(Very) short plays appropriate for highschool aged students?
March 9, 2014 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to find a few very short, preferably one-act, plays that are appropriate for students 14-18. Classics are OK, but I'm definitely more interested in stuff that's more contemporary (post-45?).

I know nothing about drama, and have sometimes used David Ives plays when teaching HS age students, but I'd really like to hit on something less conceptual/more grounded in realistic dialogue and settings.
posted by munyeca to Education (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about Albert's Bridge, by Tom Stoppard? 20+ years later and I still remember that being performed in my high school. I wouldn't call it profoundly affecting, but it was nevertheless memorable to me.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:40 PM on March 9, 2014

I love While the Auto Waits by O Henry. I think it's strangely hilarious. I read it over with a class of 17 year olds and we were all falling about laughing.
posted by sapien at 1:55 PM on March 9, 2014

We read Peter Shaffer's Equus when I was in secondary school/High School. The appropriateness of Equus may be discussed depending upon where you - I am, er, Scandinavian.
posted by kariebookish at 2:03 PM on March 9, 2014

Courting 101 by Yuri Baranovsky.
posted by tybstar at 2:13 PM on March 9, 2014

I remember reading and loving David Ives at that age. Variations on the Death of Trotsky is a lot of fun.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Neil Simon's Rumors absolutely hilarious and a crowd-pleaser. It's set at a dinner party, so the dialogue is very accessible and realistic.
posted by krakus at 2:24 PM on March 9, 2014

I was in The Actor's Nightmare by Christopher Durang in HS, and it went over really well.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:28 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

All in the Timing is hilarious, thought-provoking, and pretty much actor-proof.
posted by alms at 3:02 PM on March 9, 2014

When I was in high school one of my teachers had a bunch of scripts and one of them was for a play called Women and Wallace about a young man dealing with the death of his mother who. I performed a (male) monologue from it and I remember liking it a lot at the time; the language was very natural for a high schooler.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:34 PM on March 9, 2014

I, too was in The Actor's Nightmare by Christopher Durang (well, actually, it was a bunch of Durang one-acts) while in HS, and I think it worked pretty well. Most of his plays are pretty good (and very short!), but at least one of them had a bunch of references that made no sense to anyone born after Reagan left office (which was everyone in the cast).
posted by Maecenas at 4:49 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was in drama in high school, one of my favorite plays I was involved in producing was J.M. Barrie's The Twelve Pound Look (sorry that this version from archive.org requires a lot of scrolling; we ordered our version from Samuel French, I think, and it had a lot less prologue). It's not post-45, of course, but its subject matter would probably be considered progressive for its time, and I think everyone involved in our production found it totally accessible and enjoyable. What's more, it's very realistic rather than "conceptual," which is something I really appreciated about it at the time (when most students I knew were acting in and directing really "high-concept" one-acts) and still do—there's no gimmicks to it, just a good story.
posted by honey wheat at 4:58 PM on March 9, 2014

In high school forensics, I got my best reactions from Tom Topor's "Nuts" - the courtroom scene. Yes, it's a prostitute in a competency hearing for killing her john, but it's far tamer than an episode of "Law and Order" and it's got a juicy dramatics more recent feeling than, say, Ibsen's A Doll's House. (I did cut the line about "blow jobs" per the principal's request.) "'Night Mama", "Agnes of God" and "Steel Magnolias" were also some favorites on the speech team circuit at the time.

I've always thought Hal Hartley's screenplay for "Trust" would make an amazing high school production, given the issues it deals with and the remarkable dialog. And it's easy to trim down.
posted by Gucky at 5:06 PM on March 9, 2014

I was "the musician" in a high school production of Edward Albee's "The Sandbox". It's exceedingly weird for high schoolers, but that makes it interesting for them.
posted by notsnot at 5:25 PM on March 9, 2014

John Patrick Shandley's "Welcome to the Moon", especially "The Red Coat" from that collection.
posted by stray at 8:14 PM on March 9, 2014

Thanks for the great ideas, all! I probably should have clarified that this isn't so much for a production as it is for discussion -- but I think I'll definitely find something useful here!
posted by munyeca at 6:18 AM on March 10, 2014

Beauty by Jane Martin
I couldn't find a text for this one, but it's out there.

Sure Thing by David Ives

Both of these are quite short and will engage this age group.
posted by TrarNoir at 9:44 AM on March 10, 2014

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