Help me find a one-act play....

I work at a college, and a colleague and I have recently been handed the drama club - or rather, we were told “You’re the English department! Make a drama club”. We’ve advertised, we’ve got some people together…I have a little experience in amateur theatre, which is how I became involved…but now it’s come time to actually find a script and look to putting on a play.

They’re a pretty green bunch - as am I - so I think a one-act would be the sane option. The trouble is, while I know a lot of full-length plays, I can’t think of any one-acts!

Can anyone here recommend me a few?
Also check out Thirty Famous One Act Plays, 24 Favorite One Act Plays, Twenty One-Act Plays, and The Best Short Plays.

It really depends on your particular situation. How many cast, gender, acting experience, target audience, what kind of venue?

If I just had to pick a play blindly, I’d throw all of Tennessee William’s one acts in a sack, and put on the first play I pulled out.

Thanks! We have a cast of probably 12-16 people, mostly second-language English speakers. A good mix of girls and guys, though! More guys than is usually the case. The target audience as I know it right now is the students of the college, their friends, and family. Venue, I don’t know yet. I’ve been asking management about it, but they’ve yet to make a decision. All the same, we need a play - I know the management, and they won’t sort out a venue for us until we’ve proven that there’ll really be a production.

Experience: we don’t have any actors. We have some dancers, a choreographer, a few models. I have a little experience in amateur theatre, I’ve done some acting and scriptwriting, but I’ve never directed a play myself. I’ll be the director this time around, though.

I’ll check out those lists, thanks. Tennessee Williams is a good idea, too.

Sounds like you could do a series of four one act plays. If each one runs a half hour or less, they make a complete evening’s program.

How about this:

An Agatha Christie one act, The Patient. Straightforward mystery.
A Neil Simon one act, Visitor from Forest Hills. The master of American stage comedy.
Lady of Larkspur Lotion, T Williams, comedy with sad undertones.
Dunsany’s The Lost Silk Hat
Glaspell’s Trifles

I’m hoping somebody will chime in with some more current recommendations.

Break a leg, y’all.

One acts tend to be small casts… you won’t be able to use everyone.

I was in a great one-act called “Answers” three dudes. Two cops, one crooke. Interrogation scene.

There was another one I remember being alright called… I THINK “Shut and Bar the Door” which had about 7 characters and was a pretty good comedy. Fairy tale type setting but about a married couple having an argument like any other married couple.

George Bernard Shaw The Man of Destiny

or the Dark Lady of the Sonnets

Shaw had quite a few of them. You can always do Don Juan in Hell from Man and Superman

The Actor’s Nightmare, by Christopher Durang, would be a good choice. You could also do a bunch of David Ives short pieces; they’re fun, witty, and quick, and really do well in no-budget, no-set scenarios.

I’ll nominate Vanities. It’s 3 scenes, with a cast of only 3 women. The play traces the women’s development and relationship in three snapshots…in high school the day JFK was shot, Senior Year in College, and a reunion several years later. Poignant, bitter-sweet, with some comedy, and only one F-bomb–that is really necessary as delivered. The full play will run about 45 minutes to an hour, the script contains instructions for a minimalist set, and suggestions for appropriate music. Great show, easily doable with limited resources, three very distinct characters that change over time–but still something a beginning actress can handle comfortably, with effort, and not too difficult for a first time director. I’ve done the show twice, first as Technical Director in a fully equipped college theatre, later directed the show on a minimal budget with a group I started.

These are all good responses, thanks!

It’s my first time directing (and it reflects on my real job performance - eek! (I’m a teacher at the college)), so I’m not looking to put on more than one play. I think I need a longish one-act - long enough to make an evening’s entertainment, but short enough to be manageable for a newbie.

I’m going to print out a summary of all the plays I think I could handle, and offer them to the group to see which one they’d prefer, so thank you for all the suggestions, and if you have any more, keep them coming!

I don’t know how they feel about paying royalties either (or what the deal is with that), so both modern and less modern suggestions are eagerly welcomed :).

The 'Ol K-to-the-literary-ninja-to-the-Z wrote a 1-axt, once.

“Beave’s First Date”

Its where Eddie Haskel brings a Playboy he stole from his fuckin’ old man, and stashes it with the Beaver. Sneaks the fucker under Barbie Billingsly’s face in a pile of homework. (why she does not question “Eddie and homework”…well that’s why it’s a one axt play).

It’s the whole “becoming a man” but exploring it through the Beave’s eyes. The levels are boundless: Repression, growth, exploration, discovery, changes, pheremones, kleenex…

Roll with it. With sound mind and body, I give you all rights!

“Gosh, Eddie, she sure is pretty. AND LOOK AT THEM FUCKIN’ TIT’S”

Stage Right Vocal: “Beaver? What are you shouting up there?”


Funny you should ask. I just saw God of Carnage on Broadway which was one big act lasting about 1 1/2 hours.