIAL, REVOLUTIONARY, COMPLETE, ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF TEA
The mother of a teen-age girl is preparing for a tea party with the new preacher’s wife, but must run out to the store beforehand and leaves her daughter at home to greet the guest. The teen-age girl plays a trick on the visitor, pretending to be a set of twins — who, of course, are never in the same room at the same time. These “twins” carry on a spirited argument, as they enter and exit, over whether tea should be considered an artifact of imperialism, or a revolutionary statement. Cast: Three females. If you wanted, you could turn the preacher’s wife into the preacher himself, but the part is written with a female in mind.
GOOCHLAND (Alternate title: The new girl)
Three women in prison plot their escape. The bank employee convicted of embezzlement puts her management skills to work, as she tries to recruit two fellow inmates to carry out her plan. But the drug addict and the domestic violence victim who killed her husband wonder whether it’s worth the trouble. Cast: Four — 3 female, 1 non-gender.
*Produced by Coldwater Productions, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, Feb. 28-March 1, 2008.
A GOOD YEAR FOR LIMAS
Set in the rural South on July 31, 1976, the play explores rural life, the 1970s, and America’s future in the space. The date is important — that’s the day NASA was scheduled to announce whether Viking I had found life on Mars. A teen-age girl spends the day shelling lima beans, and anxiously awaiting the news, because she’s convinced it will change her future. To be historically accurate, the play mentions sex and drugs. They are negative references, but may be enough to make some high schools squeamish. Some can be omitted, others are harder to eliminate. Cast: Three females.
THE GIRL WHO MADE EMUS BELIEVE THEY COULD FLY ON CHRISTMAS
An Australian Christmas story. Sort of. A young girl decides that Santa should celebrate an Australian Christmas by having emus full his sleigh. One problem: They’re flightless birds. So she takes it upon herself to teach them to fly. Cast: Eight – four female, two male, two non-gender.
THE GREAT ECLIPSE OF 1878
In 1878, astronomers flocked to the Rocky Mountains to witness a total eclipse of the sun. For many of them, it was a chance to search for the phantom planet Vulcan, which supposedly lay between Mercury and the Sun. This play takes a fanciful look at the event, imagining how residents of one little town might have reacted — seeing the eclipse as a way to make their town famous if Vulcan happened to be discovered by an astronomer observing there. Cast: Cast has five characters — two male and three non-gender. One of the non-gender characters is optional, so you could do this with four players, if desired. Set requirements: Can be minimal, but you’ll need to re-create at least part of a western saloon. The characters need to stand on a bar at one point.
HAMLET GOES HOLLYWOOD
Shakespeare himself is on the set of a Hollywood production of “Hamlet” when the director decides a few modest script changes are in order. Shakespeare objects, the director decides to experiment with setting the show in different genres — police show, science fiction, western, and so forth. The costumes keep changing, as do some of the characters. Ophelia clamors for a role with a sword, Laertes wants a bigger part, and Shakespeare himself eventually tries a rap version. This is the Hamlet version of the popular “Macbeth Goes Hollywood.” Cast: 20 — 8 males, 4 female, 8 non-gender. Running time: One hour.
* Published by Big Dog Plays, 2014.
* Produced by High Meadows School, Roswell, Georgia, October 2014
* Produced by Sabes Jewish Community Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2017.
HAMLET, THE PREQUEL
What happened before Shakespeare’s famous play? This script explores the possibilities. We see Claudius form his plan to kill his brother the king, and begin his experiments with poisons. We see young Hamlet playing with Yorick the jester. And we see, well, many other things that set the stage for the real thing. Cast: Twelve — 6 male, 5 female, 1 non-gender. Running time: Thirty minutes.
* Semi-finalist with Drury University One-Act Playwriting Competition, 2009.
HAMLET ON SPRING BREAK
Instead of going home to Elsinore, the Prince of Denmark goes to the beach with his girlfriend Ophelia, his buddy Horatio, his classmates Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. When Horatio finds out that the king of Denmark has died and the queen has suddenly re-married, he tries to keep the news from Hamlet until the end of the vacation. Comedy ensues, with appearances by the Weird Sisters of Macbeth fame and the daughters of King Lear, all beach-goers. Cast: Eleven — four males, seven females (with doubling, you could get by with four females).
• Produced by Henrico High School, Richmond, Va. at Virginia Theatre Association competition, November 2002. Actress playing Ophelia made the competiton’s all-star cast.
• Produced by Lloyd C. Bird High School, Chesterfield County, Va., February 2004.
• Published 2004 by Playscripts, Inc.
• Produced by Highland Park High School, St. Paul, Minnesota, November 2004.
• Produced by South Tama County High School, Tama, Iowa, January 2005, advanced to state one-act competition.
• Produced by Bogota High School, Bogota, New Jersey, March 2005.
• Produced by Central Kitsap High School, Silverdale, Washington, April 21, 2005.
• Produced by Washington Park High School, Racine, Wisconsin, May 6-7, 2005.
• Classroom performance by Central Cabarrus High School, Concord, N.C., May 2005.
• Produced by Hammond High School, Hammond, La., March 2006.
• Produced by Tiffin Area High School, Tiffin, Ohio, November 17-19, 2006.
• Produced by Leyton High School, Dalton, Nebraska, November 21-December 4, 2006.
• Produced by Lamar Middle School, Flower Mound, Texas, May 1, 2007.
• Produced by North Forsyth High School, Winston-Salem, N.C., May 10, 2007.
• Produced by New Smyrna Beach High School, New Smyrna, Fl., Nov. 8-11, 2007.
* Produced at Tullahoma High School, Tullahoma, Tenn., Nov. 16-17, 2007.
* Produced at Girls Prepatory School, Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan. 12, 2008.
* Produced by Strongsville High School, Strongsville, Ohio, Jan. 31, 2009.
* Produced by Wellsboro High School, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Nov. 3-5, 2009.
* Produced by Theatre Odyssey, Spartanburg, S.C., May 2010.
* Produced by South County Secondary School, Lorton, Va., Feb. 3, 2011.
* Produced by Port Republic School District in Port Republic, N.J, July 2012.
* Produced by Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle, Washington, June 2017.
THE HARTLEPOOL MONKEY-HANGING INCIDENT
Based on the scrap of a true story. In the early 1800s, a French warship sank off the coast of England. The only survivor was the captain’s pet monkey, resplendent in his French naval uniform. The townspeople of Hartlepool captured the poor beast and hung him as a spy. Cast: Eight or nine, depending on doubling, and how you handle the monkey. If 8 characters: 4 male, 3 female, 1 non-gender. If 9 characters: 4 male, 3 female, 2 non-gender.
HIT THE BOOKS
A slapstick farce set in a college dorm. A student studying for exams becomes so frustrated she hits herself in the head with her art history textbook. Suddenly, she thinks she’s the Mona Lisa. Her roommate becomes frantic. A suitemate arrives who thinks the logical thing to do is to hit the woman on the head with another book. Throughout, each time someone gets hit in the head with a book, they instantly acquire command of the subject matter. The scene becomes increasingly more chaotic as the students search for a solution. You’ll need some soft books, because everyone gets hit on the head at least once, and usually more. Cast: Five — four female, one male. Running time: Twenty five minutes.
• Published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals, fall 2009.
• Produced by Northside High School, Roanoke County, Va., Nov. 2, 2009, took first place in district one-act competition.
• Produced by South Hamilton CSD, Jewell, Iowa, March 8, 2010.
• Produced by Castleton Village School, Wells, Vermont, April 6, 2010.
• Produced by Maclay School, Tallahassee, Fla., Jan. 12, 2011.
• Produced by James Madison High School, Vienna, Va., Feb. 17, 2011.
• Produced by Cheyenne Middle School, Cheyenne, Oklahoma, Oct. 15, 2011.
• Produced by Des Lacs-Burlington High School, Des Lacs, North Dakota, Nov. 17, 2011.
• Produced by Nicolet High School, Glendale, Wisconsin, Nov. 18, 2011.
• Produced by Green Mountain High School, Lakewood, Colorado, May 3, 2012.
• Produced by Owens-Withee School District, Owen, Wisconsin, April 1, 2013.
• Produced at Walkersville High School, Walkersville, Maryland, April 12, 2013.
• Produced at Triangle Lake High School, Blachly, Oregon, May 24, 2013.
• Produced by Melstone Public School, Melstone, Montana, Sept. 23, 2013
• Produced by Catholic Central High School, Burlington, Wisconsin, October-December 2013.
• Produced by Shead High School, Eastport, Maine, March 1, 2014.
• Produced by Lafayette County High School, Higginsville, Missouri, Oct. 20, 2014.
* Produced by Girard High School, Girard, Kansas, Dec. 5, 2015.
* Produced by Greater Sioux Falls Home School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, January 30, 2016.
A newspaper clerk forgets to renew the paper’s subscription to the horoscope, so when the feature doesn’t show up, she writes her own. She figures nobody will notice, but instead lots of people start following her wacky advice. One horoscope reader even dons a lion-tamer’s costume in response to the horoscope’s advice. Cast: Eight — four females, two males, two non-gender, plus one non-gender voice.
• Produced by Morehead High School, Eden, N.C., November 2003
• Produced by James River High School, Buchanan, Va., November 2003 in Virginia High School League competition; advanced to state finals. Lead actress took honorable mention for best actress in regionals.
• Produced by Lloyd C. Bird High School, Chesterfield County, Va., February 2004.
THE ICE SCULPTURE
A play about miscommunication. A woman hosting a fund-raiser for her favorite senator orders an elaborate ice sculpture as the table centerpiece, but neglects to tell the catering help what’s in the big box. They think it’s simply ice for the bar and proceed to smash it up. Other complications ensue. You’ll need a big box, and some pieces of ice, but won’t need to show an actual ice sculpture. Cast: 6 — 3 male, 3 female, although two of the male characters could be turned into female if necessary.
• Produced by Southside Virginia Community College, Keysville, Va., April 2004.
A vampire story, and a crime story combined. A Los Angeles police officer investigates a murder — and is led to a vampire. Cast: 11-13, depending on staging: 5 female, 1 non-gender, 5-7 male.
IT’S REAL TO ME
A doctor devises a way to transplant memories from one person to another. It’s a form of therapy, a way to give one person’s surplus happy memories to those who have suffer from depression or some traumatic incident. But when one woman gets a memory transplant to overcome her depression, something goes wrong. She wakes up with a memory of killing someone. It’s a repressed memory that the donor had given away. A dark, serious piece. Cast: Nine: Four female, one male, four non-gender. With option of adding a tenth, non-gender, character with two lines. Running time: 30 minutes.
* Produced at Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, New Jersey, June 1-4, 2017.
JACK AND WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE BEANSTALK
Jack and his mother are living in luxury, when the con man who tricked Jack out of his cow in return for some magic beans comes back into their life and tries to trick them again. Except this time the show also features Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, the seven dwarves, the Big Bad Wolf, the ugly stepsisters from Cinderella. Cast: 13 — 6 male, 7 female. You can add six non-speaking males if you want to show all seven dwarves. Running time: 30 minutes.
JEFFERSON AND NAPOLEON
A playful (but historically accurate) look at how the Louisiana Purchase really came to be, with Jefferson and Napoleon each trying to snooker the other side. Jefferson dreamed of finding griffins in the wilderness, while plotting to seize the territory militarily if need be, but then computed the price of gunpowder. Napoleon figured he could pocket the cash, then invade later if he wanted and have it both ways. Includes a French fashion show (with beaver pelts), westerners clamoring for war, and French bureaucrats giving Americans the run-around. Cast: Cast has a large number of speaking parts, but with doubling can be performed with as few as eight players, with at least one female. Most of the roles are identifiably male. However, don’t feel constrained by gender. Some non-traditional casting might be interesting here. Time: About 45 minutes.
JENNA AND HER PRIZE-WINNING PIG CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY
A bored teen-ager with a vivid imagination creates havoc at the county fair, involving a TV crew and two glad-handing politicians, when she gets them arguing over a non-existent bill before Congress. Cast: Ten — three female, three male and four of either gender. Set requirements: Minimal, although it would help to have a television camera and microphone.
• Produced by Chancellor High School, Fredericksburg, Va., November 2003 in Virginia High School League competition; advanced to regionals. Actress playing Jenna won best actress in district competition; actress playing Kelly took second place.
• Produced by Southside Virginia Community College, Keysville, Va., April 2004.
* Published by Playscripts, 2007.
* Produced by Lewis and Clark School District, Minot, North Dakota, November 2014.
JENNY’S JI-NORMOUS JAR OF EYEBALLS
A woman comes home from a yard sale with a rare find — a jar of eyeballs. She sets the jar on the kitchen table and goes off to run some errands. Meanwhile, others in the family and the neighborhood come through and mistake the eyeballs for other things — marshmallows, eggs, golf balls, devilled eggs — and proceed to make use of them. By the time the woman returns, the eyeballs are gone, but her household is in an uproar. Yes, this is a comedy. Cast: Seven — 4 male, 3 female. Running time: Thirty minutes.
JILL AND THE BEANSTALK
Jill’s science project results in a beanstalk through the school’s ceiling. Comedy and chaos ensue, along with a goose that lays golden eggs, a harp that plays itself and, perhaps, even a rumor of a giant. Cast: Seven — 3 male, 3 female, 1 non-gender. Running time: Twenty minutes.
* Staged reading by Mitchell Community Public Library, Mitchell, Indiana, February 2016.
* Scheduled to be produced by Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville, Virginia, December 2016.
JOY TO OTHER WORLDS
A man’s display of Christmas lights flashing to the tune of “Joy to The World” attracts the attention of an alien race, which struggles to interpret the transmission. Cast: Nine — Four male, three female, two non-gender or one male, six females, two non-gender.
* Version A produced by Back Yard Theatre Company, Steinbach, Manitoba, December 2014.
* Version B produced by Millard County Schools, Utah, December 2016.
* Version B scheduled to be produced by Otherworld Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, November 2017.
JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE
A young woman is sent on a mission to raid another department for supplies. She comes back as the CEO. A play about sexism in the workplace. Cast: 18 — 12 male, 6 female.
THE KISSING CONSULTANT
A woman in her 20s plots revenge against her former high school friend. She sneaks into her former friend’s wedding rehearsal and presents herself as the “kissing consultant” and proceeds to, well, consult with the unsuspecting groom. Dialogue and themes are G-rated, but there is a lot of kissing. Cast: Eight — five females, two males and one non-gender.
• Produced by Mount Vernon High School, Fairfax County, Va., January 2006.
* Published by Brooklyn Publishing, spring 2006.
. * Produced by Souderton Area High School, Souderton, Pennsylvania, 2007-2008.
* Produced by Sawyer Public School, Sawyer, North Dakota, Nov. 5, 2009.
* Produced by Chatfield High School, Chatfield, Minnesota, May 28, 2010.
* Produced by Athlone, GHS, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 20, 2011.
* Produced by Crestview High School, Crestview, Florida, January 8, 2015.
LARRY’S NEW GUARDIAN ANGEL
A wayward country music singer wakes up in a hotel room to find the sprinkler system pouring water on him — and a strange woman with a lit cigarette trying to cut it off. She turns out to be his new guardian angel, with a deadline to turn the singer’s spiritual life around — or they’re both going to hell. Rated PG-13. Cast: At least 5 — 2 male, 2 female, 1 non-gender, with up to four non-gender voices who could be brought on stage if you wish.
• Third place, New Voice Play Festival, Charles Town, W. Va., 2004; staged reading June 2004.
THE LAST FLIGHT OF IRINA IVANOVA
Loosely based on the spaceflight of Valentina Tereshkova, who in 1963
became the first woman in space — scoring yet another Soviet space
spectacular. She was one of five women in training for the honor, and was a
last-minute selection. This play envisions the regret and bitterness of the
women who weren’t selected, and who never flew in space. On her
deathbed, Irina Ivanova “remembers” how history would have been had she
been selected to be the first woman in space, and she re-enacts it in her
mind — in the form of giving an interview to a filmmaker doing a
documentary on her life. Cast: Four — two females, one male, one non-
gender. One of the female roles can easily be split in two to make one
female and one male part, which would increase the cast to five — two
females, two males, and one non-gender.
• Passed initial screening in 2003 Pittsburgh New Works Festival. One judge gave it an 89 out of a possible 100 and wrote: “This is a very lovely play and I enjoyed it a lot. The ending is so lovely and sad . . . with a good director, this could be a really enjoyable show.”
THE LAST ZETA OF ‘38 (male version)
A college prank from the ‘30s has consequences to this day. The Zetas from the class of ‘38 are still passing around a statue they stole from the college as a fraternity initiation rite. When the last Zeta dies, his grandson is
faced with the question of what to do with the statue. See also female version; same plot, different genders. Cast: Ten — nine male, one female. Set requirements: Minimal, but you’ll need a statue of a lion.
THE LAST ZETA OF ‘38 (female version)
A college prank from the ‘30s has consequences to this day. The Zetas from the class of ‘38 are still passing around a statue they stole from the college as a sorority initiation rite. When the last Zeta dies, her granddaughter is faced with the question of what to do with the statue. See also male version; same plot, different genders. Cast: Ten. Can be nine female, one male or eight female, two male or seven female, three male. Set requirements: Minimal, but you’ll need a statue of a lion.
• Produced by Morehead High School, Eden, N.C., November 2003.
LET THERE BE LIGHTS!
Two neighbors plot to see who can put on the biggest display of Christmas lights, with comical, and catastrophic, results. Cast: Eight — two adult males, two adult females, two teen-age males, two teen-age females. Running time: 30 minutes.
* Staged reading at Seton Hall University, Seton Hall, New Jersey, December 2015..
LETTERS TO THE MONA LISA
The woman in the famous painting steps out of the frame one night and asks a security guard to fetch her fan mail, which he does. A succession of letter writers appear – doctors who want to diagnose various conditions they think they see in her face, a suitor who wants to marry her, a crackpot, a paranoid senior citizen concerned about her security ,and more. In the end, the Mona Lisa has some shrewd advice. Cast: Seven — – 2 female, 4 male, 1 non-gender, although two of the two roles could be converted to female parts if necessary, to make a cast of 4 female, 2 male and 1 non-gender. The cast of seven assumes that some of the male letter writers are doubled as indicated .If not doubled, the cast size would increase to ten — with the three additional characters being male. Ultimately, two characters — one male, one female — have the bulk of the lines so in some ways this is a two-person cast with five colorful extras. Running time: 30 minutes.
• Finalist, Geneva Theatre Guild one-act competition,, Geneva, New York, 2007.
THE LIFE LIST
When a birdwatching enthusiast battles cancer, a neighbor tries to cheer her up buying canaries and painting them to look like birds the sick woman has never seen before. While there are comedic elements, the ultimate effect of the script is intended to be dramatic. The title is a reference to the “life list” that birders keep to record all the different species they have seen in a lifetime. Cast: Four – 2 male, 2 female. The script makes no specific reference to the ages of the two couples involved, but it would work best if they are the same age. The playwright envisions them as retired couples, but recognizes they could be done as younger couples, as well. Running time: 30 minutes.
It’s 1940, and Britain stands alone against Nazi Germany. The Ministry of Information mounts a propaganda campaign to rally public spirits. A young woman working for the ministry is assigned to find an old Antarctic explorer and put him out on a speaking tour. But when she finds him, she is horrified by what he did. A dark look at how heroes are made. Cast: Four: Three female, one male.
THE LOST SYMPHONY OF VLADIMIR PETROV
A horror story, inspired by the works of acclaimed science fiction writers H.P. Lovecraft and Mike Allen. A Russian composer discovers that a certain sequence of notes functions as a sonic key — a combination — to unlock an alternative universe full of unspeakable horrors. Now, a century after his work was suppressed, the music is rediscovered — and a retired KGB agent attempts to halt the performance. He fails. Includes a small video component. Cast: Twelve — five female, six male, one non-gender.
The devil wants a book written about herself — yes, herself — so she
kidnaps a writer and brings him to hell for an interview. She explains why
she’s a necessary evil; he tries to get out of the deal. A comedy, with various
topical references. Cast: Four, plus an off-stage voice. One
female, two males, one non-gender, although probably works best as a
male. Still, you have can fun casting females in the two male roles. The off-
stage voice is female.
• First place, 18th Annual Henrico Theatre Company Playwriting Contest,
2003. (Out of 163 entries nationwide.)
• Produced by Henrico Theatre Company, Richmond, Va., February 2004.
* Produced by the Shakespeare Club, Bangor, Maine, February 2010.
* Staged reading as a radio play by Falcon Radio Theatre, KSPU, Seattle Pacific University, February 7, 2013.
MAC AND BETH
A young couple has just robbed a bank. The dye pack in the bag of money has exploded, covering Beth’s hands with ink. Now she and Mac are in a laundromat, trying to clean themselves, and the money, when suddenly things start unfolding an awful lot like “Macbeth,” from the arrival of a Sheriff MacDuff and three weird sisters with laundry to do. Cast: 6 —two male, four females. Set requirements: Minimal, but you’ll need some clothes washers and driers.
• Staged reading, American Shakespeare Center (formerly Shenandoah Shakespeare), Staunton, Va., April 24, 2005.
* Published by Brooklyn Publishing, 2010.
• Produced by Lutheran High School East, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Nov. 12, 2010.
• Produced by inwardBound in Singapore, April 1, 2013.
• Produced by Accomack County Public Schools, Chincoteague, Virginia, Oct. 13, 2014.
* Produced by Cascade Christian School, Puyallup, Washignton, January 28, 2016.
* Produced by St. Petersburg High School, St. Petersburg, Florida, December 2, 2016.
The three witches of “Macbeth” fame try to relax on the beach while a surfing competition take place. The surfing king is named Duncan, the plot follows that of Shakespeare’s original. Duncan drowns, Macbeth takes his place, and all the rest. Note: The beginning is similar to the opening of “The Weird Sisters on Holiday.” Cast: Seven — 4 female, 3 male.
• Staged reading, American Shakespeare Center (formerly Shenandoah Shakespeare), Staunton, Va., April 24, 2005.
MACBETH GOES HOLLYWOOD
Shakespeare’s agent options his script for “Macbeth” to a Hollywood producer, who wants a few script changes to make it more contemporary. That leads to the witches alternating as a country singer, a rapper, a punk rocker, and a romp through other genres — Macbeth as a gangster, with Lady Macbeth as a gun moll; the final showdown between Macbeth and MacDuff done as a Western, and so forth. Involves frequent costume changes. Cast : 12 — 4 male, 4 female, 4 non-gender. Running time: One hour.
• Published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals, 2005.
• Produced November 2005 by Millard North Middle School, Omaha, Nebraska.
• Produced November 2005 by Drummond High School, Drummond, Montana.
• Produced February 7, 2006 by Central Prairie Middle School, Eden, Minnesota.
•Produced March 11, 2006 by West Florence High School, Florence, S.C.
• Produced April 20, 2006 by Huntingdon High School, Huntingdon, Tennessee.
• Produced April 22, 2006 by Paris High School, Paris, Kentucky.
• Produced May 15, 2006 by Henry County School, New Castle, Kentucky.
• Produced Sept. 15, 2006 Southern High School, Wymore, Nebraska..
• Produced May 12, 2007 by Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Ark
* Produced by Wadsworth High School, Wadsworth, Ohio, May 1, 2008
* Produced by Ashland High School, Ashland, Kansas, November 2008.
* Produced by Kennedy Middle School, Plainfield, Ill., March 27, 2009
* Produced by Waubay High School, Waubay, South Dakota, April 24, 2009.
* Produced by American Christian Academy, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, May 7, 2009.
* Produced by Ahern Middle School, Foxborough, Mass., Feb. 2, 2010.
* Produced by Gallatin High School, Gallatin, Tenn., Feb. 10, 2010.
* Produced by Loranger Middle School, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, April 30, 2010.
* Produced by East Lee Middle School, Sanford, N.C., May 10, 2010.
* Produced by Southwest High School, Bartley, Nebraska, Nov. 22, 2010.
* Produced by Woodland High School, Dorchester, S.C., Dec. 16, 2010.
* Produced by Reviving the Spirit, Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia, May 27, 2011.
* Produced by Dixon High School, Dixon, Missouri, Oct. 27, 2011.
* Produced by Fredericksburg Christian High School, Fredericksburg, Va., March 15 2012
* Produced by School District 194, Steger, Illinois, October 31, 2012.
* Produced by Malta Junior-Senior High School, Malta, Montana, April 25, 2013.
* Produced by Pathways School Gurgaon, Gurgaon, India, Nov. 16, 2013.
* Produced by Four Points Middle School, Austin, Texas, Dec. 5, 2013.
* Produced by York Comprehensive High School, York, S.C., April 25, 2014.
* Produced by Crawford County High School, Salem, Indiana, May 16, 2014.
* Produced by Collier High School, Wickatunk, New Jersey, Dec. 1, 2014.
* Produced by Gull Lake High School, Richland, Michigan, Feb. 6, 2015.
MACBETH, THE PREQUEL
What happened before Shakespeare’s famous play? We begin with the birth of Lady Macbeth, and a curse put upon her head that sets in motion all that is to follow. Using many of Shakespeare’s own words, the play examines how Lady Macbeth became both ambitious and murderous, and how she came to marry Macbeth. Cast: Eight — Five female, three male.
* Produced by The Grandin Ensemble, Roanoke, Va., November 3, 2012.
THE MAKING OF THE KING 1483
Shakespeare had his version of Richard III. Here’s another, looking at how Richard seized the throne. This is a modern telling, complete with press secretaries, pollsters, media coverage and cellphones. Beyond that, it’s historically correct. Can stand on its own or, produced in conjunction with “The Making of the King 1485,” can be part of a full-length show. Cast: 14 — one female, seven male, seven non-gender.
THE MAKING OF THE KING 1485
Shakespeare had his version of Richard III. Here’s another, looking at how Richard lost the throne to Henry Tudor. This is a modern telling, complete with press secretaries, pollsters, media coverage and cellphones. Beyond that, it’s historically correct. Can stand on its own or, produced in conjunction with “The Making of the King 1483,” can be part of a full-length show. Cast: 18 — one female, six male, 11 non-gender.
A MARTIAN WESTERN
Mars is drying up. A roughneck laborer and a civil engineer building canals find themselves in a Old West-style saloon looking for a drink of water when a rancher and a farmer find themselves in a showdown over who’s responsible for a dried-up well. The overriding theme: Lawlessness. Cast: 8 — four male, four non-gender.
MELANIE’S LAWS OF EMOTION
Two women discuss their love lives, while Isaac Newton shoots pool in the background. One of the women outlines what she calls “Melanie’s Laws of Emotion,” which Isaac overhears and turns into his famous physics principles. Involves a pool table, a jukebox and one of the women throwing a drink on someone. Cast: Five — three females, two males. Set requirements: Minimal, although you’ll need to give the appearance of an inside of a pool hall. Specifically, you’ll need a pool table, a jukebox and some tables and chairs.
THE MERMAIDS OF TURN THREE
It’s the day before the Daytona 500, and a family is at the beach, anticipating the race. The ne’er-do-well younger brother goes surf fishing and hauls in a big catch — a mermaid. He wants to keep her, and mayhem ensues that involves the older brother, his wife and her mother. There are two mermaids in the show, and that will be a costume challenge. Cast: Six — four females, two males. Running time: Thirty minutes.
A MIDWINTER’S DAY DREAM
A student daydreams during an English class lecture on Shakespeare’s “Midsummer’s Night Dream” and finds herself transformed into Puck and her classmates into other characters from the fairy scene. Cast: Nine — 4 female, 4 male and 1 non-gender best played as female to make a cast of 5 female, 4 male. Running time: Fifteen minutes.
MISS MITCHELL’S COMET
A one-act taken from the full-length script of the same name. Cast: Variable. Optimum size would be 25 — 11 male, 14 female. With extreme doubling, cast could be as small as 10 players — 4 male, 6 female. Or you could pick some number in between. Running time: One hour.
• Finalist, The Barebones Festival, Vortex Repertory Theatre, Austin, Texas, May 2005. (Final nine out of 32.)
THE MONEY HOUSE
When Jeremy was a child, his grandmother had him hide her fortune in her house. She didn’t believe in banks. A family feud has caused her house to be sold and it’s been outside for the family for many years now — but the fortune is presumably still inside. Now the house is on the market, Jeremy resolves to get the family fortune back. He finds a woman in a coffee shop to pretend to be his wife, and asks her to keep the real estate agent busy while he pries loose some boards and gets the money. But the woman he recruits isn’t very good at pretending, and comedy ensues. Cast: Three — 2 female, 1 male. Running time: 30 minutes.
* Produced by Christiansburg High School, Christiansburg, Va. Feb. 2011.
* Staged reading by Readers Repertory Theatre, Los Angeles, October 2016.
THE MONKEY AT THE WEDDING
A wedding goes afoul when the ringbearer — a monkey — swallows the ring. Chaos, and comedy, ensues. Features a motorcycle gang, and someone in a monkey suit. Cast: 12 or 13 — 5 male, 5 or 6 female, 2 non-gender. Running time: 30 minutes.
* Produced at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Massachusetts, May 2015.
Set in Richmond, Virginia, among the Confederate statues along Monument Avenue. Involves two women in their late 20s or early 30s who were college roommates — one from New Jersey, one from the South. The New Jersey woman has just been dumped by her boyfriend and is having a hard time coping; her Richmond friend tells to just forget about the guy. The New Jersey woman responds by asking when the Richmonder is going to forget about all those Civil War statues. A rambling, robust exploration of cultural differences ensues. Cast: Two females, plus a voice on the radio. Set requirements: You’ll need to somehow show a stove, a kitchen table and a windowsill.
• Honorable mention, 2003 New Voice Play Festival, Charles Town, W.Va.
• Staged reading at Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Va., November 2003 as part of Flournoy Play Festival.
• Produced at J.R. Tucker High School, Richmond, Va., May 2004.
MY GIRLFRIEND’S STUPID TALKING PARROT
A woman buys a talking parrot, which causes a rift with her boyfriend. The troublesome bird turns out to have been the victim of a voodoo curse – it’s really a pirate, who buried a treasure in the Caribbean centuries ago, then cheated his shipmates out of the loot. The parrot persuades the woman, and her boyfriend, to help him retrieve the treasure. But the boyfriend winds up walking the plank, instead. Cast: Five or seven. If five, 2 male, 1 female, 2 non-gender. If seven, 3 male, 1 female, 3 non-gender. Set requirements: You only need to hint at a talking parrot, not actually show one.
• Published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals, 2005.
* Produced by Great Mills High School, Great Mills, Maryland, April 20, 2006.
* Produced by Verona High School, Verona, Missouri, October 2007.
A modern-day comedy of manners that looks at the trend of giving children either unusual names or common names with unusual spellings. Imagine, then, a day when such spellings are outlawed, and a young woman named Kristi — that’s Kristi with a K and an I, two “deviant” spellings — finds herself in court. TV talk shows chatter about the case, police deal with crowd control outside the courtroom, and the judge is not amused. Cast: 23 or 19 (four parts are quite small and can be easily doubled). If 23, then 3 female, 3 male, 17 non-gender. If 19, then 3 female, 3 male, 13 non-gender. With more doubling, the cast could be reduced into the mid-to-low teens. Running time: 30 minutes.
A romp of modern-day social manners which deals with both the trend to give ‘unusual’ names to children and the trend to sell the naming rights to stadiums and other buildings. First, a woman names her daughter after her favorite company. When the daughter grows up, the company sues for trademark infringement — and wins back its name, leaving her nameless. She then responds by auctioning off her own naming rights. She signs a deal call herself MegaWorld, which works just fine until the MegaWorld Corporation goes bankrupt. Cast: 10-15 — at least 3 male, 5 female, up to 5 male, 5 female, 5 non-gender. Running time: 35 minutes.
NEPTUNE AND ATLANTIS: A frog love story
Two frogs find themselves in an adventure when a witch turns one of them into a handsome prince so her daughter can have a date for the ball. The frog’s beloved then seeks to have herself turned into a human so she can be with him. Cast: 12 – 7 female, 4 male, 1 non-gender. Or, can be expanded to a cast of 15 with 7 female, 7 male, 1 non-gender.
THE NEW SEVEN DEADLY SINS
The seven deadly sins take life on stage, with each actor exhibiting the characteristics of that particular sin. The sins decide they need to expand their numbers and proceed to audition 15 new sins. Cast: 10-22, all non-gender, but a few roles are best suited for men or women. The script calls for the seven deadly sins to be on stage at the same time, then the other sins enter and exit in groups of three, so you could have three actors double all the proposed sins, or divide them among up to 15 actors. Running time: One hour.
A science fiction tale about the nature of time. There are three versions of
the script. All involve a band of ruffians called the Nickers who spend their
time stealing — or “nicking” — things. In version 1, they steal intangibles,
which they turn into tangibles — hearts, attention, faith, you name it, but time has eluded them until now. In versions 2 and 3, they are more ordinary shoplifters who encounter a professor who has figured out how to put time in a bottle, and steal the bottle. Cast: Versions one and two: 11 — 1 female,
4 male, 6 non-gender. Version three: 12 — 1 female, 4 male, 7 non-gender.
Every business has one job that sums up the ugly essence of what the business is about. In the funeral business, it’s the fellow who digs the hole. In the hamburger business, it’s the person who kills the cow. In the newspaper business, it’s the night police beat, or “night cops,” as it’s known in the trade. This play looks at the underbelly of the newsroom, the night shift reporter whose job it is to deal with police at odd hours. Cast: Cast has a large number of speaking parts, but with doubling can be performed with as few as six players — at least one female; at least three males, the rest are not gender-specific. When this was first performed, there was a cast of eight.
• Produced at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.; December 1988.
THE NORTH FORK NINE
This is a play about baseball and steroids — in the 1880s. A small town druggist concocts a potion that makes the players on the hometown team stronger, but their newfound athletic prowess raises questions. A rival responds by spying on the team to learn their secret, then murdering the druggist — for the good of the game. Cast: Nine males, ideally eight adults and one boy as the newsboy. Running time: Twenty five minutes.
A detective is assigned to the nursery crimes unit. He begins by investigating the case of Humpty Dumpty. Did he jump or was he pushed? Lots of colorful characters ensue. Cast: 7 to 19. Minimum cast of 7: 3 female, 3 male, 1 non-gender. Maximum cast of 19: 6 female, 8 male, 5 non-gender. Or any combination in between. Running time: 30 minutes.
* Produced by Stonewall Jackson High School, Mount Jackson, Va., March 13-14, 2009.
* Produced by Esk-Dale High School, Millard County, Utah, March 2017.
When their mother becomes terminally ill, three adult siblings return home — each attempting to conceal their occupation. One is a mercenary, one is a prostitute, one is a professional thief. Each is proud of his or her field in their own way. A drama that explores relationships. Set in 1977. Cast: Three — two male, one female.
* Produced as a radio play on Falcon Radio Theatre, KSPU.org, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington, January 31, 2013.
* Produced as radio play on Viking Radio Theatre, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, 2014.
ONE MAGIC NIGHT
The rat who was turned into a coachman to drive Cinderella to the ball in a pumpkin carriage — and then turned back into a rat at midnight — longs to recapture the glory of that one magic night. Or is he simply crazy? Cast: Seven – five females, two male.
THE ONE-WORD ANTIGONE
The classic Greek drama Antigone, more or less, in which each line consists of just a single word. Ideal for a class project. Cast: 10 – 3 female, 4 female, 3 non-gender.. Running time: Twenty five minutes.
THE ONE-WORD HAMLET (fifteen-minute version)
The story of Hamlet, much condensed, in which each actor speaks only one word at a time. Cast: Thirteen — 11 males, 2 females. There’s potential to double two male roles. Running time: Fifteen minutes.
• The eight-minute version of this script was performed in a staged reading in Herring Run Arts Fest, Middleborough, Mass., September 2005.
THE ONE-WORD MACBETH
The Macbeth story, told with each character speaking lines that cost of only one word. Complete with witches and sword-fights, but limited dialogue. Cast: Ten or twelve or fourteen. If ten, 4 male, 4 female, 2 non-gender. If twelve, 4 male, 4 female, 4 non-gender. If fourteen, 4 male, 4 female, 6 non-gender. Running time: 45 minutes.
* Produced by West High School, West, Texas, Feb. 16, 2008.
* Produced by Pop Culture Theatre, Melbourne, Australia, numerous festivals July-October, 2015.
* Scheduled to be published by Brooklyn Publishing, 2017.
THE ONE-WORD ODYSSEY
The story of the Odyssey, more or less, in which each line consists of just a single word. Ideal for a class project. Includes monsters and a talking hamburger. Cast: As few as 18 — 9 males, 3 females, 6 non-gender — or as many as 33 — 17 males, 7 females, 9 non-gender. Running time: One hour.
THE ONE-WORD ROMEO AND JULIET (fifteen-minute version)
The essence of the Romeo and Juliet story, in one scene, with each
character uttering just one word at a time. Cast: Seven — 6 male, 1 female.
There’s also a slightly inaccurate version that can be done with a cast of four
3 male, 1 female. Running time: Fifteen minutes.
A play that deals with the intersection of communism, democracy — and vampires. On one level, this is simply a vampire story. On a deeper level, it’s about how society and ‘be careful what you ask for.” The story is set in 1990 Romania, just after the fall of communism. The new democratic government is inspecting the basement of the interior ministry, when two members of the new government are murdered, and their bodies drained of blood. The government sets out to investigate, and discovers that in the early days of communist Romania, a vampire had been captured — and locked in a coffin. Now it’s loose again. The government tracks down an old man who had helped in the original capture and he tells the story in flashback style. Cast: 9 to 13. If a cast of 9 — 8 male, 1 female. If a cast of 13 — 10 male, 1 female, 2 non-gender.
PASS THE PEPPER, PLEASE
A farce about a grocery store clerk, who finds herself re-stocking the spice shelf. Everyone who passes by suddenly turns into a figure from history, who acts out some aspect of the history of pepper — from the barbarians sacking Rome to Magellan’s trip around the world. The clerk is baffled, to say the least. Cast: Six players. The conventional line-up would be three females, three males, although you could use up to six females and no males, if necessary. Set requirements: Minimal, except for an aisle of a supermarket, with spices on the shelves, and a bunch of boxes to be carried.
THE PI OF MAGGIE
Three female astronomers sit around the observatory one cloudy night
and compare tattoos — and the stories behind them. The biggest belongs
to Maggie, who has pi, calculated to nearly 200 places, tattooed on her
back. She acts out how that happened, and what reaction she gets to it.
Involves a drink being thrown in someone’s face. There’s also a five-minute
version of this script. Cast: Four females, two males — although one of the
male parts can be split into four very tiny parts if you want to boost the
number of players. Note: Yes, you’ll need to put pi on Maggie’s back for all to
see. Running time: 15 minutes.
• Produced May 2004 by Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall School, Waltham, Mass.
PLANTAGENET VS. SHAKESPEARE
An absurdist (but perhaps educational) comedy. A rehearsal for a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III is interrupted when the historical King Richard III files suit against The Bard for defamation. TV talk shows debate the merits of the suit; Richard and Shakespeare take to interview shows to make their cases, and other historical figures line up as supporters of both sides. A trial is held, and audience members are selected to serve as the jury — with two alternate endings depending on the verdict. Cameo appearances by Richard Nixon and numerous other cultural icons. Cast: Cast has a large number of speaking parts which would make it well-suited for a class project, but with doubling can be performed with as few as 10 players — at least one female, at least five males, the rest are not gender-specific. Time: About 45 minutes.
• Produced at Buffalo Gap High School; Swoope, Va.; November 2002
Nearly thirty years ago, a high school player fumbled the ball in a big football game and cost his team the game. His punishment? Banishment. Now, he sneaks into town under an assumed name and talks his way into coaching again — in a powder puff football game. A poignant story. Cast: Four female, one male, two non-gender, plus two male voices which can be recorded, if necessary.
THE PUMPKIN LAUNCHER
An absurdist look at following instructions — and pumpkins. A college
engineering class is given a homework assignment to build a contraption
that will launch pumpkins. Three groups of students have three different
approaches and three different problems; and then there’s the punked-out
farmer’s daughter manning the pumpkin stand who objects to the idea and
refuses to sell pumpkins to be smashed up. Cast size: 11 — 1 male, 1
female, 9 non-gender. Set requirements: None, but you’ll need lots of
pumpkins. None get smashed, but they do get carried around a lot.
THE QUANTUM CURVEBALL
A baseball player in the future throws the ball so fast that it rips a hole in space and time and arrives in the present day. Complications ensue. Cast: 11 – 10 males, 1 female. Running time: 15-20 minutes.
READING BETWEEN THE LINES
A wise and patient newspaper editor counsels a young and over-eager
reporter that not everything can be printed, that some things readers will just have to read between the lines. They then get their wish, when the
newspapers that roll off the press mysteriously give “the real story” between the lines — with hilarious and disastrous results. Includes some PG humor referencing undergarments and flatulence. Cast: 6 — feel free to mix and match genders as necessary. Only two parts need be male, so the
most obvious line-up would be 2 male, 4 non-gender, plus a female voice
off-stage. Set requirements: You’ll need a few desks and phones to hint at
a newspaper newsroom.
• Finalist, Brevard Little Theatre One-Act Competition, Brevard, N.C., 2004.
REAL GONE GIRL
Set on a rockabilly radio show in 1958. A girl calls in to play a song she’s written. The song soon becomes one of the most-requested songs on the station — and the station brass is looking to promote her — until they find out she’s just gotten married and is expecting a baby — a double scandal in those years. The show has a cast of seven, but five appear as voices, including the star character of the girl. Only two males actually appear on stage. Cast: Seven — two males on stage; the voices of three females and two males off-stage. Running time: Thirty minutes.
RED MOON RISING IN THE EAST
A one-act taken from the full-length script of the same name. Based on the
life of Sergei Korolev, the mastermind of the Soviet space program.
Because his name was a state secret in the Soviet Union, he is virtually
known in the West, but he is almost single-handedly responsible for the
space race — he launched the first satellite, the first animal into space, the
first satellite to the moon, the first man in space, the first woman in space,
and many other space firsts long before the Americans. Korolev was a
visionary engineer who was first jailed under Stalin’s purges for his
experiments, and then released when Stalin understood the need for a
missile program. Korolev died tragically, in 1966, and the Soviet moon
program died with him. The one-act focuses on the launch of the first
sputnik. Cast: Variable. Optimum size would be 18 — 13 male, 2
female, 3 non-gender. With extreme doubling, cast could be as small as 8
— 6 male, 2 female, plus several voices. Or you could pick some number in
— between. Running time: One hour.
RED, RIPE AND ROUND (hour-long version)
The glorious and unlikely history of the tomato in story and song
Imagine a variety show that traces the history of the tomato in story and
song, with your hosts, Better Boy and Early Girl. Somehow, this play
manages to reference Frank Sinatra, Ringo Starr, the Boston Red Sox,
Thomas Jefferson and other cultural icons. Includes a look at the famous
Supreme Court case in 1893 over whether tomatoes were fruit or
vegetables. Includes some singing. Cast: 8 — 4 male, 4 female. Running
time: 1 hour.
• Published by Norman Maine Publishing / Big Dog Publishing, spring 2006.
* Produced by Shiloh Middle School, Taneytown, Maryland, October 2008.
* Produced by Pleasant Hill Elementary School, Aurora, Illinois, 2009.
* Produced by Old York School, Brandenburg, N.J., fall 2009.
* Produced by Independent Day School, Middlefield, Ct., Sept. 2011.
RED, RIPE AND ROUND (30-minute original version)
The glorious and unlikely history of the tomato
The history of the tomato, as told through two alternating scenes. In one, two people argue in a kitchen over how best to serve tomatoes. In another, three kids in the early 1800s sneak into a neighbor’s garden to catch a glimpse of the first tomato in the county — this at a time when tomatoes were thought to be poisonous. And then there’s a librarian, who turns up a wide-ranging assortment of odd tomato facts. Somehow, this play manages to reference Frank Sinatra, Ringo Starr, the Boston Red Sox, Thomas Jefferson and other cultural icons. Cast: Six or eight characters of either gender.
REVENGE IS SWEET WITH A SLIGHT AFTERTASTE OF IRONY
A famous food critic visits a restaurant. The manager wants desperately to please him; the chef wants revenge. Dark comedy and slapstick ensues. Cast: Six — four male, two female. Running time: Fifteen minutes.
* Produced by Congleton Players, Congleton, England, July 19, 2014.
Sixty years after a close call in a state championship girls basketball game, the star of the losing team still can’t reconcile herself to losing — so she breaks into the home of the star player on the winning team, hoping to steal her championship ring. A poignant story about regrets and sportsmanship. Cast: Two senior females.
* Produced by Haylofters, Burlington, Wisconsin, May 2014; took second place in audience vote at one-act festival.
* Staged reading by Readers Repertory Theatre at San Pedro, Los Angeles, February 2015.
THE RULES ARE THE RULES ARE THE RULES
A farce set on an airplane. A male passenger has apparently died, and the flight attendants carry him up to first class, telling other passengers he’s simply drunk. The chief flight attendant, though, insists they go by the book and perform CPR and mouth-to-mouth on the hapless victim until the plane lands. The other flight attendants devise ways to skirt those rules, with increasing hilarity. That hilarity hits its peak when it turns out the man isn’t dead, after all. Cast: Five — four female, one male. Running time: Thirty minutes.
* Produced by the Castle Players, Lytchett Matravers Village Hall, near Poole, England. Feb. 18-29, 2011.
* Scheduled to be produced by the Glasstown Players, Wallaceburg, Ontario, June 17-18, 2017.
* Scheduled to be produced by Pop Culture Theatre, Melbourne, Australia, July-September, 2017.
An elevator at a busy shopping mall just before Christmas gets stuck, stranding Santa, his helper, a bored cashier, a shoplifter, an old man who hates shopping and a clueless mother with two precocious children. Santa struggles to stay in character while the elevator gets stuffy, and tempers fray. Cast: Eleven. There are eight main characters — 2 male, 3 female, 3 non-gender (includes two children) — plus three characters who appear only at the end and have only one or two lines. Those three are 1 male, 2 non-gender. So the grand total is 3 male, 3 female, and 5 non-gender (including two non-gender children.) Running time: 30 minutes.
• Published by Norman Maine Publishing / Big Dog Publishing, December 2005.
• Produced by Cardinal Mooney High School, Youngstown, Ohio., Dec. 8-10, 2006.
• Produced by Buford Middle School, Lancaster, S.C., Dec. 14, 2006.
• Produced by Summit Academy, Romulus, Michigan, Dec. 19-20, 2006.
• Produced by Kenneth Cooper Middle School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, fall 2007.
•Produced by Ripley High School, Ripley, West Virginia, fall 2007.
•Produced by C.F. Simmons Middle School, Aurora, Illinois, fall 2007.
•Produced by Amory High School, Amory, Mississippi, fall 2007.
•Produced by Jordan Valley High School, Jordan Valley, Oregon, fall 2007.
* Produced by Coosa High School, Rome, Georgia, November 2008.
* Produced by Valley Mills High School, Valley Mills, Texas, fall 2009.
* Produced by Wahkiakum High School, Cathlamet, Washington, fall 2009.
* Produced by 71st High School, Fayetteville, N.C., fall 2009.
* Produced by Carlisle High School, Carlisle, Ohio, fall/winter 2010.
* Produced by Wilson Central High School, Lebanon, Tennessee, fall/winter 2010.
* Produced by Independent Day School, Middlefield, Connecticut, fall 2011.
* Produced by Powers School District #31, Powers, Oregon, fall 2011.
* Produced by B. Firby, Kenaston, Saskatchewan, fall 2011.
* Produced by Green See Floyds High School, Green Sea, S.,C., fall 2011.
* Produced by Sing Hosanna!, Butler, Pennsylvania, fall 2014.
• Produced by Silver Grove Independent School, Silver Grove, Kentucky, fall 2014
• Produced by Poolville High School, Poolville, Texas, 2014
• Produced by Owensboro Catholic Middle School, Owensboro, Kentucky, 2014.
* Produced at Salem United Methodist Church, Denver, North Carolina, December 2014.
This is a play about an old man’s regret. In the summer of 1940, after the Germans had conquered most of Europe, the German military began planning for an invasion of England — Operation Sea Lion. General Ernst Busch was assigned to lead the main assault. Of course, the invasion never happened, and Busch never became famous. He was captured by the British and died in captivity in 1945. This play is based on Busch, on his deathbed, imagining what would have happened if the invasion had gone forward, and succeeded. It’s told in the form of Busch giving an interview to a documentary filmmaker, with the general remembering, and re-enacting, the imaginary invasion as he “remembered” it. Cast: The camera crew doubles as various characters in the documentary; cast requires at least eight people. Virtually all of the characters are identifiably male; none are specifically female. However, the interviewer could easily be a female role, and that is a large role, and some civilians could be cast as females, although this might require a slightly larger cast than eight. Time: About 45 minutes.
• One of four finalists, Southeastern Playwrights Festival, Asheville, N.C., 2002.
THE SECRET LIFE OF CHARLOTTE MARIA STUART (the precocious teen version)
A precocious teen-age girl with an overactive imagination comes to believe she is really the heir to the British throne — descended through the Stuarts who were overthrow in the 17th century — and drives her best friend crazy with all of her theories about why this is. Despite the historical allusions, this is ultimately a play about a teen-age girl searching for her identity. Cast: Can be as small as 5 and as large as 10. Ranges from 3 female, 2 male to 3 female,
4 male, 2 non-gender, plus a female child with no line and several off-stage
voice. Either way, the two key roles are both female.
THE SECRET LIFE OF CHARLOTTE MARIA STUART (original version)
A teen-age girl complains to her friend that they lead boring lives and there’s nothing to do — not realizing that she’s the secret heir to the British throne. The play alternates between two scenes — the girls talking about their boredom, and a secret council of people loyal to the House of Stuart. In reality, of course, the exiled House of Stuart died out in the 1700s; this play supposes that a secret heir survived and the family line has been sheltered down through the centuries. Cast: Five main characters, three female, two male. There also are two minor characters, who can easily be doubled, because they appear only briefly, and in the dark, or can be cast separately. Set requirements: A teen-age girl’s bedroom on one side, a board room on another.
THE SEX LIFE OF THE PRAYING MANTIS
Amy bites off her boyfriend’s head, and regrets it. She seeks solace from
her friend Molly, who is more interesting in hearing all the naughty details.
Amy then turns to her friend Lexie, who wonders what all the fuss is
about. If Amy and Molly seem like praying mantises, and Lexie seems like
a black widow spider, all the better. Cast: Five — three female, two male,
although both male parts are small and one of the males appears only in
darkness, so it’s possible to double them. Rated PG-13 or possibly R for
sexual themes, but no bad words. . Running time: 15 minutes.
• Semi-finalist, Rosetta Festival of New Works, Brass Tacks Theatre, New
York, NY, 2004.
• Produced by Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Va., May 2005.
• Published by Norman Maine Publishing – Big Dog Publishing, as part of the collection “Animal Instinct,” fall 2005.
* Produced by Farmington High School, Farmington, New Mexico, March 2009.
SHAKESPEARE’S LOST PLAY: THE TRAGEDY OF KING HAROLD
The story of the Norman Conquest, written in blank verse as Shakespeare himself might have done. This one-act focuses on a small slice of the 1066 saga, and presents the Saxon king Harold as a tragic figure — with all the appropriate references to comets and such. The gimmick is that it’s presented as a long-lost Shakespeare manuscript. If you wish, you can drop that part and skip just to the main event. Cast: Eight players — three male, three female and two of either gender.
A rural sheriff in Appalachia responds to a report of a death at a snake-handling church. A woman has died – the minister’s wife. The minister says it’s because she lacked faith. In version one, the minister intentionally handed her a poisonous snake because he had caught her having an affair. In version two, her death is an accident. Cast: Four – two male, two female. Running time: Twenty minutes.
THE SIRENS SING THE BLUES AND OTHER OLD FAVORITES
A romp through mythology, featuring the sirens — and what happened to them after Ulysses successfully sailed by their rock by tying himself to the mast of his ship. Includes some singing of popular songs. And while it’s not a requirement, it would be helpful if one actress and one actor could play the guitar, at least a few simple chords. The actress playing the Fury gets to wear snakes in her hair. Cast: Ten players — six female, four male. Two of the males could be cast as females, if necessary.
• Produced by Lloyd C. Bird High School, Chesterfield County, Va., March 2003.
When one of their friends is squashed, a group of spiders plots revenge against the humans in the house. A dark comedy that looks at different problem-solving techniques. If done as the script envisions, the spiders enter by descending from above on ropes, although directors may wish to improvise other scenarios. Cast: Seven — 4 females, 3 males, plus one man to play a dead body. Note that one of the three males with speaking roles only has two lines, and could double as the dead body. Running time: 25 minutes.
• Published summer 2005 by Norman Maine/Big Dog Publishing, Tellevast, Florida as part of the collection “Animal Instinct.”
* Produced by Farmington High School, Farmington, New Mexico, March 2009.
SOME THINGS YOU MUST TAKE ON FAITH
A church Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve has gone awry — the minister and the pageant director are stuck inside a horse costume, which was the best the church could manage to replicate a donkey. Now the “horse” and the Virgin Mary are in the hospital emergency room, trying to figure out how to get unstuck. The situation isn’t resolved until the appearance of a mysterious blue singer, who tries out a series of instruments — trumpet, bugle, trombone, harmonica — to play “The First Noel.” Cast: Five — three adult females, one teenage female, one adult male. Running time: Fifteen minutes. Note: You’ll need a trumpet, bugle, trombone, harmonica. And the blues singer will need to play the harmonica and sing.
SPRING FORWARD, FALL BACK
A piece about communication and relationships. A newly-married couple argues over how to set the clocks for daylight savings time. She wants them set 10 minutes fast; he wants them accurately. Many clocks get smashed in the process. Cast: Two – one male, one female. Running time: Twenty minutes. Set requirements: You’ll need to suggest a living room, and show lots and lots and lots of clocks, most of which get smashed. Running time: 20 minutes.
Two elderly neighbors get into a competition over who can grow the strangest-looking vegetable and get their picture in the local paper. Each recruits the same neighborhood kid to help them spy on the other. Comedy ensues. Cast: Six or eight. If six, 3 adult males, 1 juvenile male, 2 adult female. If eight, 4 adult males, 1 juvenile male, 2 adult females, 1 non-gender adult. Running time: 25 minutes.
STUCK ON YOU
Two chaperones at the high school prom show up in the emergency room on prom night. They’ve been glued together at the hip in a bizarre glue gun incident. Comedy ensues, based on the premise “when you assume you make a — ,” well, you know. Keep in mind that word does get used once. But the assumption is tested again when a witch doctor arrives and performs what appears to be an incantation. Cast: Five — 1 male, 3 adult females, 1 teen-age girl. Running time: Twelve minutes.
* Produced April 22, 2006 by Mill Mountain Theatre, Roanoke, Va. as part of the “Overnight Sensations” 24-hour play project.
SVETLANA’S FIRST CHRISTMAS AWAY FROM HOME
A last-minute substitute attempts to preside over a Christmas pageant, which has devolved into chaos – unruly kids, a pushy parent, a church busybody, a kitchen on fire. And then there’s the foreign exchange student, who’s supposed to be the angel, who is in the restroom in tears because it’s her first Christmas away from home. Then something unexpected happens. Cast: 21 – 6 adults (four female, one male, one non-gender), 7 teenagers (five female, two male), 8 early teens or pre-teens (one female, seven non-gender.)
* Produced by Victorian Players, Youngstown, Ohio, December 2016.
* Scheduled to be produced by Red River Revue, Clarksville, Texas, December 2017.
THE TALE OF THE WHALE
A whale washes up on the beach. The town’s mayor is determined to remove it before the town’s annual festival begins. Complications, and comedy, ensue. Very loosely based on the true story where an Oregon town tried to blow up a beached whale in the 1970s, with disastrous results. Think blubber raining down from the skies. Cast: 9 — 4 male, 3 female, 1 non-gender adult, 1 non-gender kid. With doubling, you could reduce it to a cast of 8 – 4 male, 3 female, 1 non-gender kid. Running time: 30-35 minutes.
* Produced by North Star Theatre Project, Danville, Virginia, August 2016.
A strong winds hits a small town, and residents are convinced it’s a tornado — and their claim to fame. But a meteorologist from the Weather Service shows up and informs them otherwise, to their dismay. Three optional endings. Cast: 12 or 13, depending on which ending you choose. If 12, cast is 7 female, 4 male and 1 non-gender. If 13, cast is 7 female, 5 male and 1 non-gender. Running time: 30 minutes.
THE TROPHY WIFE
A taxidermist speaks directly to the audience, in the form of a police interrogation, as he tells his horrifying tale. Around him, the story unfolds. He had an affair with the young wife of one of his best customers, a wealthy real estate developer and big-game hunter. When the developer caught them, he killed her — and then forced the taxidermist to have her stuffed. A dark script, with adult themes. Cast: Cast of 10, although the bulk of the action is by just three characters.If you use the full ten, the gender ratio is 4 adult males, 2 male children, teens or younger; 3 females, 1 non-gender.
Four parts can easily be doubled, which would make a cast of seven: 3 adult males, 1 male child, teen or younger; 3 females, 1 non-gender. If you doubled the police officer, you could reduce the cast to six: 3 adult males, 1 male child, teen or younger; 3 females. Running time: 30 minutes.
Imagine a factory town after the factory has closed. Now imagine it’s Mount Olympus and it’s the ancient gods who are now unemployed. A bleak look at what happens next, with music. Cast: Eleven – 6 males, 5 females. Running time: One hour.
THE UNOPENED VALENTINE
A grumpy widow with a tendency to worry is packing up her things to move into a smaller place. Her enthusiastic granddaughter is helping her, when the granddaughter opens an old schoolbook to find a valentine her granddaughter had never opened. The granddaughter wants to open it; the grandmother worries about what it might contain, and whether the course of her life would have changed if she’d opened it when she received it. Note: This is based on the five-minute monologue and 10-minutes script of the same name. Cast: Two females — one senior, one teen-ager. Running time: Twenty minutes.
A teenage girl’s old dolls come to life to try to save her life when she attempts to commit suicide by swallowing an overdose of sleeping pills. Cast: Four, plus an off-stage voice to make five. Three female, two non-gender. Running time: Fifteen or so minutes.
* Scheduled for staged reading, Echo Theatre Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 2017.
THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD
A nihilistic look at school shootings, and the role of social media. Cast: Four – one male, one female, two non-gender, plus many dead bodies. This is mostly a two-person show, one male, one female, with two or more police officers entering at the end. Running time: Twenty minutes.
THE WALL IN THE FOREST, or The Last Perfect Daughter
A scary fairy tale, starring a young princess, two hags in the forest, and a
curse. Cast: Seven — 2 male, 4 female, 1 non-gender. Running time:
THE WEIRD SISTERS ON HOLIDAY
The three witches of “Macbeth” fame try to relax on the beach, but there are constant interruptions — some soccer hooligans from Scotland who seem suspiciously like the characters from Shakespeare’s play, fans seeking autographs, and camera-clicking paparazzi. Note: The beginning is similar to the opening of “Macbeach.” Cast: Twelve — 4 male, 6 female, 2 non-gender.
• Staged reading by Shenandoah Shakespeare, Staunton, Va., April 2005.
* Published by Brooklyn Publishing, 2010.
* Produced by Anderson County High School, Kansas, Jan. 14, 2011.
THE WEIRD SISTERS RE-LIVE, REGRET AND RECONSIDER THEIR ‘YOUTHFUL INDISCRETION’ WITH MACBETH
The three witches interrupt a performance of Macbeth to complain about the way Shakespeare has portrayed them. Specifically, the Weird Sisters contend that the play has ruined their reputations; they contend the tricks they played with Macbeth were a “youthful indiscretion” and they’ve since moved on to more sophisticated forms of magic. They take turns showing how things really were — more or less. Cast: Ten — six females, two males, and two non-gender roles.
A variation on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Here, an unassuming corporate middle manager named Mac returns from a golf outing with his best friend, Buddy. They stop in a roadside bar, where they encounter three weird waitresses, and suddenly Mac’s life starts unfolding much like the original. Mac narrates how his life has suddenly gotten “weirded out.” Cast: 8, 9 or 10, depending on doubling options. The basic cast is 9 — 4 female, 5 male, with optional cast of 10, which would be 4 female, 6 male. Note that one of the 5 males in the cast of 9 has no lines and appears only briefly at the end. He’s on stage with Mac and the bikers, but in theory could be doublecast as Buddy, to give you a cast of 4 females, 4 males. He could also be doublecast as Duncan, the optional character for the cast of 10, which means that version could also be done with 4 females, 4 males. Running time: Twenty five minutes.
THE WOLVES AT THE SPACESHIP DOOR
Based on the true story of Voskhod 2, a Soviet space mission in 1965. The Voskhod crew made history by performing the first spacewalk. The cosmonauts also made history in another way, one which didn’t become public until many years later: The spacecraft malfunctioned on re-entry and landed more than 1,000 miles off-course, in the forests of Siberia. The two cosmonauts spent the night fending off wolves who circled the ship and tried to pry open the hatch. Cast: There are six characters. To be historically accurate, all six would be male. To accommodate modern sensibilities, at least three and perhaps four could be cast as female. Set requirements: Minimal, although one scene will need to hint at a radio studio, another at a space capsule, a third at mission control.
A ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS
A grandfather and grandmother dress up as a zombie and a vampire to try to connect their their teen-age granddaughter. Miscommunication ensues. Cast: Four – one senior male, one senior female, one adult female, one teen female. Running time: Fifteen minutes.
* Staged reading, Princeton Theatre Group, Princeton, Illinois, July 2016.
* Scheduled to be produced by Victorian Players, Youngstown, Ohio, December 2016.