MALE/FEMALE SCENES - The Ultimate Scene and Monologue Sourcebook: An Actor's Guide to over 1000 Monologues and Dialogues from More Than 300 Contemporary Plays - Ed Hooks

The Ultimate Scene and Monologue Sourcebook: An Actor's Guide to over 1000 Monologues and Dialogues from More Than 300 Contemporary Plays - Ed Hooks (2007)



by Arthur Miller (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 28-30, Quentin (40s) and Louise (35)

Quentin and Louise, two complex, sophisticated people, debate the true meaning of a mature relationship in this three-page scene. Start, Louise: “Quentin, I’m trying to understand why you got so angry with me at the party the other night.” End, Louise: “Good God! What an idiot!”

Drama: Act I, pp. 36-40, Quentin (40s) and Louise (35)

Quentin has innocently met and spent a little time in the park with Maggie, the switchboard operator in his business firm. When he arrives home, Louise, his wife, reminds him that he has missed an important business meeting. Quentin tells her about Maggie, and they fight. Start, Quentin: “Hi…What’s the matter?…Well, what’s the matter?” End, Louise: “It’s all it’s been about the last three years. You don’t want me.” For a longer version, end with Quentin’s line, “God! Can that be true?”

Drama: Act II, pp. 47-52, Quentin (40s) and Maggie (25-30)

Quentin visits Maggie in her apartment. This is their first face-to-face meeting since they met in a park two years ago. Since then, she has become a celebrity singer, and he has followed her progress. Maggie is based on Marilyn Monroe, to whom playwright Arthur Miller was briefly married. Omit Louise and Mother’s lines. Start, Maggie: “I can’t hardly believe you came! Can you stay five minutes?” End, Quentin: “Not yet, dear; but I intend to try. Don’t be afraid to call me if you need any help.”


by Eugene O’Neill (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 66-71, Belle (20) and Richard (16)

Determined to teach his steady girlfriend a lesson, Richard accepts a blind date with a young woman who has loose morals and, as he is to learn, charges for her services. Despite all of Richard’s big talk, he is still a kid; as such, when Belle and Richard meet in a seedy bar, he is thoroughly intimidated. The peroxide blonde is as worldly as he is innocent. Cut the bartender’s interruption of the scene. Start, Belle: “You shouldn’t be so generous, Dearie. Gets him in bad habits.” End, Belle: “And don’t want to. Shut up about her, can’t you?”

Comedy: Act III, Scene 2, pp. 108-117, Muriel (15) and Richard (16)

Shades of Romeo and Juliet circa 1906. Richard and Muriel, two young lovers, sneak out of their respective homes, defying specific parental edicts, and rendezvous on a nearby moonlit beach. They quarrel and spoon and kiss, the very vision of innocent romance. Start, Muriel: “Oh, Dick.” End, Muriel: “That’ll be wonderful, won’t it?


by Arthur Miller (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 29-31, Chris (32) and Annie (26)

Chris has secretly been in love with Annie for a long time, even though she was the girlfriend of his late brother, Larry, who died in World War II. Judging that enough time has gone by, Chris decides to declare his love. When the moment arrives, however, he finds that he is still standing in his brother’s shadow. Start, Annie: “It’s lovely here. The air is sweet.” End, Chris: “Oh, Annie, Annie…I’m going to make a fortune for you!”


by Peter Shaffer (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 54-59, Salieri (35-45) and Constanze (20s)

Mozart is attracting attention, but little money. Salieri, his more financially successful competitor, is jealous of the younger man’s talent and attempts to injure him by seducing his wife, Constanze. Salieri offers to intercede on Mozart’s behalf with the Emperor if she’ll sleep with him. Though she wants to help her husband, she refuses to cooperate. Start, Salieri: “If she did, how would I behave? I had no idea of that either.” End, Salieri: “I will study them overnight—and you will study my proposal. Not to be vague, that is my price. Good afternoon.”


by James Baldwin (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 66-71, Margaret (35-45) and Luke (40-50)

Luke is dying. He is spending his last days with his ex-wife, Margaret, who, ten years ago, took their infant son and left him. Now she is the pastor of a small Harlem church, having buried the pain of her marriage in courtship to the Lord. The prospect of death, however, presents an opportunity for reassessment. Margaret and Luke talk about the joys and challenges of their marriage, as well as of how she struggled with their poverty and his love of music, which caused him to be away from home so much. Start, Margaret: “Luke, ain’t you never going to learn to do right?” End, Margaret: “You’re going to die, Luke.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 84-89, Margaret (35-45) and David (18)

David has made his choice: he’ll leave home and pursue a life as a professional musician. More important, however, is his determination to be his own man, not a puppet of his mother’s religious teachings. In this scene, David has been out all night and comes home with a hangover. Margaret recognizes his sad state and slaps him in the face—hard. He lifts his head, and she slaps him again. It is a moment of truth for mother and son. Both characters have excellent monologues. You’ll have to cut and paste, eliminating Odessa’s lines. Start, Margaret: “Where you been until this time in the morning, son?” End, David: “No, Mama. I ain’t hungry now.”


by Paul Carter Harrison (Totem Voices, Plays from the Black World Repertory, edited by Paul Carter Harrison, Grove Press)

Drama: Act II, Harper (mid-30s) and Cass (30s)

As Harper and Cass talk about life and fears, he keeps an eye on the motel across the street, the one Martin Luther King will soon stay in. Start, Harper: “That creep is on the prowl again!” End, Cass: “I don’t believe you, Harper.”


by Richard Greenberg (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 5-12, Lili (20) and Nick (20s)

This scene isn’t what it appears to be. On the surface, it is a boy-meets-girl-in-the-Catskills scene. But what the audience doesn’t know is that Nick is actually gay, and Lili has serious emotional problems. Challenging work for resourceful actors. Start, Nick: “Oh…Hi!” End, Lili: “I don’t think so.”

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 19-24, Lili (20) and Nick (20s)

Lili has started a rumor that Nick has a venereal disease, causing the young woman he has been dating all summer to panic and very abruptly leave the Catskills with her family. In this scene, Nick confronts Lili and demands an explanation for her actions. Then he stays for tea. Start, Lili: “Bobby Darin.” End, Nick: “All these words!”

Drama: Act I, Scene 6, pp. 32-36, Eva (40s) and Nick (20s)

Eva has investigated Nick’s background and discovered that almost everything he has told her daughter about himself is a lie. In this tense scene, Eva confronts him, and he explains. At least the audience and Eva think he explains—but he isn’t telling the whole story. Start, Eva: “It has warmed my heart to see the change in Lili over these last weeks.” End, Eva: “That is no longer either here or there.”


by Marcelle Maurette (adapted by Guy Bolton, Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 56-59, Empress (79) and Paul (25-30)

Paul is apparently convinced that Anna is the real Anastasia, the only surviving daughter of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, and he has brought his aunt, the Dowager Empress, to see for herself. It is February 1926, and the Empress has met many pretenders since the royal family was assassinated in 1918, so she is inclined to be skeptical. After all, where would a real princess have hidden for so many years? Paul urges the Empress to keep an open mind. Start, Paul: “Does Anastasia know you are here?” End, Empress: “Leave them. Leave them wrapped in the dignity of death.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 77-79, Empress (79) and Bounine (40s)

A woman believed to be the real Princess Anastasia, the only surviving daughter of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II, is about to be presented to the press. If all goes well, Bounine and his cohorts, the group that discovered the young woman, will come into their share of the heiress’s huge fortune tomorrow. In this scene, the Dowager Empress, evidently convinced that Anna is the real Anastasia, surprises Bounine by announcing that she knows the whole plan is a scam. Cornered, he at first denies the charge but then caves in, blaming everything on Anna. When the Empress doesn’t go for that, he switches gears again, urging her to go ahead with a public endorsement of the young woman so that they can all gain access to the fortune. This short scene is interesting for its many twists and turns. Start, Bounine: “I assume from Your Majesty’s attitude that the—the Princess has told you certain things?” End, Empress: “The audience is over. I am through with you, Arcade Arcadievitch Bounine.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 81-83, Anna (20s) and Dr. Serensky (25-35)

Anna’s former lover, Dr. Serensky, has shown up on the day she is to be presented to the world as the real Princess Anastasia. He knows it isn’t true. As the scene progresses, however, it is clear that Anna can pass, whether it is true or not, and she is going for the gold. All Dr. Serensky has to offer is love and a struggling medical practice. Start, Serensky: “How lovely you look. And how well.” End, Anna: “If we are parting, Michael.”


by Tony Kushner (Theatre Communications Group)

Drama: Act I, Scene 5, Harper (early 30s) and Joe (early 30s)

Joe tells his wife, Harper, that he wants to accept a political position and move from Brooklyn to Washington, DC. Harper, an agoraphobe and a borderline Valium addict, is terrified of such a move. Disregard Louis and the Rabbi’s appearance in this split scene. Start, Harper: “Washington?” End, Harper: “…skin burns, birds go blind, icebergs melt. The world’s coming to an end.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 7, Harper (early 30s) and Prior (30)

In this sequence, Harper and Prior appear in one another’s dreams. She is an agoraphobe and dependent on Valium; he is gay, flamboyant, and dying of AIDS. They meet here for the first time but, because it is a dream, they already seem to know a lot about each other. The whole scene is slightly disconnected from reality. Start, Prior: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” End, Prior: “People come and go so strangely here. I don’t think there’s any uninfected part of me. My heart is pumping polluted blood. I feel dirty.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 8, Harper (early 30s) and Joe (early 30s)

Harper and her husband, Joe, have a troubled marriage. She is addicted to various prescription drugs, and since they stopped having sex regularly, Joe has stayed out much later at night, and his business trips seem longer. Sensing some kind of fundamental change in the man, she hysterically confronts him in this scene, asking whether he is homosexual. Joe doesn’t provide a straightforward answer to the question; instead, he suggests that they pray more and ask God for guidance. This only serves to infuriate Harper. Simultaneous scenes are being played on stage here, so disregard Louis and Prior. Start, Harper: “Where were you?” End, Harper: “No. Yes. No. Yes. Get away from me. Now we both have a secret.”


by Eugene O’Neill (Vintage Books)

Drama: Act II, Anna (20) and Mat Burke (30)

For the past ten days, Anna has been living happily on her father’s coal barge, relishing the fresh sea air. Then a group of shipwrecked sailors come on board, and Anna is swept off her feet by one of them, an Irishman named Mat Burke. Fifteen minutes after he meets her, he asks her to marry him. Mat has a slight Irish accent. Start, Anna: “Here you are. Here’s a drink for you. You need it, I guess.” End, Burke: “I’m telling you there’s the will of God in it that brought me safe through the storm and fog to the wan spot in the world where you was!”

Drama: Act IV, Anna (20) and Chris (50)

After her father, Chris, and Mat react so strongly to Anna’s disclosure that she’s been a prostitute, Anna decides to return to the streets. She is packed to leave when her father returns from his drunken binge, asks her forgiveness for having been a bad parent all her life, and announces that he is shipping out to Cape Town. The role of Chris requires a heavy Swedish accent, and O’Neill has written it with those inflections. The scene calls for a revolver, but it is never fired. Begin at the top of Act IV. Start, Anna: “Come in.” End, Anna: “Good night.”

Drama: Act IV, Anna (20) and Burke (30)

Mat has decided that despite Anna’s sordid past, he loves her and again asks her to marry him. She accepts this time. Mat has a slight Irish accent. Also, the scene calls for a revolver that does not get fired. Start, Anna: “What are you doing here?” End, Mat: “We’ll be happy now, the two of us, in spite of the divil.”


by A. R. Gurney, Jr. (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: One-act play, pp. 10-14, Judy Miller (early 20s) and Dave (early 20s)

Judy Miller has written a modern, antiwar adaptation of the Greek classic Antigone and, now that her Greek drama teacher has refused to give her a passing grade for the effort, she has become defiant; she is determined to mount a university production of her play. In this scene, Judy tries to enlist her boyfriend, Dave, to play Antigone’s sister, a character she has changed into Antigone’s lover. He isn’t excited by the prospect. Begin as Dave reads aloud from the script. Start, Dave: “No, Antigone, no. Please reconsider. Do not take on this dangerous enterprise. The risks are too great, the payoff insignificant.” End, Dave: “No. Antigone, no. Please reconsider.”

Comedy-Drama: One-act play, pp. 14-23, Diana (35-45) and Henry (40-50)

Diana, the dean of Humane Studies, has been caught up in the growing conflict between Henry Harper and his defiant student, Judy Miller. Diana visits Henry’s office and asks him to back off, but he won’t consider it. Then she tells him that campus whispers portray him as anti-Semitic. Start, Diana: “Henry?” End, Diana: “Now where did she get an idea like that?”

Comedy-Drama: One-act play, pp. 41-47, Diana (35-45) and Henry (40-50)

In this gripping scene, Diana delivers the news that Henry is being granted a year off with full pay so he can visit Greece and do some research. He refuses the offer, however, because his wife has left him and because Diana shows no interest in accompanying him on the trip and beginning a romance. Then she levels him by reporting that there are practically no pre-enrollments for his course next year, and that the college is, in fact, laying him off for a while. Henry leaves their meeting determined to drum up some enrollments. Start, Henry: “Woman at her work. I am reminded of Penelope at her loom.” End, Henry: “Then I’ll have to get them, won’t I?”

Drama: One-act play, pp. 49-55, Judy (early 20s) and Henry (40-50)

In this final scene between Judy and her teacher, he offers an olive branch if she’ll help him get some students in his next semester’s class. Judy doesn’t need Henry anymore, however, because another teacher—significantly, a Jewish teacher—has agreed to give her an A on the project that Henry dismissed. Excellent scene illustrating a power struggle. Start, Judy: “You wanted to see me, Professor Harper?” End, Henry: “Good God. What have I done?”


by Lillian Hellman (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 49-52, Rose (43) and Mr. Griggs (53)

Rose is desperately trying to save her twenty-five-year marriage, which is in shambles. Her husband, however, is intent on divorce, wants to start a new life for himself, and is unmoved even when she tells him that another man may be standing in the wings. Start, Rose: “Nasty old thing. I’m driving over to see him.” End, Rose: “I am going to try, dear. Really I am. It’s evidently important to you.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 68-70, Sophie (17) and Nick (45)

The oh-so-continental Nick has had far too much to drink and is feeling lonely and full of self-pity when he discovers Sophie preparing her bed in the living room. He makes a fumbling attempt at seducing her, but his efforts disgust her, and he falls asleep. Sophie has a slight French accent. Start, Nick: “Constance! What is this—A boys’ school with lights out at eleven!” End, Nick: “Have a little pity. I am old and sick.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 78-82, Nina (40) and Nick (45)

Stung by Nick’s drunken insults last night, Nina, his wife, has packed to leave. When he realizes that she is serious about separation, he begs forgiveness. She relents, sending him on ahead to Mobile, Alabama, to wait for her while she tries to clean up the human mess he has left in his wake. This is an excellent scene in which two adults redefine the terms of their relationship, essentially lowering their expectations. Start, Nick: “Nina, I just want to say before you go that they’re making an awful row about nothing.” End, Nina: “You love me and I love you and that’s that and always will be.”


by Terrence McNally (1990 revised edition, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: “Dunelawn,” pp. 46-48, April (late 20s) and Roy (30s)

April and Roy are professional actors who have been married only three months and can’t get along because they are so competitive. Here, they lounge in the sunshine and tear each other to shreds. Start, Roy: “Honey! You’re blocking my sun.” End, April: “Give him skin cancer, God, give him skin cancer, please!”

Comedy: “Dunelawn,” pp. 27-32, Dolly (late 20s) and Harry (30s)

Dolly arrives for a visit and discovers that after three months of treatment, her husband, Harry, is a changed man. Now he drinks, smokes, dances, sings, and sculpts. In this scene, they talk about why they’ve tried so often to kill each other, and he tells her how great he’s doing. Eliminate Dr. Pepper in the beginning of the scene, and the interruptions of the public-address system. Start, Harry: “You look wonderful, Dolly.” End, Dolly: “Doctor!…What have you done to him?”

Comedy: “Ravenswood,” pp. 83-90, Ruth Benson (late 20s) and Hugh Gumbs (30s)

Hugh Gumbs was the love of Ruth’s life until he ran off with Mildred Canby five years ago. To win him back, Ruth has remade herself, giving up smoking and drinking, and losing a great deal of weight. Now she is an attractive nurse employed at Ravenswood. Unexpectedly, Hugh checks in for treatment, a man in the gutter, an alcoholic loser. When she reveals her new identity to him, he still rejects her, this time because she is too good for him. Eliminate Dr. Toynbee. Also, the scene calls for Hugh to be in a wheelchair and, though that is ideal, you can work without it. Start, Hugh: “Aaaaaaaaaa!” End, Benson: “All right, Hugh, and remember, you asked for it.”


by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 60-69, Corie (early 20s) and Paul (early 20’s)

This is the first newlywed argument and, of course, it takes only a short while for the “divorce” word to come up. We know all along that there isn’t going to be any divorce but, to these new lovers, the entire world is at stake. Physical comedy, innocent and fun. Start, Paul: “What a rotten thing to do…to your own mother.” End, Paul: “Six days does not a week make.”


by Anton Chekhov (The Sneeze, Plays and Stories by Anton Chekhov; translated and adapted by Michael Frayn, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 47-55, Smirnov (45-55) and Popova (45-55)

Smirnov has arrived at the widow Popova’s home to collect a debt owed by her late husband. When she can’t pay immediately, Smirnov refuses to leave, staging a kind of sit-in. Within fifteen minutes, his anger has turned to lust and he declares his love for her. For workshop purposes, eliminate Popova’s servant completely. You’ll have to do a bit of editing, but it is well worth the effort. Start, Smirnov: “Smirnov, Grigory Stepanovich Smirnov, landowner and lieutenant of artillery, retired.” End, Popova: “I’ve no desire to converse with impertinent hobbledehoys! Kindly get out of here!” Or, you can continue through their kiss.


by James Sherman (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 60-68, Sarah (20s) and Bob (20s)

In order to fool her parents into thinking she has a nice Jewish boyfriend, Sarah called an escort service, asked for a Jewish date for the evening, and arranged a dinner with the folks. It turns out, however, that Bob, the escort, isn’t Jewish at all. Fortunately, he is a charming actor and manages to play his role beautifully, winning over Sarah’s parents. In this scene, which takes place immediately after the second visit with the parents, Bob and Sarah relax together at her place. They’re clicking for real, an erotic buzz is in the air, and love is blooming. He massages her shoulders, they talk, he gets up to leave, and they kiss. They kiss again. He stays. Start, Bob: “You got anything to drink in this place? Besides wine?” End, Sarah: “You’re not Jewish! Oy!”


by Martin McDonagh (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 19-24, Maureen (40) and Pato (40s)

Pato brings Maureen home after a party. They’ve both had maybe a little too much to drink, and Pato is being amorous. At forty years of age, Maureen is still a virgin, but it is clear that tonight may be the night. This scene is for advanced actors who are comfortable with an Irish accent and Irish ways. Start, Pato (singing) “…the Cadillac stood by the house…” End, Maureen: “…Go lower…lower.”


by John Van Druten (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 21-26, Gillian (27) and Shep (35)

Gillian is an honest-to-goodness witch who is smitten with Shep, the handsome publisher who lives upstairs. Afraid that she is about to lose him, she casts a spell to guarantee his affections. It works well, and he falls immediately and passionately into her arms. Three hours later, in the afterglow of lovemaking, Gillian and Shep discuss the future. He is just about ready for marriage, but she wants their romance to continue on for a while. Anyway, unbeknownst to Shep, witches can’t really fall in love. If they do, they lose their powers. Start, Shep: “Say something.” End, Gillian: “Soon.”

Comedy: Act II, pp. 43-47, Gillian (27) and Shep (35)

At the risk of losing Shep, Gillian confesses that she is a witch and that she used a spell to get him to fall in love with her. He, of course, does not believe in witches and so doesn’t accept a word of what she is saying. Start, Shep: “Is anything the matter?” End, Shep: “I believe you cast an absolutely wonderful spell on me, and I’m crazy about it.”

Comedy: Act III, Scene 2, pp. 65-70, Gillian (27) and Shep (35)

In the very last scene, Shep has come to say good-bye but, in the process, discovers that Gillian has truly fallen in love with him and that she has lost her magical powers. They fall into one another’s arms, presumably to live happily ever after. Start, Shep: “This isn’t a friendly visit.” End, Gillian: “I’m only human.”


by Harold Pinter (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Scene 1 (1977), pp. 7-12, Emma (30s) and Jerry (30s)

After learning that her husband, Robert, has been carrying on romantic affairs for years, Emma wants to talk to her former lover, Jerry. In this restaurant conversation, the first face-to-face meeting they’ve had since they broke up two years ago, Emma and Jerry discuss their respective families and reminisce about the glory days of their seven-year romance. She tells him that she and Robert plan to separate. Start, Jerry: “Well.” End, Emma: “It’s all over.”

Drama: Scene 3 (1975), pp. 17-19, Emma (30s) and Jerry (30s)

Emma and Jerry agree to end their seven-year affair. They discuss what to do with their apartment and joint possessions. This scene has an important subtext: Emma long ago told her husband, who is Jerry’s best friend, about their affair, but Jerry doesn’t know this. Start, Jerry: “What do you want to do then?” End, Emma: “Listen. I think we’ve made absolutely the right decision.”

Drama: Scene 5 (1973), pp. 24-27, Emma (30s) and Robert (30s)

While on holiday in Venice, Emma tells Robert that she has been carrying on a longtime affair with his best friend, Jerry. Start, Emma: “It’s Torcello tomorrow, isn’t it?” End, Robert: “Tell me, are you looking forward to our trip to Torcello?”

Drama: Scene 8 (1971), pp. 35-38, Emma (30s) and Jerry (30s)

Their affair still young and exciting, Emma prepares lunch for Jerry in the flat they secretly maintain. At the end of the scene, she tells him that she is pregnant with her husband’s child. Start, Jerry: “Hullo.” End, Jerry: “Yes. Yes, of course. I’m very happy for you.”


By Matt Williams (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 12-19, Carla (26) and Cyril (30s)

Carla, discontent with her coal-miner husband, Larry, and their dreary trailer-park existence, plans to escape. In this scene, she asks Cyril, a miner who is out of work because of a hand injury, to give her and her child a lift to the bus station. Cyril is a jokester and a flirt, but he wouldn’t really play around with his friend’s wife. He also isn’t crazy about the idea of helping Carla run away from Larry. You’ll have to cut and paste a bit, eliminating Jimmy. Start, Cyril: “Waaaah!” End, Cyril: “Please don’t tickle. I’m goin’ to pee in my pants.”


by Christopher Durang (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 7-13, Prudence (29-32) and Bruce (30-34)

Prudence and Bruce meet through a personal ad, but the date is disastrous. It turns out that he has a male lover. Start, Prudence: “Hello.” End, Prudence: “Absolutely nothing seems to get that waiter’s attention, does it?”

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 14-18, Prudence (29-32) and Dr. Stuart Framingham (35-45)

Prudence tells Dr. Framingham, her psychotherapist, about her disastrous date with Bruce, but all the therapist wants to talk about is his own masculinity and his sexual relationship with Prudence. Start, Dr. Framingham: “You can send the next patient in now, Betty.” End, Prudence: “Please, don’t you talk either.”

Comedy: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 18-23, Charlotte Wallace (45-55) and Bruce (30-34)

Bruce tells Charlotte Wallace, his therapist, about his disastrous date with Prudence. The psychologist, however, doesn’t think it sounds bad at all. Influenced by Equus, she thinks it is better to be outrageous and impulsive than to be boring. Start, Charlotte: “You may send in the next patient, Marcia.” End, Charlotte: “Marcia, I’ll buzz back when I think of it.”

Comedy: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 24-33, Prudence (29-32) and Bruce (30-34)

At the insistence of his therapist, Bruce has placed another personal ad, this time completely exaggerating his physical assets and intellectual accomplishments. Of course, Prudence has responded to it and shows up at the appointed meeting place expecting to meet Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Instead, she finds Bruce. To their mutual surprise, however, this time they click. This scene isn’t nearly as wild and crazy as was their first encounter, but it is just as interesting for scenework because they must find honest values in one another. Start, Prudence: “Oh.” End, Prudence: “…but there was something about the texture of vanilla ice cream.”

Comedy: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 33-38, Prudence (29-32) and Dr. Stuart Framingham (35-45)

Prudence tells her therapist that her relationship with Bruce is progressing nicely, that she likes him after all, and that they’ve slept together. Responding as a man and not as a doctor, Dr. Framingham is completely threatened by this news. Start, Dr. Framingham: “Hiya, babe, it’s me.” End, Prudence: “I don’t think you do either.”


by Leonard Melfi (Encounters, Six One-Act Plays, by Leonard Melfi, Samuel French)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 12-22, Velma (26) and Frankie (late 20s)

Although Velma and Frankie have been working side by side at the cafeteria, this is the first time they speak. Before the night is out, they’ll go back to his place, but they won’t make love. Try combining the first part of the play, which takes place in the cafeteria, and the second part, which takes place on the street outside the cafeteria. Start, Velma: “Hi.” End, Velma: “You know, Frankie, maybe instead of the coffee I’d better have hot tea instead.”

Drama: One-act play, pp. 30-42, Velma (26) and Frankie (late 20s)

After Frankie and Velma go to his apartment and the liquor starts to take effect, he tries to get a little closer to her. She becomes increasingly agitated, however, and finally turns on him with a knife. Start, Frankie: “Relax, Velma.” Continue to the end of the play. End, Frankie: “I have a treat for you in the morning, Velma. I’ve just written you…a valentine.”


by Eric Bogosian (Love’s Fire—Seven New Plays Inspired by Seven Shakespearean Sonnets, William Morrow, 1998)

Comedy: One-act play, Rengin (a bride, 20s) and Herman (her fiancé, 20s)

Rengin is getting married in the morning, but tonight she’s drunk. When we first see her in her living room, she is sloppily clad in her wedding dress and trying to figure out what to do about Red, the biker with whom she has been having hot sex. Red is scheduled to arrive momentarily for a little pre-wedding roll in the hay. Before Red gets there, however, Rengin’s hapless and unsuspecting fiancé, Herman, arrives. He immediately sets about sobering her up, during which he learns all about Red. End the scene when Red knocks on the door. I suggest you start at the top of the play but skip Herman’s first speech, which is actually supposed to come out of an answering machine. Start, Rengin: “What is this I’m wearing? A white dress.” End, Herman: “Go.”


by Craig Lucas (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Scene 2, pp. 44-346, Libby (33) and Griever (35-40)

Libby is hosting her first dinner party since her husband’s death. She is embarrassed because a cap on her missing front tooth fell off and, anyway, it is “too soon” for her to be trying to give a party. She fears the evening isn’t going well. Griever, her friend and sometimes lover, comforts and consoles her. Start, Griever: “Congratulations, it’s going great, don’t you think?” End, Libby: “Go!”


by Garson Kanin (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 39-42, Billie Dawn (29) and Paul Verrall (30s)

Harry Brock, a corrupt, self-made millionaire, has hired Paul Verrall, a serious-minded journalist to tutor his dumb but beautiful girlfriend, Billie Dawn. Harry is worried that Billie, an ex-chorine, will be inept in social situations as he attempts to influence the movers and shakers in Washington, DC, so he wants Paul to educate her. In this first meeting between the tutor and his charge, sparks of attraction fill the room. Start, Paul: “Your—friend Mr. Brock has an idea he’d like us to spend a little time together. You and me, that is.” End, Billy: “Or the night!”

Comedy: Act I, pp. 43-46, Billie Dawn (29) and Harry Brock (40s)

Toward the end of Act I, Harry and Billie are alone onstage together for the first time, and the audience gets its first look at their relationship, seeing how they communicate in private. Beginning with a silent gin game that Billie readily wins and ending with Harry’s attempt to draw Billie into the upstairs bedroom, this three-page scene illuminates a fascinating status/power struggle. Start, Billy (singing): “…Anything Goes (tata tata—tata tata—tzing!)” End, Billie: “Good authors too, who once—”

Comedy: Act II, pp. 54-59, Billie Dawn (290) and Paul Verrall (30s)

Paul has been tutoring Billie for two months, and she is thriving on the newfound knowledge. To her confusion, however, he hasn’t tried to sleep with her—and she’s up for it. The entire scene runs about fifteen pages. For a shorter version, start, Billie: “Oh, and you know that thing you gave me about Napoleon?” End, Paul: “I know. He’s got a brain of gold.”


by John Guare (Dramatists Play Service, revised edition)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 31-34, Deirdre (20s-30s) and Scooper (late 30s)

Things heat up here when they almost kiss. After that event, we have more subtext going on, adding increased substance to the always-witty dialogue. Start just after the failed kiss. Deirdre: “I’m not married.” End, Deirdre: “What Beethoven is to the sonata, I am to the couch.”


by Howard Korder (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Scene 3, pp. 14-19, Maggie (late 20s) and Jack (late 20s)

Jack and Maggie meet at a children’s playground. He tries to pick her up but bombs out. Both get progressively stoned from marijuana. Start, Maggie (out of breath from running): “Oh God. Oh God.” End, Jack: “One…Two…Three…Four…All right, that’s it. I’m calling mommy!”


by Hugh Whitemore (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 7, pp. 48-54, Pat (early 30s) and Alan Turing (39)

Pat Green is a cryptanalyst working at the Government Code and Cipher School during World War II. Assigned to work with Alan Turing on the German code project, she falls in love with him. In this scene at his mother’s home, Pat and Turing are left alone. She declares her feelings for him but, as she suspected might be the case, he tells her that he is a homosexual. Start, Pat: “She’s quite right, you know.” End, Turing: “It would stop me making love to you. I don’t want that sort of life and I don’t think you do either.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 72-76, Sara (60) and Alan Turing (39)

Alan Turing tells Sara, his mother, that he is homosexual and will have to stand trial for his “crime.” She is shocked to learn about her son’s sexual orientation, having long presumed his lack of interest in women was because he was bookish. This is a very touching scene. Start, Sara: “Alan, my dear, you are so silly!” End, Sara: “Do come and look at the guest room. I’m so pleased with it.”


by Donald Margulies (Theatre Communications Group)

Drama: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 40-50, Eric (40s) and Nina (40s)

Eric comes by the apartment he used to share with Nina to pick up what remains of his belongings. After a trial two-month separation, he would really like to fire the relationship back up, but Nina is committed to moving on. The marriage is officially coming to an end. Nevertheless, these two people clearly still love one another, which gives the scene a very nice kick. Start, Nina: “What’s the matter, you don’t believe in doorbells?” End, Nina: “This is it, bubbie. It’s over. This is what the end looks like.”

Drama: Act I, scene 4, pp. 58-66, Eric (40s) and Allison (20s)

Eric has been signing copies of his novel, Brooklyn Boy, at Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. He picks up a young fan and brings her back to his hotel room. For sex? Maybe. For company? Hard to tell. What she doesn’t know is that he received word earlier today that his father had died. He is reaching out for human contact. The generation gap between them is what fuels the scene. The full Act I, Scene 4, takes up thirteen pages, too long for most acting workshop purposes. I suggest a cut that starts several pages in. Start, Alison: “What do people call you? Continue to the end of Scene 4, after Eric autographs her copy of his novel. End, Eric: “My pleasure.”


by Lanford Wilson (Hill & Wang/Noonday; HarperCollins Canada Ltd.)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Anna (32) and Pale (36)

Anna tells Pale not to mistake their two nights of passion for something permanent. Start, Anna: “Pale, would you do me a favor?” End, Pale: “What’s that mean—truculent?” For scene-study purposes, you can play this with Larry onstage or omit his presence altogether. To eliminate him, cut from Pale’s line, “Hawaii, Brazil. See places” to Anna’s line, “Pale, I don’t even know how this nonsense started; it never should have.” Cut Larry’s lines, too. This will get around the problem of Pale having to leave and change clothes.


by George Bernard Shaw (Signet)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Prosperine (30) and Eugene Marchbanks (18)

Eugene accuses Prosperine, Morell’s secretary, of not being honest about her romantic longings. He manages to elicit something of a confession that she secretly loves Morell, a fact that depresses Eugene because he is convinced that Morell is unlovable. Start, Prosperine: “Bother! You’ve been meddling with my typewriter.” End, Prosperine: “Yes.”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 10-16, Margaret (early 20s) and Brick (27)

Margaret, who is also called Maggie, is dressing for Big Daddy’s party as she and her husband, Brick, bicker and then argue more violently about their nonexistent sex life, his alcoholism, his curious relationship with Skipper, and Big Daddy’s fatal disease. Start, Maggie: “Y’know—your brother Gooper still cherishes the illusion he took a giant step up on the social ladder when he married Miss Mae Flynn of the Memphis Flynns.” End, Margaret: “They’re impossible conditions!”


by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 6, pp. 40-49, Jennie (32) and George (42)

Actress Jennie Malone, newly divorced after a six-year marriage, meets novelist George Schneider, whose wife of fourteen years recently died. The sparks fly in this scene, which is full of wit, embarrassment, and awkwardness. Start, Jennie: “Hello?…Faye, I can’t talk to you now.” End, George: “I can’t believe you’re from the same man who gave us Bambi and Vilma.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 5, pp. 93-104, Jennie (32) and George (42)

George and Jennie had an awful time on their honeymoon. Having just walked into George’s apartment with their luggage, they think they may have made a big mistake by marrying. Play entire scene. Start, Jennie: “That was fun! Three days of rain and two days of diarrhea.” End, George: “We got, as they say in the trade, problems, kid.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 6, pp. 105-114, Faye (35) and Leo (40)

George’s brother, Leo, and Jennie’s friend, Faye, are launching an affair, using Jennie’s old apartment for a clandestine meeting. However, Faye is guilt-ridden, and Leo wants only sex, no romance, so the liaison isn’t working out. Start, Leo: “I’m sorry.” End, Leo: “Hold on to your sheet, kid, kissing is my main thing.”


by Horton Foote (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 26-29, Mrs. Reeves (60ish) and Sheriff Hawes (38-45)

Mrs. Reeves tries to bribe Sheriff Hawes not to kill her son, who is an escaped convict. The scene gets pretty emotional as Mrs. Reeves begs for her son’s life. As such, the role of the mother is best suited for an experienced actress. The play is set in Texas, so southern accents are appropriate. Start, Sheriff Hawes: “Mrs. Reeves, where have you been?” End, Mrs. Reeves: “I hope your child is hunted and killed some day. I hope it is. I hope it is.”


by Michael Jacobs (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 20-25, Michelle (20s) and Allen (20s)

Allen and Michelle have been living together for eighteen months and are returning to their apartment tonight after attending a friend’s wedding. Michelle is mortified because Allen caught the bridal bouquet—and tossed it back. She presses him to make a commitment to marry her. When he balks, she walks out on him. This is a delightful scene for which you’ll need a bed or futon. The characters often dress and undress (no nudity) and get into and out of bed as they fight with and try to seduce one another. Start, Michelle: “I want to thank you for the most embarrassing night of my life!” End, Allen: “I really showed her.”


by Mark Medoff (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 23-25, Sarah (mid-20s) and James (30)

Because Sarah, who is deaf, refuses to speak, preferring to sign, she has been in conflict with James, who is supposed to teach her to speak. But something else is going on. The teacher/student relationship is turning romantic, although neither Sarah nor James has acknowledged this yet. In this short scene, which takes place at a duck pond, Sarah gets jealous of James’s relationship with another student, and her jealousy makes him angry. Then they kiss. Start, James: “Well, at last. ‘Dear Sarah, please meet me at the duck pond after dinner. I’ll bring the stale bread. James Leeds.’” End, James: “It’s always worked before. See, when I get in trouble, I kiss the girl and make everything better. (She exits) Oh, come on, Sarah!…Sarah!”

Drama: Act I, pp. 27-28, Sarah (mid-20s) and James (30)

James meets Sarah while she is working at her regular job as a maid in a school for the deaf. After discovering that she was considered retarded until she was twelve years old, he confronts her. James wants to know if this is why she hates hearing-people, or whether she hates herself. Sarah then accuses him of wanting to teach her the joys of sex with a hearing man and tells him that she was quite promiscuous in her teens. Start, James: “Hello. I left you a note. It said: ‘Please see me this afternoon. I’ll bring the boxing gloves.’ You didn’t come so I ate all the gloves myself. I’m sorry to interrupt your work.” End, James: “Your secret. No hearing person has ever gotten in there to find out…No person, period.”

Drama: Act I, pp. 32-34, Sarah (mid-20s) and James (30)

In this scene, James and Sarah talk about marriage and the prospect of having deaf children. Start, James: “Sorry I’m late. I got held up.” End, James: “I know you want to, but we can’t. The point is, it’s all possible. And you know it. Say it. Say: ‘I know it’s possible.’”

Drama: Act I, pp. 36-38, Sarah (mid-20s) and James (30)

A lovely scene that takes place in Sarah’s childhood bedroom. James tells her about his mother’s suicide, and they cling to each other. Start, Sarah: “My room.” End, Sarah: “You and me. Joined.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 64-68, Sarah (mid-20s) and James (30)

Sarah is going to make a speech before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asking that the school for the deaf be forced to hire more deaf people. She offends James by telling him that she wants Orin, a hearing-impaired person, not James, to translate for her. Their conversation escalates into a big argument, during which James accuses Sarah of refusing to speak just so she can control people. He holds her arms when she tries to sign and, for the first time in the play, she speaks. It isn’t really clear speech, but an expression of passion and frustration. This is an extremely powerful scene. Start, James: “You’re home from work.” Sarah: “It’s exciting to feel I have a job.” End, Sarah: “Me have nothing. Me deafy. Speech inept. Intelligence—tiny block-head. English—blow away. Left one you. Depend—no. Think myself enough. Join. Unjoined.”


by Lillian Hellman (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, pp. 61-54, Karen (28) and Dr. Joseph Cardin (35)

Karen’s fiancé, Dr. Joseph Cardin, guiltily asks her if the allegations about her being a lesbian are true. Deeply hurt, she assures him that they are not and then gives him the opportunity to back out of their relationship with grace. Excellent scene. Begin after Martha’s exit. Start, Cardin: “You’ll like Jake and he’ll like you.” End, Karen: “I don’t think so.”


by Patrick Marber (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 1-12, Alice (24) and Dan (35)

Alice was hit by the taxi in which Dan was a passenger. Hers isn’t a major injury—a cut on the leg—but he escorted her to the hospital emergency room anyway. They get to know one another while waiting for a doctor to see her. He is an aspiring novelist who is working as an obit writer on a newspaper; she is more mysterious, a bit of a drifter, living out of her knapsack. Sparks fly between them. (Note: Larry the doctor briefly interrupts the scene. The actors can easily eliminate him, though.) Start at top of Act I, with Alice fishing in Dan’s briefcase. End, Alice: “Alice. My name is Alice Ayres.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 12-19, Anna (early 30s) and Dan (35)

This scene takes place in a photography studio a year after the first scene. By now, Dan is living with Alice and, inspired by her, has written a novel that is soon to be published. Anna has been hired to photograph Dan for the cover of the book. As was the case in the first scene, an erotic charge permeates the room. Dan learns that Anna is married but separated, and Anna learns about Alice. There is a ten-second kiss late in the scene. (Note: Anna is a photographer and snaps shots of Dan throughout the scene. You’ll need a camera, preferably hooked up to a flash.) Start at top of Scene 2. Anna: “Good.” End, Anna: “Dan…Your shirt.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 28-33, Anna (early 30s) and Larry (mid-30s)

Anna is passing time watching fish in the city aquarium. Larry walks up and introduces himself, erroneously presuming that she is the hot babe he met on the Internet. He thinks he is in for a wild afternoon fling in a motel, and she thinks he is a bit nuts. When they straighten things out, they realize that Larry was tricked by Dan. This isn’t a long scene, but it is fun to play and has many transitions. Start, Larry: “Anna?” End, Larry: “Happy Birthday.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 40-43, Anna (early 30s) and Dan (35)

Anna, who has been going with Larry for the past four months, is having a photography exhibit. Dan shows up and tries to talk her back into his life. A few sparks remain, but she’s not budging. Start Anna: “I can’t talk for long.” End, Dan: “…I’m begging you…I’m your stranger…jump.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 6, pp. 54-61, Anna (early 30s) and Larry (mid-30s)

We are in Larry and Anna’s apartment. He first tells her that he had sex with a whore in Manhattan, expecting her to be furious. Instead of that, she tells him that she is leaving him because she is again involved with Dan. Larry flies into a jealous rage. He wants to know the raw details of her most recent tryst with Dan. Very graphic language. Start, Anna: “Why are you dressed?” Go to the end of Act I. End, Larry: “Now fuck off and die. You fucked-up slag.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 11, pp. 102-111, Alice (24) and Dan (35)

Larry has told Dan that he slept with Alice. In this scene, Dan tests Alice to see if that is true. When he does so, she decides she no longer loves him. She hates being in a position where she doesn’t want to lie and can’t tell the truth. The scene ends cruelly, when Dan hits her. Raw stuff. Actors will chew the scenery with it. Start, Alice: “Show me the sneer.” End, Alice: “Do you have a single original thought in your head?”


by Tina Howe (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 20-24, Leo (28) and Holly (24)

Holly arrives at the beach to take some photographs. Leo, the lifeguard, helps her unfold her tripod, and a relationship begins. Start, Leo: “Well, well, long time, no see.” End, Holly: “Or at least take some pictures of other people for a change—widen my focus for God’s sake.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 4, pp. 73-81, Holly (24) and Andre (49)

Andre, Holly’s lover for the last three years, arrives at the resort for a weekend visit, hoping to patch up their relationship. Elegant and European born, Andre is the owner of an art gallery. The scene requires a tall lifeguard stand. If you can’t believably and safely simulate the structure in class, just omit the references to it and work around it. Start, Holly: “Well, here we are again…the little beach where I spent all my summers as a child. It doesn’t have anywhere near the sweep of Crane’s where I took you yesterday, but…Are you OK?” End, Holly: “I just…can’t.”


by William Inge (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 33-38, Lola (39) and Doc (mid-40s)

In this short scene, Lola wants to talk about the early years of their relationship, but Doc, her husband, doesn’t. Start, Lola: “I love to watch you shuffle cards, Daddy. You use your hands so gracefully. Do me one of your card tricks.” End, Lola: “What are we sitting round here so serious for?…Let’s have some music.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 60-63, Lola (39) and Doc (mid-40s)

Doc comes home drunk and abusive. He verbally destroys Lola and then threatens her with a hatchet. Start, Lola: “Mr. Anderson? Mr. Anderson, this is Mrs. Delaney again.” End, Doc: “Lola…my pretty Lola.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 4, pp. 73-76, Lola (39) and Doc (mid-40s)

Doc arrives home after drying out, humbled and quiet. His long-suffering wife, Lola, does her best to affect an air of normality; she tells him about her dream last night and fixes him dinner. Everything is in the subtext. Start, Lola: “Docky!” End, Lola: “I’ll fix your eggs.”


by Beth Henley (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 26-29, Barnett (26) and Meg (27)

Barnett meets Babe’s older sister, Meg, for the first time. Meg is concerned about his qualifications to defend Babe. Barnett then tells Meg that he excelled in law school; furthermore, he has a personal vendetta against Zachary, the man Babe shot. Start, Barnett: “How do you do?” End, Barnett: “Goodbye.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 34-38, Babe (24) and Barnett (26)

This is the first in-depth interview between lawyer and client. Barnett has a secret crush on Babe. Start, Barnett: “Mmmm-huh! Yes! I see, I see!” End, Babe: “Goodbye, Barnett.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 49-51, Meg (27) and Doc (early 30s)

Meg meets her former flame again, and that old feeling still exists. This scene contains plenty of subtext. Start, Meg: “I feel like hell.” End, Meg: “Yeah—forget the glasses. Forget the goddam glasses.”


by Susan Sandler (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, pp. 39-43, Bubbie (80s) and Sam (early 30s)

Bubbie is a Jewish grandmother with one foot still in the old country. She has employed a matchmaker to cook up a romance for her unmarried granddaughter, Isabelle, but the young woman isn’t interested. Bubbie tells the matchmaker’s choice, Sam, that he is going to have to pursue Isabelle with more fervor if he wants to win her heart. Sam is more than willing. Start, Bubbie: “In that corner.” End, Bubbie: “Who invited her?”

Comedy: Act II, pp. 60-63, Isabelle (late 20s) and Tyler (early 40s)

Isabelle has become infatuated with Tyler, a romantic novelist who frequents the bookstore where she works. In some fairly unsubtle ways, she has let him know that she is interested in him. In this scene, Isabelle and Tyler are alone for the first time in a romantic setting. She quickly discovers that he primarily wants to go to bed with her, that he is a smooth-talking fast mover. She then tells him to kiss off. Start, Isabelle: “You put on a new hat, you become a new person.” End, Isabelle: “There’s an old Yiddish expression my Bubbie taught me—quite appropriate here—kush mir in tuchas.

Comedy: Act II, pp. 63-68, Isabelle (late 20s) and Sam (early 30s)

Sam and Isabelle’s introduction was arranged by a matchmaker, but she has resisted such an old-world custom. Even though Sam has charmingly pursued her, Isabelle has had her sights fixed on a romantic novelist who frequents the bookstore where she works. Earlier this evening, Isabelle stood Sam up, opting for dinner with the novelist, a date that turned into disaster when he was too sexually aggressive. Now, hat in hand, Isabelle returns to her grandmother’s apartment and discovers that Sam has been waiting for her all this time. By the end of the scene, love blooms, and they are in each other’s arms. A very sweet and romantic five-page scene. Start, Isabelle: “I didn’t think you’d still be here.” End, Isabelle: “It’s all right.”


by Arthur Miller (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 27-31, Elizabeth Proctor (25-32) and John Proctor (mid-30s)

At first, this appears to be a scene of domestic tranquility in the Puritan community, but it turns out that John committed adultery with young Abigail Williams several months ago and, although he has confessed and asked for forgiveness, Elizabeth is still madly jealous. Abigail and a group of other young women and girls have accused some local citizens of being witches, and trials are under way in Salem. Elizabeth wants John to go to Salem and discredit Abigail, which he could easily do, but he resists because he doesn’t want his adultery to become public knowledge. From Elizabeth’s perspective, of course, it appears that John is still lusting after Abigail and simply doesn’t want to hurt her. Start, Elizabeth: “What keeps you so late? It’s almost dark.” End, Proctor: “Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 48-51, Abigail Williams (17) and John Proctor (mid-30s)

It is the night before Elizabeth Proctor’s trial for the charge of practicing witchcraft. Here in the woods near Salem, John Proctor is meeting urgently with Abigail Williams, his former lover and the young woman who is responsible for Elizabeth’s arrest. He warns Abigail that if she doesn’t recant, he is prepared to announce publicly in court that they’ve been lovers and that she is motivated by jealousy. Furthermore, John claims to have documented evidence that Abigail knew all along that Elizabeth isn’t a witch; he is ready to present this in court, too. Abigail, reacting with furious defiance, challenges him to carry out his threat. Start, Proctor: “I must speak with you, Abigail.” End, Abigail: “…From yourself I will save you.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 84-86, Elizabeth Proctor (25-32) and John Proctor (mid-30s)

John is sentenced to hanging for being a witch. He can save his own life only by admitting that he is under control of the devil. In this short, emotional scene, he tells his pregnant wife, Elizabeth, that he has decided to confess and tell the judges what they want to hear so that he can live. She responds by saying that whatever be his choice, she can’t be his judge because she too has sinned. Had she been a good and loving wife in the first place, John wouldn’t have been literally on the gallows steps. Start, Elizabeth: “You have been chained?” End, Proctor: “…Good then, it is evil, and I do it!”


by John Patrick Shanley (Dramatists Play Service) (13 by Shanley, Applause Books)

Drama: Scene 1, Dramatists Play Service pp. 12-19, Roberta (31) and Danny (29)

Danny and Roberta meet in a Bronx bar and, despite their hostile, defensive facades, are attracted to one another. They talk across the room, she moves to his table, they talk some more and, finally, they go to her place for the night. Danny tells Roberta that he thinks he killed a man, and she confesses to him that she had sex with her father when she was a child. This is a difficult scene because the characters are alternately vile and kind to one another. Start, Roberta: “You ever been in jail?” End, Roberta: “Come on. Let’s get outta here. Let’s go home.”

Drama: Scene 2, Dramatists Play Service pp. 23-32, Roberta (31) and Danny (29)

After Danny and Roberta make love, their defenses slowly begin to crumble. It is hard, very hard, for Roberta and Danny to accept love or kindness. He asks her to marry him. Start, Roberta: “I went to the deli this mornin’ to get a roll. Chinese guy put it in the bag.” End, Danny: “Are you asleep? I love you.”

Drama: Scene 3, Dramatists Play Service pp. 32-39, Roberta (31) and Danny (29)

In the cold light of day, the tenderness of the night before embarrasses Roberta, and she climbs back inside herself, trying to reject Danny. He refuses to be unkind, saying he meant everything he said last night and still wants to marry her. Finally, Roberta moves toward Danny. Start, Roberta: “Tag!” End, Danny: “Yeah. I do. I definitely definitely think I do.”


by William Inge (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 22-28, Rubin (36) and Cora (34)

This scene features an emotionally and physically abusive fight between a husband and a wife. Rubin, struggling to make financial ends meet, is furious when he discovers that Cora has secretly bought an expensive party dress for their daughter, Reenie. The argument escalates when Cora accuses him of fooling around with other women during his business trips. Rubin slaps her and storms out. Omit Reenie’s brief interruption of their fight. Start, Rubin: “What the hell’s been goin’ on behind my back?” End, Cora: “I’ll never forget what you’ve said. Never! Don’t you ever come back in this house again!”


by J. P. Miller (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, pp. 45-48, Joe (36) and Kristen (30)

Joe has been sober for almost a year, has a steady job, and is pulling himself and Debbie, his young daughter, out of the gutter. His wife, Kristen, unexpectedly appears at the apartment one night when Debbie is asleep; Kristen asks Joe to take her back, telling him that she hasn’t had a drink in two days. Although he longs for her, he realizes that, as long as she is in denial about her alcoholism, the relationship will be impossible. He refuses. Start, Kristen: “Debbie asleep?” Continue to the end of the play. End, Joe: “God—grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”


by Ariel Dorfman (Penguin)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, Paulina (40) and Gerardo (45)

Paulina is convinced that Roberto is her former torturer. She tells her husband, Gerardo, that she intends to put the man, who is tied up in the living room, “on trial.” Eliminate the short section where Paulina goes to Roberto, tightens his bonds, and speaks to him. Start, Gerardo: “What are you trying to do? What are you trying to do, woman, with these insane acts?” End, Gerardo: “No need to smile at him but basically yes, that is what we have to do. And start to live, yes.”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, Paulina (40) and Gerardo (45)

Paulina agrees to tell Gerardo the truth about the details of her captivity and torture fifteen years ago if he’ll tell her the truth about a woman she found in his bed. Start, Paulina: “I don’t understand why.” End, Paulina: “That’s when I met Doctor Miranda.”


by Edward Albee (Plume)

Drama: Scene 2, Nurse (26) and Father (55)

Both father and daughter are southern racists. They argue about who is going to have use of the car. The daughter, who is a nurse, wants to use it to drive to work, and the father wants to use it to go down to the Democratic Club and hang out with the other politicos. A nasty duo. Start, Father: “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” End, Father: “And don’t you stay out there all night in his car, when you get back. You hear me? You hear me?”

Drama: Scene 4, Nurse (26) and Orderly (28)

The white nurse is a racist, and the African-American orderly is trying to improve himself. In this rough scene, he talks about what he hopes to do in life, and she shoots him down, accusing him of bleaching his skin so that he’ll be more acceptable to whites. The nurse has a very foul mouth. Start, Orderly: “The mayor of Memphis! I went into his room and there he was, the mayor of Memphis.” End, Nurse: “Yes’m…yes’m…ha, ha, ha! You white blacks kill me.”

Drama: Scene 6, Nurse (26) and Intern (30)

The intern has been trying unsuccessfully for some time to get the nurse into bed, but she continues to tease him. In this scene, he presses his case, and she cruelly reminds him that he can’t afford her on an intern’s salary. They argue about politics, she insults him again, and he remarks that he is probably the only undersixty white man in the vicinity who hasn’t had sex with her. After the nurse threatens to have the intern fired, she backs off, instructing him instead to court her. This difficult scene is appropriate for experienced actors. Start, Nurse: “Well, how is the Great White Doctor this evening?” End, Intern: “You impress me. No matter what else, I have to admit that.”


by Edward Albee (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 36-39, Julia (36) and Tobias (early 60s)

Julia’s fourth marriage is on the rocks, and she has returned to her parents’ home. Tensions that usually run high here are exacerbated by the strange presence of family friends Harry and Edna in the upstairs bedroom. Like a couple of adversarial and wary woods animals, Julia and Tobias, her father, talk about these events. Start, Tobias: “What was that…all about?” End, Tobias: “Your brother would not have grown up to be a fag.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 68-73, Agnes (late 50s) and Tobias (early 60s)

Because all the guest bedrooms are full of visitors, both welcome and unwelcome, Tobias had to sleep with his wife, Agnes, last night. This morning, they discuss the implications, and Agnes presses Tobias to make a decision regarding the guests. Begin at the top of Act III. Start, Agnes: “Ah, there you are.” End, Agnes: “I don’t know. I’m listening.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 73-76, Agnes (late 50s) and Tobias (early 60s)

In this continuation of the preceding scene, Agnes and Tobias talk about the death of their infant son thirty-four years ago and how the event altered their sex life. Start, Agnes: “Well, isn’t that nice that Julia’s making coffee? No?” End, Agnes: “Whatever you like. Naturally.”


by Donald Margulies (Theatre Communications Group)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 19-27, Beth (40s) and Tom (40s)

This is a crackerjack marriage-on-the-rocks scene. Tom has told Beth that, after twelve years together, he doesn’t love her any more and in fact is in love with a travel agent. Earlier this evening, Beth had dinner with their best friends, Karen and Gabe, and told them that the marriage has fallen apart. As we enter this scene, Beth is back at home and has put the two children to bed. Tom is supposed to be in Washington, DC, on a business trip. As Beth gets ready for bed herself, Tom suddenly appears in the bedroom doorway, having been snowed out at the airport. Their bickering accusations escalate into a flat-out fight. The tension builds, turns into a wrestling match on the bed and, in the final moments, erupts into raw sexuality. Start with Tom’s entrance. Beth: “Tom! Jesus…” Go through the end of the scene. It is important that the actors include the nonverbal sexuality at the end, as the lights dim.


by Steve Tesich (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 23-27, Sal (30s) and Dianah (30s)

Sal is Dianah’s nebbish Legal Aid Society lawyer. An unassertive man most people ignore, Sal is desperately in love with Dianah, but she still has eyes only for her estranged husband, Chris. Here, Sal declares his undying love while Dianah carries on about Chris and how great their life was during the 1960s radical movement. Both characters have good comic monologues in this scene. Start, Dianah: “Chris! Chris! Chris!” End, Sal: “Hurt me! I don’t care!”

Comedy: Act I, pp. 39-43, Chris (37) and Nadja (19)

Nadja the slut shows up at Chris’s apartment, mistaking him for a john. They share their stories and are attracted to each other. You’ll need an actor to play dead on the floor the whole time. Start, Chris: “I’m coming.” End, Nadja: “Well, I will not be a whore. I’m a slut.”


by Don Petersen (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 34-42, Linda (18) and Conrad (20)

Linda and Conrad have just finished having sex in a midnight session on the floor of Mr. Winter’s office. In this postcoital scene, they talk about the future. Conrad hopes to kick his drug habit, but Linda is more cynical, looking at a short life as a junkie hooker. As the scene progresses, they become more polarized while, at the same time, they experience a true “connection.” Eliminate Tonto’s interruption. Start, Conrad: “Baby, if old Pete could see us now, he’d flip.” End, Linda: “You keep ’em! The trick was on the house. I don’t want your cigarettes…or nothing else you got!”


by Henrik Ibsen, Adapted by Frank McGuinness (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 22-27, Krogstad (30s-40s) and Nora (25-35)

Krogstad threatens to blackmail Nora with the forged loan document. Start, Krogstad: “I beg your pardon, Mrs. Helmer—” End, Krogstad: “…If I am hurled back into the gutter a second time, I will take you with me.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 37-40, Dr. Rank (58-65) and Nora (25-35)

Nora is going to ask longtime family friend, Doctor Rank, for a secret loan so that she can pay off her blackmailer. Before she can ask, however, Doctor Rank tells her that he has always loved her. With that knowledge, she can’t ask for the money. Start, Nora: “Dr. Rank, it’s you. Don’t go into Torvald yet. I believe he is busy.” End, Nora: “…But you can imagine being with Torvald is a little bit like being with Papa.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 41-43, Krogstad (30s-40s) and Nora (25-35)

Krogstad, now formally fired from the bank, is bent on revenge and determined to follow through with his blackmail threat unless Nora intercedes immediately on his behalf with her husband. Start, Nora: “…Keep your voice down. My husband’s at home.” End, Krogstad:”…I will never forgive him for that. Goodbye, Mrs. Helmer.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 48-51, Mrs. Linde (30-35) and Krogstad (30s-40s)

This is a late, surprise development in the story. Up until now, the audience has not known that Mrs. Linde and Krogstad were anything more than acquaintances. It turns out that they were once romantically involved, and Mrs. Linde dropped him for another man. In this scene, she proposes a new romance to him and, after a bit of negotiation, he accepts. Start, Mrs. Linde: “Come in, no one’s here.” End, Mrs. Linde: “It’s happened. It’s actually happened. Someone to work for, someone to live for. A home to bring joy to. I’ll make it so comfortable.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 61-67, Helmer (40s) and Nora (25-35)

This is the famous climax of the play, in which Nora stands up to her husband and, in the end, walks out the door into a life of her own. I have decided to begin the scene selection after Nora has returned from the bedroom and has changed into her day clothes. When she reenters, Helmer is surprised by what he sees. Start, Helmer: “…What’s this? I thought you had gone to bed. Have you changed?” End with Nora’s exit. Nora: “That our marriage could become a life together. Goodbye.” You can, if you want, end on Helmer’s last line after Nora has departed.


by John Patrick Shanley (Theatre Communications Group)

Drama: Scene VII, pp. 38-42, Father Flynn (30s) and Sister James (20s)

In the garden, Sister James tells Father Flynn that she does not believe he molested a student at the school. She acknowledges that all her original suspicions can be tracked back to conversations with Sister Aloysius. She is torn between loyalty to her superior and her priest. Start, Flynn: “Good afternoon, Sister James.” End, Flynn: “…That’s a great relief to me. Thank you very much.”

Drama: pp. 50-56, Father Flynn (30s) and Sister Aloysius (50s-60s)

Fireworks go off during this scene between two strong-willed people. Sister Aloysius tells Flynn directly that she wants him to resign, that he doesn’t belong in the priesthood given his behavior with a young male student. However, such alleged behavior is total speculation on the part of Aloysius. Finally, Flynn implores her not to do this, that it would ruin his career. It falls on deaf ears. Start, Flynn: “May I come in.” End, Flynn: “…I need to make an appointment to see the bishop.”


by Anton Chekhov (The Sneeze: Plays and Stories by Anton Chekhov, translated and adapted by Michael Frayn, Samuel French)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 22-30, Pavel Vasilyevich (35-50) and Murashkina (25-50)

In this eight-page play, Pavel Vasilyevich wants to be nice to the woman who shows up on his doorstep because, after all, she is an avid admirer of his writing. But Murashkina has written a drama and wants his feedback on its merits. Refusing to leave it for him to read later, she begins to read it aloud. At first Pavel is patient, but when she continues to read the quite awful material, he becomes increasingly distraught. Finally, when Murashkina won’t stop, he takes out a knife and kills her. Start, Murashkina: “Such an admirer! Every book, every play! Such a talent!” End, Pavel: “Nice twist at the end, though.”


by Elmer Rice (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 25-30, Georgina Allerton (23) and Clark Redfield (28)

Clark Redfield sells a few review copies of some books to Georgina Allerton at the Mermaid Bookshop. She is both attracted to and repelled by him; eventually, however, her hate-at-first-sight turns into love. Clark says that he has finished reading the novel she wrote, and it is awful. This criticism outrages her. Omit the telephone call Georgina places to her mother. Start, Clark: “Good morning, Miss Allerton.” End, Georgina: “You great big ape!”


by Ronald Harwood (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 60-63, Sir (about 60) and Her Ladyship (50s)

Between acts of King Lear, Her Ladyship talks to Sir in his dingy dressing room. She implores the increasingly frail man to retire and to make the announcement after that night’s performance, but he won’t entertain the notion. They speak of their relationship, having lived together for years as husband and wife without benefit of marriage. In fact, Sir has never obtained a divorce from his first wife, probably because he didn’t want to jeopardize his chances for a knighthood. Start, Sir: “Is it my cue?” End, Sir: “I shall never forgive them for what they wrote about me.”


by Tom Kempinski (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Session 1, pp. 1-8, Stephanie Abrahams (33) and Dr. Feldmann (45-60)

World-famous violinist Stephanie Abrahams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis seven months ago. Now deprived of her life’s defining skill, she has become depressed and suicidal. Here, Stephanie meets Dr. Feldmann, a psychiatrist, and tries to cover over her pain with airs, humor, and other diversions. But he isn’t fooled. Dr. Feldmann has a slight German accent. Stephanie is in a wheelchair almost all the time so, unless you can find a real wheelchair, you’ll have to fake it for scenework. Written in the British vernacular, Stephanie can be portrayed with a standard American accent. Start, Feldmann: (offstage) “Mrs. Liebermann.” End, Stephanie: “Well, good-bye, and thank you.”


by Sidney Michaels (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 11-20, Caitlin (mid-30s) and Dylan (38)

Caitlin doesn’t want Dylan to go on the scheduled lecture tour of the United States. She is afraid he’ll spend his money on liquor and his time with other women, and that he’ll burn out as an artist. What is worse, she’ll be left in Wales to care for their three young children—with no money. Dylan speaks with a Welsh accent, while Caitlin has an Irish accent. Start, Caitlin: “So here you are, you scum.” End, Caitlin: “Oh, Dylan, Dylan—Hurry up!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 52-59, Meg (mid-20s) and Dylan (38)

Meg is educated, responsible, attractive, and not the least charmed by Dylan’s little-boy-lost persona. Or is she? In this scene, which takes place at 4:30 A.M. in Meg’s Greenwich Village apartment, she tends to a quite-drunk Dylan. He is bloodied from a random fight, looks sloppy, and is soaking wet from standing in the rain. As Meg undresses Dylan, he makes haphazard romantic passes. As he sobers up a bit, they discuss his sad financial status, the unhappy state of his marriage, and his lack of artistic output. She gives him some hard-nosed advice. Then they go to bed together. The scene calls for a practical bathtub. You can get around that by eliminating reference to it and simply having Meg undress Dylan to dry his clothes. Also, you’ll need an offstage telephone to ring. Start, Dylan: “The sky’s divorced! The weather’s go boom. What are we doing? Who am I?” End, Meg: “There are needs in this world that have nothing to do with love, and marriages that never get recorded in a court house. Happy birthday, Dylan.”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 11-13, Alma Winemiller (25-29) and John Buchanan (25-29)

This later version of Summer and Smoke takes place during a Fourth of July celebration in Glorious Hill, Mississippi, just before World War I. Alma, the high-strung daughter of the local Episcopal minister, has just performed a song before the celebratory crowd. What is really on her mind, however, is seeing John, the next-door boy she has loved from afar all these years. In this scene, Alma and John sit near the fountain and catch up. He has finished medical school and will soon leave for Cuba on a grand adventure to fight some mysterious epidemic—and to meet some senoritas, the “caviar among females.” Start, John: “Hello, Miss Alma.” End, Alma: “Be careful you don’t get caught. They say that the tropics are a perfect quagmire. People go there and never are heard of again.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 15-20, Alma Winemiller (25-29) and Rev. Winemiller (60s)

Rev. Winemiller, Alma’s father, is concerned about his daughter’s ever-more-apparent eccentricities, and urges her to control them. Start, Rev. Winemiller: “Actually, we have about the same number of communicants we’ve had for the past ten years.” End, Alma: “I can’t breathe!” For a shorter version, start Rev. Winemiller: “Alma. Sit down for a moment. There’s something I want to talk to you about.” Continue to the same end.

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 29-32, Mrs. Buchanan (50-60) and John Buchanan (25-29)

Mrs. Buchanan, John’s doting mother, tries to steer him away from any involvement with Alma, warning him that she is an eccentric—one of those odd people you’ll find in almost any southern town. Start, Mrs. Buchanan: “Son?” End, Mrs. Buchanan: “Heavens, yes, that’s a story, but it’s too long for bedtime. Good night, my precious! Sleep tight!”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 38-43, Alma Winemiller (25-29) and John Buchanan (25-29)

Alma is having a panic attack and goes next door to John’s house at 2 A.M. to get some medicine. He lowers the lights and gives her some brandy, and she settles down. He unbuttons her blouse to listen to her heart and diagnoses her as “lonely.” This makes her angry, and she tells him off for being condescending. John then invites Alma to go to the movies the next day. This is a pretty intense scene for Alma, and it ends with an oblique hint of future sexual activity between them. Eliminate Mrs. Buchanan’s lines. Start, John: “Why, it’s you, Miss Alma!” End, John: “I’ll take you to see Mary Pickford at the Delta Brilliant tomorrow.”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, pp. 44-49, Alma Winemiller (25-29) and John Buchanan (25-29)

Alma behaves in a fashion she never would have in Summer and Smoke. She is quite sexually aggressive with John, openly inviting him to go to a hotel room that is rented by the hour. Start, Alma: “God.” End, Alma: “Give me something to guarantee your return!”

Drama: Act III, Scene 2, pp. 49-53, Alma Winemiller (25-29) and John Buchanan (25-29)

A terrific scene that takes place on New Year’s Eve in a cheap hotel room. At first, the fireplace won’t light, and the romantic adventure seems to be a flop. Then the fire springs to life, and the scene ends with Alma and John moving toward the bed. Start, John: “Here it is, the room is cold.” End, John: “No one has ever been able to answer that question.”


by N. Richard Nash (Samuel French)

Drama: Sam (25-35) and Tilda (20-25)

Echoes is a two-act, two-character drama that takes place in a single room in a mental institution where the characters are under constant surveillance through surrounding two-way mirrors. Sam and Tilda move continually in and out of reality, playing pretend games and fighting pretend enemies. Editing this material for scenework is challenging but worthwhile. For a six-page scene, begin at the top of Act I (pp. 5-11). Here, Sam and Tilda wake up in the morning and decorate an imaginary Christmas tree. Tilda talks to herself, a problem that they discuss, and Sam hears someone call him a name. Start, Tilda: “Sam!…Sammy!…Sa-mu-el! Sammy—please—wake up!” End, Sam: “There are only two of us! Who the hell can I blame? I don’t know his name any better than I know my own.”

For another six-page excerpt, begin shortly after the preceding dialogue ends (pp. 11-17). After Sam and Tilda talk about names, she wants to play teacher. He resists because he is a real teacher. Then Tilda tries to break the imaginary window in which she sees her unwanted reflection. Next, they play imaginary baseball. Start, Tilda: “I wish we didn’t have any fixed names.” End, Tilda: “There’s still nobody there…except me.”

Another option is to begin in Act I where Tilda sings “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and climbs to place the angel on top of the imaginary tree (pp. 35-41). Once there, she becomes transfixed. Start, Tilda: “Is she on all right?” End, Sam: “Help me! Hey, you—Person!” This excerpt runs about six pages, and the following scene from Act II runs about seven pages long. Begin at the top of the act as Tilda tries to wake up Sam (pp. 43-50). She pretends to take off her clothes, and he touches her cheek in a gentle moment. Tilda then tells Sam about her bad dream, in which he was talking to “The Person” (the doctor)—but it wasn’t a dream at all. Sam and Tilda then talk of death and the illusion of communication, as well as play with echoes. Sam is beginning to have real difficulty staying with Tilda in the “pretend” world. Start, Tilda: “Good morning! Good morning, Sammy!” End, Tilda: “I’m sorry, Sam.”

Act II provides other opportunities. In a five-page dialogue, Sam has heard the doctor call a name and is trying to figure out what it means (pp. 50-55). Tilda is increasingly desperate to keep Sam in their “pretend” world, but he is having trouble staying there. She pretends to watch television, but he doesn’t. Start, Sam: “Jess!” End, Sam: “I don’t know.”

A longer, seven-page scene in Act II is another choice (pp. 61-68). Here, Sam has just finished talking to the doctor again and is reporting what he said to Tilda. The doctor told Sam about his wife and three-year-old son and said he’ll soon be allowed to visit with them. More than anything, Tilda doesn’t want Sam to leave her, but that is exactly what happens as the curtain falls. Start, Sam: “You were right. He didn’t answer any of the big questions. About God.” End, Tilda: “…Mama!…Ma-ma!…Ma-ma!”


by Willy Russell (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 22-27, Rita (26) and Frank (50s)

This is the first major transition in the play. Last night, when Rita’s husband discovered that she has been secretly going to school, he burned her books. She arrives this morning for her regular tutorial session with Frank, and they connect on a deeper level than before. She talks him into going with her to a movie. Written in the British vernacular. Start, Frank: “You know, this is getting to be a bit wearisome.” End, Rita: “Don’t go spoilin’ it for me.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 7, pp. 50-52, Rita (26) and Frank (50s)

Almost a year has gone by since Rita began studying with Frank, and they know each other pretty well, though not romantically. Because of his drinking, he is being exiled to the university system in Australia and, as the two-page final scene begins, is packing his stuff. Rita arrives to tell Frank that she has developed a deeper appreciation for him and his values. He invites her to go to Australia with him. Maybe she will, and maybe she won’t. Before she does anything else, she gives him a symbolic (as in a quick surface change) haircut. He sits down, and she begins. Written in the British vernacular. Start, Rita: “Merry Christmas, Frank. Have they sacked y’?” End, Frank: “Ouch!”


by Ruth Wolff (Broadway Play Publishing)

Drama: Act I, Tzu-Hsi (60s) and Jung Lu (60s)

Tzu-Hsi’s long-banished former lover, soldier Jung Lu, has returned to warn the empress about a spirit of rebellion in the land and urges her to stop it. Start, Jung Lu: “Empress.” End, Jung Lu: “The day you cease to be in power will be the day you cease to live.”

Drama: Act I, Tzu-Hsi (60s) and Kwang Yu-Wei (30s)

Kuang-Hsu, the ineffectual Emperor, has issued a series of edicts that are heavily influenced by his activist tutor, Kwang Yu-Wei. When Tzu-Hsi reads them, she flies into a rage, not only because this was done behind her back, but because the clear intent of the rulings is to embrace western culture. She summons the tutor and, in this scene, they battle over the wisdom of the papers. Finally, Tzu-Hsi signs an order banishing Kwang Yu-Wei from the country. Start, Tzu-Hsi: “I have read—the Emperor’s—new edicts. They are immensely edifying.” End, Tzu-Hsi: “From the moment you leave my sight, your life is in peril! Go!”


by Joseph Stein (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 24-28, David (20) and Angela (28-32)

David is definitely smelling the greasepaint and anticipating the roar of the crowd when he comes to sexy Angela’s theater dressing room to rehearse their big scene. He is dazzled by her relaxed sensuality and jaded glamour while she is bemused by his youth and innocence. He is a very young twenty, while she is a fully seasoned twenty-eight. An extremely funny scene. Start, Angela: “Enter!” End, David: “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”


by Edward Albee (adapted from the play by Giles Cooper, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 28-35, Jenny (late 30s) and Richard (43)

Unbeknownst to her husband, Richard, Jenny has secretly begun working as a high-priced prostitute and is making good money. She mails a bundle of cash to him at home from an “anonymous” donor. He is shocked by this blessing from heaven but, with her encouragement, agrees to keep the money and not take it to the police. Begin at the top of Act I, Scene 2. Start, Jenny: “Hello.” End, Jenny: “Call it five thousand even; sounds so much nicer.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 41-47, Jenny (late 30s) and Richard (43)

Richard discovers that Jenny, his very respectable wife, is working as a high-priced call girl. This powerful scene provides plenty of fun for actors who want to chew the scenery. Begin after Jack’s exit. Start, Jenny: “Is Jack gone?” End, Richard: “…men kill their wives for this sort of thing.” Jenny: “Oh, darling.”


by William Mastrosimone (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 8-15, Marjorie (25-30) and Raul (30-45)

This very physical scene centers on an attempted rape, which begins with a psychological cat-and-mouse-style pursuit and then turns violent. At the last minute, when Raul has Marjorie pinned to the floor, she gets the upper hand, sprays poison in his face, and then ties him up. Actors need to be careful with blocking. It is easy to injure yourself when enacting a physical fight like this. Start, Raul: “Joe? Hey, Joe? It’s me. How ya doin’? Joe in?” Stop when Marjorie sprays insecticide in his face. End, Marjorie: “Just for you!”

Drama: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 18-24, Marjorie (25-30) and Raul (30-45)

Raul is tied up in the fireplace, blindfolded, and in pain from the insecticide Marjorie sprayed in his eyes when he tried to rape her. She tries to find out how he knows her name and so many details of her life. She becomes increasingly violent toward him. Here, the victim becomes the victimizer. Start, Raul: “Where am I? Marjorie? Where am I?” End, Marjorie: “Talk again and I smash you like a fuckin’ bug!”


by Noel Coward (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act III, pp. 46-51, Julia (late 20s) and Willy (30s)

When Willy returns from his golf weekend, he discovers that his wife, Jane, isn’t at home, so he goes to see if she is with her friend Julia. Julia and Jane had a terrible fight last night, however, and Julia is jealous and convinced that Jane is somewhere with Maurice, the handsome Frenchman. Julia tells Willy everything about the women’s respective prenuptial romances with Maurice. Willy is stunned to learn that his wife might be having an affair at this very moment. Start, Willy: “Good morning, Julia.” End, Julia: “I don’t care if she’s feeling heavenly, she won’t be when I’m finished with her.”


by Henry Denker (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 61-66, Elizabeth (20s) and Freud (37)

Under Freud’s insistent encouragement, his patient Elizabeth recalls painful childhood events surrounding her father’s illness and death. She goes from being flirtatiously happy to sobbing and dissolving into anguished hysteria. Start, Freud: “Elizabeth.” End, Elizabeth: “Dead? Oh! No! Oh! No!”

Drama: Act III, pp. 71-84, Elizabeth (20s) and Freud (37)

Freud has determined that the mysterious pain and paralysis in Elizabeth’s legs has been caused by guilt over her love for Frederick, her brother-in-law. In this very emotional scene, she reluctantly acknowledges that she has been in love with Frederick and that she was, in fact, happy to see her sister, Charlotte, die. The guilt resulting from these feelings led to Elizabeth’s phantom leg pain and made her an invalid. As Freud points out to her, the pain ensured that people would think of her as “poor Elizabeth” rather than “terrible Elizabeth.”

As these thoughts surface, Elizabeth cries out in anguish and discovers that she can once again walk. Begin as Freud enters his office to greet Elizabeth. Simply ignore the argument between Martha and Frederick that takes place simultaneously outside Freud’s office. Start, Freud: “Good morning, Lisl—how to you feel today? No crutches today?” Stop as Elizabeth walks toward the door. End, Elizabeth: “No, let me! I’ve never opened that door myself.” This scene runs thirteen pages. For a shorter, eight-page version, begin immediately after the Martha/Frederick argument outside the door. Start, Freud: “Elizabeth! Right now—do you have a pain?” Continue to the same end.


by Oliver Hailey (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 46-50, Louise (30-35) and Tom (32-38)

Louise is distraught because her seven-year-old son has chosen to live with his father in the Midwest. She makes one last futile—and pathetic—attempt to reconstruct the ideal family that never was. When Louise asks Tom to divorce his present wife and remarry her, he refuses. Start, Louise:”…what are you smirking about?” End, Louise: “Admitted!”


by August Wilson (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 62-68, Troy (53) and Rose (43)

Troy tells Rose, his wife, that he is going to have a child by another woman. She isn’t happy to hear this. For scene-study purposes, omit Gabriel’s interruption and few lines. Start, Rose: “What they say down there? What’s happening with Gabe?” End, Troy: “Don’t you tell that lie on me!”


by Leslie Lee (Samuel French) (Black Thunder: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Drama, Mentor/Penguin)

Drama: Act I, Samuel French pp. 15-23, Lucretia (17) and Sam (20)

This flashback sequence takes place during the late 1920s or early 1930s in the Deep South. Sam, who is African-American, got into an altercation with a white customer at the train station when he defended an elderly porter who had dropped some baggage. Instead of being grateful to Sam, the old fellow apologized to the white man, humiliating Sam. Determined now to move on to the next town, he bought his girlfriend, Lucretia, a strand of imitation pearls as a going-away present. When Sam tells her he is leaving, she flies into a rage and calls him names, and he slaps her. Then they reconcile and, as the scene ends, move to the bed to make love. What he doesn’t know is that she is already pregnant. Start, Lucretia: “Oh, Sam, those are lovely!—They really are!” End, Lucretia: “Sam?…Sam, I—I want to talk to you about…something.”

Drama: Act I, pp. 27-29, Lucretia (17) and Sam (20)

Sam is packed to leave and is standing at the door. When Lucretia tells him that she is pregnant, he isn’t happy to hear the news. He says that he’ll send her his address and that when the baby comes, she should contact him. They both know, however, that this is the last time they’ll see each other. This short scene is filled with emotion. Start, Lucretia: “Are you leaving now, Sam?” End, Lucretia: “Sam, I’m scared…all of a sudden I’m scared!”

Drama: Act I, pp. 32-35, Lucretia (18) and Briton (early 20s)

Lucretia and her child live with the southern white family she works for as a domestic. Briton, the family’s adopted son, lusts for Lucretia and aggressively pursues her. She doesn’t really love him; she longs to be held, even if it is by “Mr. Briton.” In this scene, he pursues, and she resists. Finally, he grabs her, kisses her, and she responds. Then she pulls away as she hears the family coming home downstairs. Start, Lucretia: “Mr. Briton, I—I haven’t finished my cleaning, and I got cooking to do.” End, Briton: “Tomorrow, Lucretia, do you hear?…Lucretia?…Tomorrow! We’re outcasts—okay?”

Drama: Act I, pp. 42-47, Lucretia (18) and Briton (early 20s)

When Lucretia tells Briton that she is pregnant, suddenly he isn’t so affectionate with his favorite “negra.” Start, Briton: “I’ve decided, goddammit, Lucretia! Just now, laying here with you! I’m not going back to school!” End, Lucretia: “Briton…don’t…don’t say no more, please!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 62-66, Lucretia (20s) and Harper (30s)

Lucretia now has two illegitimate children and is trying to get a husband. She has her eye set on Harper Edwards, a very shy and sexually inexperienced miner who is studying for the ministry. In this scene of chaste courtship, it is clear that she has told him she is a widow, and he is already planning on having her in his future. Start, Lucretia: “You have to go now, Harper?” End, Lucretia: “Your hat, Harper, don’t forget it!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 71-73, Lucretia (20s) and Harper (30s)

In this short scene, Lucretia’s lie about being a widow is about to catch up with her. On Harper’s first day of preaching, a man in the congregation tells Harper that he recognized Lucretia’s child. When Harper confronts her, Lucretia lies again, claiming that she has never been in Roanoke. Still trusting her, Harper plans to marry her soon. Start, Lucretia: “I keep saying to myself: That’s Reverend Edwards—Reverend Edwards!” End, Lucretia: “Never been to Roanoke in my life—not even near it…wouldn’t know it if I stumbled over it!”


by David Henry Hwang (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 14-19, Grace (20) and Steve (late 20s)

Grace is alone at her parents’ Chinese restaurant when Steve enters, declaring that he is Gwan Gung, the Chinese god of warriors, writers, and prostitutes. To Steve’s dismay, Grace seems unimpressed and sends him outside to see if anyone recognizes him. Start, Grace: “Aaaai-ya!” End, Steve: “Very well. You will learn—learn not to test the spirit of Gwan Gung.”


by Sam Shepard (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: One-act play, pp. 8-13, May (early 30s) and Eddie (late 30s)

Eddie has found his half-sister/lover in a motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert and intends to take her back to their trailer home. This is the opening scene of the play, and the fact that May and Eddie are related hasn’t been revealed yet. Start, Eddie: “May, look. May? I’m not goin’ anywhere. See?” End, May: “You can take it, right? You’re a stuntman.”


by Terrence McNally (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Frankie (40) and Johnny (40)

Frankie and Johnny, co-workers in a greasy-spoon restaurant, have just made love for the first time. Although this two-act, two-character play has potential male/female excerpts throughout, the scenes in Act I are more appropriate for scene-study purposes simply because they involve fewer props. One option is to begin as Frankie enters from the bathroom, having changed into a brightly colored kimono (pp. 14-21). During this scene, she good-naturedly tries to edge Johnny out the door, but he angles to stay all night. You’ll need the makings of a meatloaf sandwich. Start, Frankie: “Hello.” End, Johnny: “There you go.”

In the next scene, Johnny bandages Frankie’s finger (pp. 21-27). They’re getting to know each other a little better, and they’ve started exchanging private information. But Frankie still wants Johnny to leave, and he is still scheming to stay. Start, Johnny: “There you go.” End, Johnny: “It was a crime of passion. They were the last of the red hot lovers. We’re the next.”

Another good scene to work on involves a revelation (pp. 27-33). Here, Johnny tells Frankie that he loves her, and she responds by trying to reject him. Start, Frankie: “You’re not from Brooklyn.” End, Frankie: “Did anyone ever tell you you talk too much?”


by Jonathan Reynolds (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, pp. 53-55, Jocko (33) and Skye (early 20s)

Skye, a former Playmate of the Year, has decided that Jocko’s hostility toward her is actually veiled lust and agrees to go to bed with him even though he hasn’t asked her. Jocko appreciates the gesture but declines on the grounds that she has the runs. Start, Skye: “You win. Let’s go.” End, Jocko: “Good night and so forth.”


by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 31-36, Evy (43) and Lou (33)

Evy dried out for ten weeks in a Long Island sanitarium and has been back in her apartment for just a few moments when Lou Tanner, her former lover, shows up and asks if he can move back in. Although he still pushes her buttons, Evy can’t stand the thought of returning to a relationship in which she is the caretaker of this younger, rootless, needy man who is inclined to chase other women and beat her up occasionally. Evy’s better judgment rules the day, she refuses his appeal, and Lou beats a petulant retreat. Cut and paste around Polly’s slight interruption at the top of the scene. Start, Lou: “Hello, Evy.” Stop with Lou’s exit. End, Lou: “Probably not.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 44-49, Evy (43) and Jimmy (40)

Jimmy, Evy’s flamboyant actor/friend, is morose, having just been fired from a play. Evy consoles him and pours champagne. He is horrified to see her drinking since she only recently returned home from drying out. You’ll have to cut and paste a bit. Omit Jimmy’s line, “Ten thousand kids a month getting drafted and they leave this one behind to produce my show.” Start, Evy: “No kiss?…No hello?” End, Jimmy: “Some mood I’m in for a party. Christ!”


by Alfred Hayes (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 27-31, Lisa (early 20s) and Robert (early 20s)

Facing dire economic prospects in war-ravaged 1944 Rome, Lisa has agreed to be “kept” by Robert, an American occupation soldier. This kind of arrangement was quite common at the time, but Lisa feels cheapened by it nonetheless. In this scene, Robert and Lisa are alone in their bedroom for the first time. She explodes with indignation, telling him how awful Americans are, to which he responds by reminding her that her country has lost the war. She slaps him, and he slaps her back. After they calm down, Robert apologizes, and they settle into bed, presumably to consummate their union. Lisa is Italian, so a slight accent is appropriate. Start, Robert: “It’s cold. There’s a big villa at Anzio. In the pine wood.” Continue to the end of Act I. End, Robert: “It came all the way from America.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 26-42, Lisa (early 20s) and Robert (early 20s)

It is the day after the “honeymoon” night, and Lisa is disgusted with herself; she is ashamed that she has sold herself so cheaply. Robert enjoyed the sex, but is still lonely because he knows that Lisa didn’t really want to sleep with him. In this scene, they’re still trying to establish the terms of their relationship, but their conversation is colored now by their forced intimacy. Start, Robert: “I bought a clock so Adele won’t have to knock on the door in the morning. See? That looks almost matrimonial, doesn’t it—the clock and the bed?” End, Robert: “All right. I’ll go smoke a cigarette.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 51-56, Lisa (early 20s) and Robert (early 20s)

This classic love/hate scene takes place on New Year’s Eve, a night for lovers and celebration. It is clear by this point in the play that, under different circumstances, Lisa and Robert might have made a good couple, but that it is never to be. Here, they talk about how they got together in the first place and what the future holds. Start, Robert: “Would you like some cognac? Ugo thinks I was overcharged for it.” End, Robert: “I ought to kiss somebody a Happy New Year’s.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 77-81, Lisa (early 20s) and Robert (early 20s)

Unable to produce marriage documents, Lisa has been officially designated a prostitute by the Italian government and issued a yellow identification card so that she can work the streets. Robert feels bad about his part in bringing about her dilemma, but there is nothing he can do about it now. In what is probably the most powerful scene between them, Lisa and Robert act out the fantasy of what their lives would be like if they’d met under different circumstances and were free to be in love. He tears up Lisa’s identification card. Start, Robert: “Lisa—If there was anything I could have done, I’d have done it.” End, Robert: “Then kiss him. He just came home from a tough day in the office. Kiss him.”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 28-32, Amanda (40s) and Tom (21)

Amanda tries to enlist Tom’s help in finding a gentleman caller for his sister, Laura. This scene highlights the conflict between mother and son. Tom is late for work, but Amanda wants to talk. Start, Tom: “I’m sorry mother. I’m sorry for all those things I said. I didn’t mean it. I apologize.” Stop with Tom’s exit. End, Tom: “Yes!”

Drama: Act II, Scene 7, pp. 54-64, Laura (23) and Jim (23)

At his mother’s insistence, Tom invited his co-worker Jim home for dinner. Unbeknownst to Tom, however, Amanda has made elaborate preparations for the event, seeing this as an opportunity to fix up her shy daughter, Laura, with a gentleman caller. When Jim arrives, Laura is embarrassed to recognize him as the high-school hero she long ago had a secret crush on.

After dinner, Laura and Jim are finally alone in the parlor and, for a while, it is a very sweet meeting as the two of them replay the good old days and wax ecstatic about what a swell and talented fellow Jim was. Soon, however, he figures out that Laura is looking for a potential mate and awkwardly explains that he is engaged. Laura is mortified, but she covers her discomfort in ladylike fashion. This scene runs about fifteen to twenty minutes and is difficult to cut down. Start, Jim: “How are you feeling now? Any better?” End, Laura: “A—souvenir.”


by Edward Albee (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Scene 2, pp. 26-33, Martin (50) and Stevie (40-50)

Stevie learned moments ago that her husband, Martin, is having an affair with a goat. In this scene, she demands that he tell her all about it. And he does. Start after Billy’s exit on page 26. Stevie: “…Well; now; just you and me.” End, just before Billy reenters on page 33. Stevie: “Jesus!”


by Clifford Odets (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 27-31, Lorna Moon (20-25) and Joe Bonaparte (22)

Joe Bonaparte is an exciting young boxer with a great deal of potential, but he is pulling his punches in the ring, trying to protect hands that also play the violin. His fight manager and promoters are stymied as well as frustrated because they can’t get Joe to give 100 percent. Lorna Moon, the promoter’s sexy, streetwise girlfriend, volunteers to help. She intends to use her feminine wiles to convince Joe to fight. Start, Lorna: “Success and fame! Or just a lousy living.” End, Joe: “I know.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 44-48, Lorna (20-25) and Joe (22)

Joe has fallen in love with Lorna and tries to convince her to leave Tom Moody. Although she has fallen in love with Joe, her allegiance is to Moody because he got her out of the gutter. Start, Joe: “Some nights I wake up—my heart’s beating a mile a minute!” End, Joe: “Poor Lorna!”


by Michael Vincente Gazzo (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 20-26, Celia (early 20s) and Johnny (27)

Unaware that her husband has become a drug addict and fearful that he is having an affair on the nights when he isn’t at home, Celia presses Johnny for an explanation about his increasingly withdrawn and erratic behavior. The truth is that he is roaming the streets at night trying to get a fix. Start, Celia: “There’s no hot water, is there?” End, Celia: “The rain’s stopped. I think I’d better open the windows. Everything’s so damp in here.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 30-36, Celia (early 20s) and Polo (mid-20s)

Johnny’s brother, Polo, is drunk and unable to sleep. He stumbles into the kitchen to get some water. Celia is also restless because her husband is out on the street somewhere. She hears the noise in the kitchen and joins Polo. They talk about their mutual attraction for each other, and she tells him that he had better move out of the apartment before they get into trouble. Start, Celia: “Don’t do that, Polo! You’ll give yourself a stomach cramp.” End, Polo: “I’m not Johnny, I’m Polo.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 57-61, Celia (early 20s) and Johnny (27)

Johnny can’t bring himself to confess his drug addiction to his wife, Celia. Instead, he tries to revive their relationship by surprising her with flowers and a clean apartment when she gets home from work. Celia, however, is convinced that their relationship is damaged beyond repair and that Johnny must be having an affair. She wants to separate from him even though she is pregnant. Start, Celia: “Polo.” End, Celia: “No, Johnny, I’m gonna get an apron.”


by Henrik Ibsen (adapted by Jon Robin Baiz, Grove Press)

Drama: Act II, pp. 33-38, Judge Brack (40-50) and Hedda (25-35)

Judge Brack is a confirmed bachelor, part of a rather wild social scene. He and Hedda engage in some cat-and-mouse verbal exchanges about the kind of relationship he wants to have with her now that she is married to the very boring and academic George Tesman. The negotiation is sexual, but not overt. Start at the top of Act II if you can find a prop pistol for Hedda. Otherwise, begin the scene just after the bit with the gun. End, Hedda: “Yes. That would be a huge relief.”


by Wendy Wasserstein (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 13-18 (1968); Heidi (age changes from 16 to 40) and Scoop (from 16 to 40)

Heidi, a nineteen-year-old volunteer for the Eugene McCarthy presidential campaign, meets Scoop Rosenbaum at a dance in New Hampshire. The Princeton dropout and underground newspaper publisher is about the same age. When Scoop puts some intense, highly philosophical moves on her and challenges her intellectual independence, sparks fly. Heidi and Scoop leave the dance to go have sex. Actors play a wide age range, from sixteen to forty, because the play spans twenty-four years. Start, Scoop: “Are you guarding the chips?” End, Scoop: “No. I trust them.”

Comedy: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 35-40 (1977); Heidi (27ish) and Scoop (27ish)

After being involved with Heidi sexually and otherwise off and on for ten years, Scoop is settling down and marrying Lisa. This scene takes place at their wedding reception, where Heidi and Scoop find a moment alone, and he confides that despite the fact that they’ll never marry, he’ll always love her. Heidi suffers a great deal from the loss, but she knows that their lives are taking different paths. You’ll need someone offstage to announce a song and play it on a tape recorder. Start, Heidi: “Did she just say ‘shake your booties,’ doctor?” Continue through the end of the act. As the lights fade, Heidi and Scoop are romantically dancing to a Sam Cooke recording of “You Send Me.” End, Scoop: “Honest you do. Honest you do.

Comedy: Act II, Scene 5, pp. 63-68 (1987); Heidi (late 30s) and Peter (late 30s)

Peter is “the best pediatrician under forty” in New York City and is running a hospital clinic for children. Heidi, his lifelong friend, pays a midnight visit to drop off a box of Christmas gifts for the young patients before leaving for Minnesota to write and teach. Peter behaves strangely, acting cold and aloof. Finally, he admits that his former lover has AIDS. Peter and Heidi talk about the value of friendship and the point of work. She then decides to stay in New York. Start, Heidi: “He seems very nice.” End, Heidi: “Merry Christmas, Peter.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 6, pp. 68-75 (1989); Heidi (40) and Scoop (40)

The final scene in the play provides a summing up. Scoop sold his magazine for millions two hours ago and has dropped by Heidi’s new apartment with a gift for the baby she has adopted. They discuss where they’ve been in their lives, where they are going, and shifting values. You’ll need a baby carriage, preferably, or a bassinet. Start, Scoop: “Hello. Hello.” End, Heidi: “Honest you do, honest you do, honest you do.


by Athol Fugard (Samuel French)

Drama: Johnny (late 20s) and Hester (late 30s)

This two-character, two-act drama between a brother and a sister contains many possible scenes that expose interesting character points and contain tension. Both characters are Afrikaner, so accents would be appropriate. You’ll find a good scene in Act I (pp. 18-25). Here, Johnny picks up a packet of unopened mail to look for a letter from his sister, Hester. After a moment, she reenters. It becomes clear that Johnny has given up his dreams of a career and is tending to their father, who is evidently dying in the next room. Start, Hester: “What you up to?” End, Johnny: “None of you know me and you went for good. What is it this time? Why have you come back?”

Another potential scene immediately follows (pp. 25-33). In this excerpt, Johnny learns that Hester is a prostitute and that she has come home to collect her share of their father’s insurance money. Start, Hester: “Must I have a reason to visit my own home?” End, Hester: “I’ve got a funny feeling.” An excerpt in the second act doesn’t contain as much hysterical and dramatic revelation as those in the last part of the play, but it is arguably better for scenework because Hester is opening boxes that contain remnants of her childhood and her family history (pp. 34-45). The revelations are more subtle and personal. If you decide to work on this scene, keep in mind that you’ll have to accumulate all of those remnants: newspapers, photographs, old dresses, shoes, and plenty of boxes and twine. Start, Hester: “Frickie—Frickie who—Must have been a relative!—Who’s she?” End, Johnny: “Dear God, please let Hester find the money!…Any luck?”

In a later excerpt from Act II, Johnny learns that Hester has had abortions, a fact that wounds his religious sensibility even more than learning that she is a prostitute (pp. 45-52). And Hester learns that Johnny applied to railroad school, was accepted, and just didn’t go. Start, Johnny: “All those in favor of sleep hold up their hands!” End, Hester: “I couldn’t stop hating and it hurts, it hurts.”


by William Saroyan (Samuel French)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 5-28; Young Man (25-30) and The Girl (17)

A drifter wakes up in jail after being falsely accused of rape. He then begins a relationship with the unsophisticated teenager who cooks and cleans there. Although doing the entire scene is best, you can shorten it slightly for scene purposes by eliminating all the young woman’s offstage dialogue and beginning with her entrance. Start, Young Man: “I’m lonesome. I’m as lonesome as a coyote. Hello—out there!” End, Young Man: “Now hurry. And don’t forget, if I’m not here when you come back, I’ll meet you in San Francisco.”


by Dorothy Parker (24 Favorite One Act Plays, edited by Bennett Cerf and Van H. Cartmell, Doubleday/Main Street)

Comedy: He (early 20s) and She (18-23)

This 1931 one-act comedy is only ten pages long. Young newlyweds are on the train en route to their New York City honeymoon. He is eager to consummate the union, while she is just a little nervous about the prospect. They banter, argue, hedge, and hug, talking about everything except what is really on their minds. A cute and fun scene. Were people ever really this innocent? Start, He: “Well!” End, She: “Yes, here we are, aren’t we?”


by Ted Tally (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 58-61, Ronda (22) and Ricky (19)

Ronda and Ricky’s friends have returned to the motel to have sex, leaving them alone on the beach. At first, they were very hostile to one another because Ronda didn’t want to party in the first place, and Ricky is jealous that his buddy is scoring with Ronda’s prettier friend. But as Ricky and Ronda talk, mutual respect evolves. Start, Ronda: “See that buoy out there?” End, Ricky: “Whatever that is in Spanish.”


by John Guare (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 9-15, Artie (45) and Bunny (late 30s)

Bunny excitedly bursts into Artie’s apartment at 4:45 A.M., rousing him to go see the Pope pass by in a parade. Artie is depressed because his songs bombed during amateur night at the El Dorado Bar & Grill last night. Both actors need to have a good feel for New York regional speech patterns. Start, Bunny: “You know what your trouble is? You got no sense of history.” End, Bunny: “And I’m sorry last night went sour.”


by José Rivera (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 57-61, Javier (22) and Caroline (28)

Now that Javier is a college graduate and is about to pursue the American Dream, he intends to leave his Puerto Rican background behind him—and this includes his old girlfriend, Caroline. In this scene, he tells her about his decision, hurting her deeply. Start, Caroline: “Hi.” End, Javier: “Here I come Dad—again!”


by Paula Vogel (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: pp. 49-54, Uncle Peck (45) and Li’l Bit (playing 18, but can be older)

You’ll have to cut and paste just a bit to make this scene work for class, but it’s worth the trouble. The scene takes place in an upscale hotel room and is basically a thwarted scene of seduction. Here’s the cut to make: throughout the play, the playwright uses the theatrical device of a Greek chorus, and the chorus makes an appearance toward the end of this scene. You need to eliminate the chorus and Li’l Bit’s two or three lines that fit into the chorus. The part that should be cut begins toward the top of page 53 in the Dramatists Play Service acting edition, and ends at the top of page 54. In other words, you want this scene to be exclusively between Uncle Peck and Li’l Bit, with no chorus. Start, Peck: “Why don’t you sit?” End, Peck: “I’m fine. I just think—I need a real drink.”


by David Rabe (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 104-111, Bonnie (late 30s) and Eddie (mid-30s)

Eddie fixed Bonnie up with Phil, who just signed his divorce papers today, thinking that the two of them would happily go have sex. Once out in the car, however, Phil exploded and shoved Bonnie out of the moving vehicle. Furious and bruised, Bonnie storms back to tell off Eddie for putting her in such jeopardy. Eddie, already drunk, is unfazed by her dilemma. This is a full-throttle, brakes-off scene for Bonnie. Start, Bonnie: “You know, Eddie, how come you gotta put me at the mercy of such a creep for?” End, Eddie: “For myself.”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, pp. 128-137, Darlene (30s) and Eddie (mid-30s)

Darlene tells Eddie about an abortion she had seven years ago, and how she didn’t know which of two men had gotten her pregnant. Eddie, who is already upset, is further depressed by this news and is soon talking about how his sadistic minister father beat him as a child. At the end of the scene, Eddie receives word that his best friend, Phil, has been killed in a car crash on Mulholland Drive. Start, Eddie: “Let’s just hang around a little in case he calls.” End, Eddie: “What?”


by Patrick Tovatt (Samuel French)

Drama: Scene 2, pp. 21-29, Harry (37) and Dee (55)

Dee gets a little drunk and tells her son, Harry, how rough it has been to keep the family farm going. She hints that he should take it over. Start, Harry: “Hey, what are you doin’ up at this hour?” End, Harry: “I’ll go down there, Ma, and you go up…and sleep well…I love you, Ma…even when I don’t know what the dickens to do.”

Drama: Scene 2, pp. 46-52, Harry (37) and Bev (34)

Bev argues with her husband, Harry, about the wisdom of taking over his parents’ farm. She wants to get back to New York City immediately because she just found out that their daughter, Sadie, has gotten sick. Start, Bev: “Why didn’t you get me up?” End, Bev: “If you can’t understand why I have to go…I’ll go without you. I’m going up.”


by John Van Druten (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 40-42, Sally (20s) and Christopher (20s)

Sally is recovering from the abortion she had. Christopher is bemoaning his aimless summer, and the fact that he isn’t writing enough. They take stock of their poverty, sort out their lives, and declare their friendship. Start, Christopher: “This awful, obscene laziness! I ought to be flogged.” End, Sally: “So do I.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 58-63, Sally (20s) and Christopher (20s)

Sally has just received a note from her rich American friend, Clive, saying that the world cruise he promised is off. On an impulse, he has departed for America. Since Sally and Christopher are already packed to leave on the cruise, they greet the news with shock and disappointment. After they calm down, they decide to turn over a new leaf, get jobs, and lead responsible lives for a change. Then, just as abruptly, Sally changes her mind, deciding to throw herself back into the party scene. You’ll have to cut and paste, eliminating Fraulein Schneider’s lines. Start, Christopher: “Really, Sally, that was a little cruel. Fritz really is in trouble.” Then, cut from Sally’s line: “We could ask Fraulein Schneider to phone” to Christopher’s line: “You know he’s gone, don’t you?” Next, cut from Sally’s line: “I don’t think we’re much good as gold-diggers, are we, darling?” to Christopher’s line: “Do you want to come out and have some lunch?” Continue to the end of Act II. End, Sally: “Can’t you laugh now? Come on.”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, pp. 64-69, Sally (20s) and Christopher (20s)

Sally is hungover and has been “away” for the past couple of days. She and Christopher exchange some low-key pleasantries and, when he asks how she likes the article he has written, she dismisses it as dull. In fact, Sally explains, she has asked someone else to write the article. His artistic pride wounded, Christopher rages at her. She rages back and then storms out, promising to move out altogether. As he mutters to himself about how awful she is, Sally bursts in again to say that her mother is in town unexpectedly and is coming up the stairs! She asks Christopher to masquerade as her fiancé because that is what her mother thinks he is to Sally. Before Christopher can protest, Sally’s mother enters. This is a good scene on account of its unexpected emotional twists and turns. Start, Christopher: “I haven’t seen you for a day and a half.” End, Sally: “Don’t believe everything I said at first. She isn’t easy. Please, darling. Please!”


by Paul Rudnick (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 54-57, Lillian Troy (70s) and John Barrymore (45-50)

This is a magical scene in which Lillian Troy, now in her 70s, reminisces with her old sweetheart, John Barrymore, who is actually a ghost. He would be in his 70s, too, but he stopped aging when he died twenty years ago. At any rate, Lillian is older than John, and they dance and laugh and talk about how lovely it was back then. Start, Lillian: “You. You look terrible.” End, Lillian: “Surprise me.”


by Mark Harelik (Broadway Play Publishing)

Drama: Act I, Scene 9, Leah (20s) and Haskell (20s)

Leah is distressed because she and Haskell have settled in Texas, far from their Russian Jewish roots, and because there are no other Jews anywhere nearby. She is also upset that they don’t eat kosher or pray at sundown. He thinks that this is all part of becoming American and says that he has no intentions of abandoning his Jewish faith. Then Leah tells Haskell that she is pregnant. At the top of the scene, Leah speaks Russian; at the end, Haskell sings a verse from a Yiddish song. Leah: “Ach, mei Gott, siz ah meshugenneh velt.” End, Haskell (singing): “Fraylich lustik iz gevain ihr meene Ot axoy grevain is mein kusine.


by John Pielmeier (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: “An Intellectual Discussion (or The Poor Man’s Samuel Beckett),” pp. 71-73, He (20-35) and She (20-35)

In this sketch, which takes place at a kitchen table, the dialogue is in the spirit of the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” routine, full of double negatives and confusing context. The scene ends with a modified food fight. Start, He: “You’re wrong.” End, She: “Forget it.”

Comedy: “Goober’s Descent,” pp. 87-93, He (30-45) and She (25-40)

He is a business executive looking for a new position, and She is interviewing him. In this reverse sexual-harassment scene, the woman gets the man stripped down to his underpants and then reminds him that she worked briefly as his secretary years ago. She was the one who wouldn’t have sex with him and who quit when he started coming on to her. Revenge is sweet. Start, He: “Hi there.” End, She: “Zilla, you can start sending in the next year.”


by Robert Anderson (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 51-54, Gene (40) and Alice (early 40s)

Alice traveled from Chicago to Long Island to help her brother, Gene, with family arrangements after their mother’s death. The most pressing issue is what to do with their father, who is now almost eighty and increasingly frail. Gene and Alice have just had a very tense discussion with him, in which he became furious at Alice’s suggestion that he hire a live-in housekeeper. Ideally, the father wants Gene to remain close at hand, but Gene wants to move to California to remarry. Overcome with guilt, Gene suddenly tells his father that he’ll stay, at least for a while. When the older man stalks off, Alice yells at Gene for not standing his ground, for giving in to his father, for not being a man. Start, Gene: “For God’s sake, Alice.” End, Alice: “Suddenly I miss Mother so.”


by David Rabe (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 73-77, Chrissy (early 20s) and Harold (50s)

Chrissy talks to Harold, her alcoholic father, about the abuse she suffered as a child. She asks him why he once put vodka in her baby bottle, causing her to be hospitalized, as well as why he is still with Helen, her mother, who has shown in many ways that she wishes her daughter were dead. Harold is remorseful about what happened years ago but makes excuses; he says he was just kidding around at the time. An excellent, low-key scene. Start, Chrissy: “Hi, Pop.” End, Harold: “Here comes your mother. She’s been shopping at the store.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 82-87, Chrissy (early 20s) and Eric (mid-20s)

Eric loves Chrissy. She wants his help with her astrology chart while he wants to talk about how much he loves her and how wonderful their life could be together. Chrissy gets progressively frustrated with him. Start, Eric: “Come in!” End, Eric: “Don’t worry. Just call. Just call.”


by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 14-24, Libby (19) and Herb (45)

Herb wakes up one morning in Hollywood to discover that his daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a small child, is sitting in his living room. If you have access to a telephone that rings, begin the scene when Libby answers the phone. If not, begin with Herb’s entrance. Start, Herb: “I didn’t hear you get up.” End, Libby: “Hello.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 50-57, Steffy (39) and Herb (45)

Steffy tells Herb that, after a two-year relationship, it is time for him to make a deeper commitment to her. His response is typical of many men. Start, Steffy: “It’s okay. I know how you feel.” End, Herb: “You’re just dumb when it comes to picking men.”


by Renée Taylor and Joseph Bologna (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 26-36, Theda (28-35) and Vito (40)

Theda and Vito came back to her place, spent the night, and this morning Vito is beginning to grasp just how eccentric this woman is. He has discovered that she eats health food and has been writing a perfectly awful play for herself for the past three years. Just a minute ago, Theda hid his clothes all over her small apartment, including in the freezer. Vito tries to make a graceful exit, chalking this one up to experience. However, the door seems to be locked, so he can’t get out. Furthermore, it is snowing hard, and he may have to stay longer. Start, Vito: “The door seems to be stuck. Would you please open it?” End, Theda: “I know it doesn’t look good for my love story but I had one thing going in my favor. He was still here!” This excerpt includes a great deal of physical comedy. For a longer version start, Vito: “Uh…look, I’ve got to be going, I’m all disoriented.” Continue to the same end.

Comedy: Act II, pp. 37-43, Theda (28-35) and Vito (40)

Vito tries to help Theda write her one-woman play, wanting to add rubber-chicken jokes and such to her very Russian plotline. It doesn’t work. Begin at the top of Act II as Theda reads her play-in-progress aloud. Start, Theda: “In the name of Mother Russia, stop the torturing.” End, Theda: “Well they should have! Now I want another idea for my play! And this time I want a good one!”


by Catherine Butterfield (Dramatists Play Service) (Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 1992, Smith & Kraus)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Dramatists Play Service pp. 53-57, Maggie (late 30s) and Jim (late 30s)

Maggie and her former high-school lover, Jim, spend an evening together at his place while his wife undergoes chemotherapy at the hospital. After dinner, he plays snippets from a couple of songs on the piano. This leads to a discussion about who-left-whom at the high-school prom twenty years ago, which, in turn, leads to talk about whether or not Maggie is being honest in her best-selling book about a father/daughter relationship. Jim’s piano playing is a very important part of the scene. If you don’t have access to a piano, you probably shouldn’t attempt the scene. Start, Maggie (to audience): “I went to dinner at Jim’s that night. I’ll make this quick, then we’ll move on to other things.” End, Maggie: “You didn’t screw it up, Jim. You did just fine.”


by Kevin Wade (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Scene 4, pp. 19-23, Lisa (late 20s) and Philip (about 30)

Lisa wants to deepen the level of commitment in her relationship with Philip, which is signified by the exchanging of apartment keys. Philip, however, doesn’t want to be fenced in. A good short scene. Start, Philip: “So great. So we get keys made for each other’s apartments.” End, Lisa: “Please. Go.”

Comedy: Scene 6, pp. 26-31, Lisa (late 20s) and Philip (about 30)

When Lisa invites Philip to meet her father, he hedges because he doesn’t want to be pushed too fast in their relationship. She gets angry, and the confrontation ends with the couple breaking up. Begin at the top of Scene 6. Cut Michael’s appearance in the scene. Start, Philip: “Yes.” End, Lisa: “No. You’re getting what you want. I won’t push you anymore. You win. I don’t want to play anymore.”


by John Guare (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 9-16, Capt. Holohan (40-45) and Betty (36)

Captain Holohan interrogates Betty at the police station. He is convinced that she murdered her fourteen-year-old-son, but the truth is that she didn’t. Omit Raulito and Rosalie’s brief interruptions. Start, Betty: “I don’t see how you can ask me these questions.” End, Betty: “I can look you right in the eye. I didn’t throw up. I won.”

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 23-27, Betty (36) and Raulito (35-45)

Betty takes over her deceased sister’s old job at Dawn’s Promising Star Travel Agency in New York City. Raulito, the owner/operator, is a flamboyant Cuban refugee whose modus operandi is scamming newlyweds into buying honeymoon vacations. In this scene, after he shows Betty the ropes and describes his colorful background, she gives scamming a try. The scene calls for a cassette recording of audience cheers and applause, but this isn’t absolutely essential. Start, Raulito: “You take the Daily News. You take the Sunday Times.” End, Betty: “I’m me. I can’t do the job. I don’t want the job.”


by Václav Havel (translated by Tom Stoppard, Grove Weidenfeld)

Comedy-Drama: Scene 6, Marguerite (early 20s) and Leopold (45-50)

Marguerite, a university philosophy student, comes to Leopold’s flat, declares her intellectual indebtedness to him and, when she recognizes his despair, decides to rescue him with affection. Start, Marguerite: “Good evening.” End, Marguerite: “…and now, I’ll awaken love in you!”


by Jean Anouilh (adapted by Lillian Hellman, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 15-18, Joan of Arc (18) and Sire de Beaudricourt (40-50)

After listening to the “voices” of God for three years, Joan of Arc accepts her calling and prepares to raise an army and march on Orléans to repel the British. As a first step, she has come to the manor of the Sire de Beaudricourt to ask for an armed escort and a horse. Initially, he toys with the idea of a sexual trade with the young woman, but because she appeals to his intelligence, he gives her what she wants. Start, Sire de Beaudricourt: “What’s the matter with you, young woman? You’ve been carrying on like a bad girl. I’ve heard about you standing outside the doors ragging at the sentries until they fall asleep.” End, Joan: “Good. Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s pretend that you’ve given me the clothes of a boy and we’re sitting here like two comrades talking good sense.”


by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, pp. 41-51, Barney (47) and Bobbi (27)

Barney entices Bobbi, a pretty singer/actress, up to his mother’s apartment for a tryst. Bobbi turns out to be a dingbat, and Barney winds up smoking his first marijuana cigarette. This scene fills the entire twenty pages of Act II. For scene-study purposes, begin halfway through the act. Start, Bobbi: “Are you married?” Continue to the end of the act. End, Bobbie: “…That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…”

Comedy: Act III, pp. 54-63, Barney (47) and Jeanette (39)

Jeanette is a longtime friend of Barney and his wife. He brings her to his mother’s apartment for a tryst. She turns out to be quite depressed and pops tranquilizers. Start, Jeanette: “Why am I here, Barney?” End, Jeanette: “You actually found three people who you consider gentle, loving and decent. I congratulate you.”


by Christopher Hampton (based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s novel of the same name, Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 16-22, Madame Merteuil (25-35) and Valmont (28-35)

Madame Merteuil’s lover, Gercourt, has jilted her and is now planning to marry Cécile, the young virgin. Bent on revenge, Madame Merteuil tries to convince her sometime-lover Valmont to seduce the young woman before her wedding night, just to teach Gercourt a lesson. Valmont refuses because he doesn’t see much sport in seducing a fifteen-year-old. Furthermore, he is in pursuit of a much bigger prize, the very married, very religious, and very straight-laced Madame de Tourvel. Madame Merteuil is skeptical of Valmont’s ability to bed Madame de Tourvel, so she challenges him to a bet with a sexual payoff if he can deliver proof of his seduction. Start, Merteuil: “Your aunt?” End, Merteuil: “Good night, Vicomte.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 28-32, Madame de Tourvel (22) and Valmont (28-35)

Valmont is determined to seduce Madame de Tourvel because she is such an unwilling victim. Start, de Tourvel: “I can’t understand how someone whose instincts are so generous could lead such a dissolute life.” End, Valmont: “I only want to say what I hardly thought it would be possible for me to say to you: Goodbye…I’ll write soon.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 51-55, Madame de Tourvel (22) and Valmont (28-35)

Although Madame de Tourvel has strongly rebuffed Valmont, her heart is beating with desire. In this short scene, he raises the stakes and increases the tempo of his pursuit. Begin as de Tourvel reenters after her walk in the garden. Start, Valmont: “I trust you’re feeling a little better, Madame.” Continue to the end of the scene. End, Valmont: “Nothing.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 83-86, Madame de Tourvel (22) and Valmont (28-35)

Valmont succeeds in his seduction of Madame de Tourvel. She has literally been driven to the edge of emotional collapse with sexual desire and internal conflict. The only blemish on Valmont’s otherwise perfect seduction is that he has made the mortal error of actually falling in love with the woman. This short, intense scene ends with de Tourvel succumbing to his passion. Start, Valmont: “I understand Father Anselme has explained to you the reasons for my visit.” End, de Tourvel: “Yes. You’re right. I can’t live either unless I make you happy. So I promise. No more refusals and no more regrets.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 86-91, Madame Merteuil (25-35) and Valmont (28-35)

Unbeknownst to Valmont, Madame Merteuil has taken young Danceny as her lover. Her passion for this dalliance, however, has been dulled by her discovery that Valmont has fallen in love with Madame de Tourvel and impregnated fifteen-year-old Cécile. These games of cruel seduction aren’t supposed to involve true emotion or weaknesses. In this scene, Madame Merteuil and Valmont take stock of their feelings for each other. Start, Valmont: “Success.” End, Merteuil: “Goodbye.”


by Sam Shepard (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 54-60, Beth (early-to-mid-20s) and Frankie (late 20s)

In order to find out if Jake has murdered his wife Beth, Frankie has traveled to her parents’ place in Billings, Montana. Beth’s father mistook Frankie for a deer and shot him in the leg. Now he is recuperating right alongside Beth, who suffered brain damage from Jake’s violent beating. Here, Beth tends to Frankie’s wound by taking off her shirt and wrapping it around his leg. Then, because her brain still isn’t working right, she starts to fantasize about how it would be if Frankie were a gentler version of Jake. Beth comes on to Frankie, but he doesn’t want to get involved with his brother’s wife. Start, Frankie: “Un—look—Beth—Don’t you think you oughta put your shirt back on?” End, Beth: “Then why is this so empty? So empty now. Everything. Gone. A hole.”


by Keith Reddin (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 3, pp. 13-16, Franklin (mid-to-late 20s) and Effie (mid-to-late 20s)

Franklin and his wife, Effie, have an awkward reunion. This is the first time they’ve seen each other since he lost his arm in the Korean War. Start, Effie: “Hi, Franklin!” End, Effie: “Sure.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 19-21, Franklin (mid-to-late 20s) and Effie (mid-to-late 20s)

Franklin is deeply depressed about his injury and inability to land a job, and he is taking it out on Effie, who is doing the best she can to be a good wife. In this tense scene, Franklin seems to pick a fight with Effie for no reason at all. Start, Franklin: “Take your coat off.” End, Franklin: “No shit.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 6, pp. 45-48, Franklin (mid-to-late 20s) and Effie (mid-to-late 20s)

Effie was killed in a freak accident at the movie theater and, in this fantasy sequence, she returns from the dead to tell Franklin about the affair she had. He tells her how much he misses her. A lovely scene. Start, Franklin: “Effie, is that you?” End, Effie: “I miss you. I miss you and the movies.”


by James Goldman (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 16-20, Eleanor of Aquitaine (61) and Henry II (50)

Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine have become loving and comfortable adversaries. In this scene, they argue about which of their sons will be the heir to the English throne. Start, Eleanor: “Henry, I have a confession.” End, Eleanor: “Good. That will make this pleasanter.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 33-37, Eleanor of Aquitaine (61) and Henry II (50)

Henry and Eleanor strike a deal: her freedom in exchange for her endorsement of their youngest son John getting the Aquitaine. This would be a major capitulation for Eleanor because she is in favor of their oldest son, Richard Lionheart, ascending to the throne. Start, Henry: “Well, how’d you do with Richard? Did you break his heart?” End, Henry: “Where’s a priest? I’ll do it. I’ll show you. By Christ, I will.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 61-70, Eleanor of Aquitaine (61) and Henry II (50)

Henry tells his wife that he wants their marriage annulled. Eleanor refuses, threatening open war if he tries to have it done against her will. Their dispute takes a nasty, even more personal turn when she claims to have slept with Henry’s father. Shortening this scene without disrupting the flow and tension is difficult. Start, Eleanor: “I’m rather proud; I taught her all the rhetoric she knows.” End, Eleanor: “It’s cold. I can’t feel anything. Not anything at all. We couldn’t go back, could we, Henry?”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 70-73, Alais (23) and Henry III (50)

Henry tells his mistress, Alais, that they’re going to Rome to have his marriage annulled; he’ll then be able to marry her. Before Alais will accept Henry’s proposal, she wants him to promise to keep his sons got by Eleanor locked in a dungeon forever. Alais believes that if Henry’s plan succeeds and his sons were free, they would band together to wage war against him and, in time, probably kill him. This short scene has interesting dynamics and a great deal of subtext. Start, Henry: “Get up, wake up, it’s morning.” End, Henry: “I shall have to, shan’t I?”


by Lillian Hellman (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 41-44, Regina (40) and Horace (45)

Regina is more interested in her husband Horace’s money than in the fact that he is dying from a heart ailment. She lured Horace home from the hospital under the pretense that she has decided to be romantic. Regina and Horace haven’t had sex for ten years. But all she really wants to do is get $75,000 from him to seal a business arrangement with her unethical brothers. Start, Regina: “Well. Here we are. It’s been a long time.” End, Regina: “You will see what I’ve done while you’ve been away. How I watched your interests.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 62-66, Regina (40) and Horace (45)

Horace tells his wife that her brothers and nephew have conspired to steal $80,000 from him, that he considers her to be part of the same pack of dogs, and that he intends to punish her—and them—in his will. Regina responds by telling Horace how much she has always hated him. As their tempers and tensions rise, he suddenly suffers another major heart attack. Regina watches dispassionately as he dies, not even moving to get his medicine for him. Start, Regina: “We had agreed that you were to stay in your part of this house and I in mine.” End, Regina: “Horace. Horace. Addie! Cal! Come in here!”


by Kenneth Lonergan (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 16-19, Bill (30) and Dawn (early 20s)

Dawn, a rookie New York City cop, is nervous because she struck a rampaging drunk too hard with her nightstick, and he might be seriously hurt. Her seasoned partner, Bill, is playing the big shot and assures her he’ll see to it that nothing comes of the incident. There are a couple of interesting negotiations in this scene: First, Dawn and Bill are romantically involved, so there is an implied sexual element somewhere in the transaction; second, Dawn seriously admires Bill as a policeman and as a person, considering him to be her mentor in the police department. She does not realize at this point that he is an opportunistic liar who is right now preparing to go up to apartment 22J to sleep with the “actress” that lives there. Start, Bill: “Take it easy, will you? Just take it easy.” End, Dawn, “I’ll try.”

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 24-29, Jeff (27) and Dawn (early 20s)

Bill is up in apartment 22J making love to Mrs. Heinvald, the “actress” that lives there. Jeff and Dawn are talking in the lobby, during which Jeff finds Dawn very attractive. In the four pages leading up to this excerpt, Jeff has been telling Dawn all about himself and generally trying to get closer to her. Sensing that she has a thing for Bill, he tells her that Mrs. Heinvald in fact has a lot of “friends.” Dawn is shocked and dismayed to learn that Bill is double-timing her. Start, Jeff: “…So what’s he doin’ up there anyway? Investigatin’ a crime or somethin’?” End, Jeff: “You know what? You’re damned right.”

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 38-41, Bill (30) and Dawn (early 20s)

Note: You’ll need someone to enter the scene midway and deliver two lines, as the character Jeff. Bill returns to the lobby, unaware that Dawn knows he has been upstairs having sex with Mrs. Heinvald. She confronts him and he tries to lie his way out of it. Then Jeff comes in and says that Mrs. Heinvald called to say Bill left his hat in the apartment. The cat is now out of the bag, and so Bill changes tactics with Dawn. Very good scene because of the transitions. Start, Dawn: “You have a good time?” End, Bill: “…You’re never going to be anything. So go ahead. Take off.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 57-64, Jeff (27) and Dawn (early 20s)

The essential transaction in this excellent scene takes place when Jeff tells Dawn the truth. His boss, William, whose brother is in deep legal trouble, has provided a false alibi to the police. In order to get the most juice out of the scene, it is essential that actors carefully study the pages that precede it (pp. 48-55). The scene will be too long for classwork if you include all of those pages in a workshop presentation, but the subtext contained there is critical. Start, Jeff: “So listen: I have a hypothetical situation I want to ask you about.” End on page 64, as Bill enters. Dawn: “OK. Great.…”


by Eugene O’Neill (Yale University Press)

Drama: Act I, Mary (54) and Edmund (23)

Edmund tells his mother Mary that he is afraid she is lapsing back into morphine addiction. Although this accusation is true, Mary is angry and defensive about it. Edmund then agrees not to spy on her further. The scene begins late in Act I and continues to the end of the act. Start, Mary: “Here you are. I was just going upstairs to look for you.” End, Edmund: “…I’ll go down and help Jamie bear up. I love to lie in the shade and watch him work.”


by Ketti Frings (based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Wolfe, Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 32-37, Laura (23) and Eugene (17)

Eugene talks quietly on the porch with Laura, the new boarder. Even though they both realize that he is too young for her, there is an immediate and profound attraction between them. Eugene tells Laura about his dreams in this lovely scene. What he doesn’t know is that she is engaged. Omit Jack Clatt’s interruption. Start, Laura: “Good evening.” End, Laura: “Gene, if we keep rushing together like this, we’re going to have a collision.”

Drama, Act I, Scene 2, pp. 37-40, Eliza (57) and W. O. Gant (60)

After a drunken uproar, Gant, Eliza’s husband, is sleeping it off when she enters his bedroom. He lurches awake, mistakenly thinking that his daughter, Helen, has come to take care of him. Eliza, furious earlier, soothes him now and seems to be genuinely concerned about the old man’s well-being. The truth is that she wants to pressure him to sell the valuable property on which his business is located. You’ll need a bed for this scene. Start, Gant: “Helen?” End, Gant: “Have mercy and pity upon me. Give me another chance in Jesus’ name…Oh-h-h!”

Drama: Act III, pp. 76-78, Laura (23) and Eugene (17)

For reasons of her own, Laura hasn’t told Eugene that she is engaged to a man in another town; instead, she lets this new romance blossom. Now deeply in love, Eugene asks Laura to marry him in very brief, very tender, lovely scene. It is best to have a bed for this scene, but you can get away without using one. Start, Laura: “Gene? What was that?” End, Laura: “Eugene…I will love you always…Gene!”

Drama: Act III, pp. 83-85, Eliza (57) and Eugene (17)

Now that Laura is gone, Eugene knows that his dreams of romance with her were empty. Suddenly, he realizes he must leave this place and, in this dynamic climax, he and Eliza, his domineering mother, finally come to terms. Start, Eliza: “Gene. You know what I’d do if I were you? I’d just show her I was a good sport, that’s what!” End, Eugene: “Ah, you were not looking, were you? I’ve already gone.”


by William Inge (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 10-17, Kenny (21) and Helen (mid-40s)

Kenny discovers that he is being temporarily moved out of his bedroom to make space for houseguest Lila Green. He and Helen, his mother, argue about this and about his unwillingness to move out of the house altogether. Kenny is, after all, twenty-one years old. Start, Kenny: “All right. How long’s she gonna stay?” End, Helen: “All right, Kenny! All right.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 44-49, Kenny (21) and Lila (32)

Lila has been living with Kenny and his mother for a month and is comfortable with the situation. This afternoon, Kenny comes home from his job at the gas station to find Lila on the front steps. A mild flirtation turns lustful, and Lila reluctantly pushes Kenny away. Start, Lila: “Good evening, Mr. Kenny Baird.” End, Lila: “Yes you are. I can tell. Oh, sometimes I wish I’d never been born.”


by Jason Miller (Three One-Act Plays, by Jason Miller, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 43-50, Barbara (28) and Victor (32)

Barbara and Victor are a husband and wife on the verge of separating. This scene is tense, biting, and honest. Miller describes Barbara as “lean, tanned, large-breasted,” and you should make an effort to cast a physically appropriate actress. Barbara’s body is a point of reference when Victor makes comments to hurt her. Similarly, Miller describes Victor as “a sad little clown underneath a coarse and sometimes volatile temperament.” Find a suitable actor. Start, Barbara: “Barbara speaking!…No, Mr. Toomey, my husband is not here.” End, Victor: “Have a nice time.”

Drama: One-act play, pp. 51-57, Helen (mid-30s) and Victor (32)

Helen Martin comes to Victor’s home to talk about her shy son, a bench-warming player on the little-league team that Victor coaches. Because he just got fired from his coaching position, their meeting turns into an introspective and, ultimately, poignant event during which Victor gives Helen a present for her son; the gift, his prized possession, is a baseball personally autographed by Lou Gehrig. Start, Victor: “Who are…don’t tell me, I know. I have it. You are Mrs. Martin.” Continue to the end of the play. End, Victor: “One cream and two sugars.”


by Harold Pinter (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 20-26, Sarah (30-35) and Richard (30-40)

Sarah is having an affair with her “pretend” lover, who is actually her own husband, Richard. He decides to call off the whole arrangement because he is getting jealous of her relationship with this other self. But it is too late because they’re both addicted to the game. This scene, the last one in the play, is appropriate for advanced actors. Written in the British vernacular, but you can play it with standard American speech. Start, Richard: “Hello.” End, Richard: “You lovely whore.”


by Renée Taylor and Joseph Bologna (Samuel French)

Comedy: “Brenda and Jerry,” pp. 5-12, Brenda (20s) and Jerry (20s)

Jerry and Brenda met thirty minutes ago at Maxwell’s Plum, and Jerry manages to get her up to his apartment after they leave the restaurant. He tries to seduce her, she resists, and then she gives in. The scene is funnier than it sounds. Start, Jerry: “My apartment is right over here.” End, Brenda: “Oh, Jerry! Aren’t you glad we waited?”

Comedy: “Hal and Cathy,” pp. 12A-12F, Hal (48-52) and Cathy (30s)

Cathy wants Hal to divorce his wife of thirty-two years, but he keeps dragging his feet. She threatens to marry another man if he won’t come round. They resolve nothing by the end of the scene, and continue their affair as before. As written, this scene takes place in a small bathroom while a party is going on in another part of Hal’s house. If this setting isn’t practical for classwork, simply change the setting to a guest room. Start, Hal: “Cathy? Are you in there, Cathy?” End, Hal: “Then the responsibility rests not with me, not with you, Cathy, not with Bernice…but with Phil!”

Comedy: “Johnny and Wilma,” pp. 13-22, Johnny (40s) and Wilma (30s)

Wilma wants to make love tonight, but Johnny wants to go to sleep, so they fight, verbally and physically. They argue about male/female relationships, submissive versus dominant roles, and lovemaking frequency. Johnny finally confesses that he has had a bad day at work and has lost a big account, so he needs her to be submissive. Wilma complies. Wilma and Johnny move around a great deal here; they are in and out of bed, and in and out of the bathroom. Start, Wilma: “Are you going to make love to me, or not?” End, Wilma: “Are you going to let me surrender to you, or not?”


by Murray Schisgal (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 32-38, Harry (late 30s) and Ellen (mid-30s)

Harry has been swept up in Ellen’s hysteria and pain as she talks about her failed marriage to Milt. She pulls out the knife she was going to use to kill Milt and, in an emotional fit, almost kills Harry. Begin the scene as Ellen and Harry regain their composure. Start, Ellen: “I’ve been a great deal of trouble to you.” End, Ellen: “I love you! I love you!”

Comedy: Act II, pp. 42-48, Milt (late 30s) and Ellen (mid-30s)

Milt’s recent marriage to Linda hasn’t been working out. In fact, Linda has maintained a dirty house, let her underarm hair grow, and quit her job. Even worse, she left Milt three days ago; now he is in despair, longing to reconcile with Ellen, his former wife. As it happens, Ellen’s recent marriage to Harry Berlin has also been rocky; he has taken to lying in a corner of the living room with a paper bag over his head, moaning. As Act II evolves, Milt and Ellen finally do get back together, but this six-page excerpt ends before that happens. Start, Milt: “El? Ellen? Is that you?” End, Ellen: “The door is closed, Milt.”


by Thornton Wilder (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 24-29, Mrs. Dolly Levi (40-50) and Horace Vandergelder (60)

Dolly Levi intends to marry Horace Vandergelder, but he doesn’t know it yet. In this fun and innocent scene, she double-talks him into believing that she is going to fix him up with a seventeen-year-old who has secretly fallen in love with him. Later on, he’ll get even more confused and wind up marrying Dolly! Start, Mrs. Levi: “Oh, Mr. Vandergelder, how handsome you look! You take my breath away!” End, Mrs. Levi: “…very well; I’ll meet you on one of those benches in front of Mrs. Molloy’s hat store at four thirty, as usual.” For a longer version, eliminate Cornelius’s lines. End, Mrs. Levi: “…and the only way you can save yourself now is to be married to somebody by the end of next week. So think that over!”


by David Henry Hwang (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 6, pp. 41-44, Gallimard (30s) and Renee (late teens)

Gallimard, a French diplomat, begins an affair with Renee, a bored American university student he meets at a party in the Austrian embassy. The first part of the scene takes place in the embassy, the second in a bedroom. Renee, who is always perky, shares her theories on the correlation between penis size and world wars with the diplomat. Start, Gallimard: “1963. A party at the Austrian embassy.” End, Gallimard: “This was simply not acceptable.”


by A. R. Gurney, Jr. (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 5-10, Eleanor (playing 40s) and Barney (playing 40s)

Eleanor tries to talk Barney out of making an embarrassing speech at his father’s memorial service. Unbeknownst to her, he has purchased the private men’s club that has figured so significantly in all of their lives and in which the service is taking place. Start, Eleanor: “I knew you’d be in here.” End, Eleanor: “Nuts to you, Barney. Just—nuts to you.”

Comedy: Act I, pp. 21-28, Eleanor (playing late teens) and Barney (playing late teens)

Barney is madly in love with Eleanor, but she is leaning toward his younger brother, Billy. In this very physical scene, Barney makes a hopelessly romantic, virginally awkward play for her in the trophy room of the men’s club. He wants to have sex with her tonight, right here, right now. If Eleanor goes on that Bermuda trip tomorrow with Billy, it will be too late. To play this properly, you’ll need dressy clothes, a man’s robe, the makings of a picnic, and someone to operate offstage music to simulate the dance party going on in the next room. Begin as Eleanor and Barney dance into the trophy room, as the action shifts from the 1940s to the 1950s. Start, Eleanor: “Hey!” End, Barney: “Not at all. I’ll be right back.”


by Paddy Chayefsky (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 40-44, The Manufacturer (53) and The Girl (23)

After an unsatisfactory attempt at lovemaking, The Manufacturer feels awful that he wasn’t able to perform sexually. The Girl is very understanding. He asks her to marry him. Start, The Manufacturer: “I’m sorry, Betty.” End, The Manufacturer: “Oh, my sweet girl, I love you so much you don’t know. If you change your mind tomorrow, I won’t be angry with you. I won’t lie to you, Betty. I’m afraid.”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, pp. 65-68, The Girl (23) and The Husband (late 20s)

The Girl sent The Husband a letter asking for a divorce. He flew in from Las Vegas to try to talk her out of it. But The Girl is determined; anyway, she is in love with The Manufacturer. Start, The Girl: “George, I’d like to know why you came back. I mean it really.” End, The Husband: “I swear I won’t do it again.”


by August Strindberg (Six Plays of Strindberg, translated by Elizabeth Sprigge, Doubleday/Anchor)

Drama: One-act play, Julie (25) and Jean (30)

This ninety-minute, one-act play is divided into two parts: a seduction scene between Miss Julie and her father’s valet, Jean, and the consequences of their passion. In this scene, Kristin, a minor character, has conveniently fallen asleep. Julie invites Jean to go outside into the night and pick lilacs. As they prepare to leave, Jean gets something in his eye, which Julie tends to. As she does, she becomes more sexually provocative. This is fairly outrageous behavior for a woman of that era, particularly with a man from a lower class. The tempo of the dance between Jean and Julie increases until they go into Jean’s room, presumably to make love, as a group of party revelers approaches. Start, Julie: “Now come out and pick some lilac for me.” End, Jean: “I swear.”

Drama: Julie (25) and Jean (30)

Julie and Jean emerge from his bedroom, having just made love. She is agitated, trying to determine what to do now that she has violated class lines and made herself submissive to a lowly valet. She decides to run away and attempts to get Jean to accompany her. Perhaps they’ll run a hotel somewhere. For Jean’s part, their lovemaking has transformed him into someone cruelly dominant. In fact, Jean insults Julie now that she is “his.” Start, Jean: “Now you see! And you heard, didn’t you? Do you still think it is possible for us to stay here?” End, Jean: “Orders always sound unkind. Now you know. Now you know.”


by Howard Teichmann (adapted from Nathanael West’s novel, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 24-27, Betty (early 20s) and Miss Lonelyhearts (26)

Betty’s fiancé hasn’t been around for three weeks, ever since he started writing a daily lovelorn advice column for the newspaper. The newspaper readers know him now as “Miss Lonelyhearts.” In this short, intense scene, he appears unexpectedly at Betty’s apartment, and she can tell right away that he has changed in some negative way. No longer quite as glib and cynical, he seems more introspective and disturbed. Start, Betty: “God only knows about men, too. Women don’t.” End, Betty: “Why don’t you let me alone? I felt swell before you came, and now I feel rotten. Go away. Please, go away!”

Drama: Act I, Scene 8, pp. 42-45, Fay (30s) and Miss Lonelyhearts (26)

Miss Lonelyhearts has agreed to a face-to-face meeting with a troubled reader who wrote to him for advice. Fay, a sad, physically strong woman, comes to his apartment. As she shares her terrible story, the sexual tension between them increases. Within minutes, they head for the bedroom. This scene is best for experienced actors. Start, Lonelyhearts: “Come in…Want to give me your coat?” End, Fay: “Oh, honey, turn off the light.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 51-54, Betty (early 20s) and Miss Lonelyhearts (26)

Concerned about Miss Lonelyhearts’s mental and physical health, Betty has brought him to the country for some rest and relaxation. After four days, however, he is more troubled than ever, and he has made no effort at all to sleep with her. In this scene, Betty lets Miss Lonelyhearts know that she is ready to go to bed with him, but he refuses, explaining that he has decided to give himself to all people, not just one special woman. The scene calls for a telephone that rings, but they don’t answer it. You can easily omit the references to it if you want. Start, Miss Lonelyhearts: “Hullo.” End, Betty: “That’s not for us either. Good night.”


by Dennis McIntyre (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 26-34, Modigliani (31) and Bea (late 20s)

Modigliani’s girlfriend, Bea, tries to make him work, but he is demoralized, sick, hungry, and a bit manic. At one point in this scene, she challenges him to paint by stripping off her clothes and posing. You can easily adjust this moment to stop short of full nudity. Start, Modigliani: “A day-and-a-half!” End, Bea: “I know. Sleep.”


by William Gibson (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 15-17, Annie (35) and John (26)

This short scene begins with John trying to convince an angry Annie to help him with the book he is writing about Helen Keller. Annie is tired of living in Helen’s shadow and wants to be appreciated for herself. Then, suddenly, the action turns romantic when Annie tries to make a dramatic exit. John grabs her, and they roll on the ground and kiss. At age thirty-five, Annie has had no experience with romance. Start, John: “My, you’re a contrary type. If you ever drown, I’ll look for you upstream.” End, Annie: “It—deserves its reputation.”

Drama: Act I, pp. 20-22, Annie (35) and John (26)

Annie and John are hiding from Helen because she doesn’t know they’re romantically involved. They want each other, and John asks Annie to marry him. Annie is excited by the proposal but doesn’t accept for two reasons. John is younger than she is, and the latter feels that she is already married—to Helen Keller. Start, Annie: “She’s gone.” End, John: “How many children are you planning on?”

Drama: Act II, pp. 51-54, Annie (35, playing 40) and John (26, playing 31)

Annie came home to find John kissing Helen by the fireplace, and this scene is the fallout. He tells Annie that he feels he is married to Siamese twins, Annie and Helen, that he has neither wife nor child, and that he feels unfulfilled. Annie damns him for taking advantage of Helen and for not appreciating all her own hard work. Start, John: “Kissed the girls and made them cry.” End, John: “She makes me feel tender. You don’t.”


by Eugene O’Neill (Samuel French)

Drama: Act III, Josie (28) and Tyrone (early 40s)

Josie and Tyrone are alone in the moonlight. She longs for romance but discovers that he wants only forgiveness for the sins he committed while accompanying his mother’s body cross-country last year. Actors who try this material should pay particular attention to the very specific casting guidelines playwright Eugene O’Neill demanded for Josie: “She should be a big woman, perhaps 5 feet 11 inches, weighing maybe 180 pounds, full-breasted, not mannish.”

The material, which takes up all of Act III, is dense, rich, and demanding. As such, it is much too long for most workshops. You can divide it into two sections. For the first excerpt, begin with Josie’s entrance at the top of Act II (pp. 66-78). Start, Josie: “You’d think I’d been gone years.” End, Tyrone: “Thanks, Josie.” The second scene begins where the first excerpt ends (pp. 78-93). Start, Tyrone: “Why did you say a while ago I’d be leaving for New York soon.” End, Josie: “God forgive me, it’s a fine end to all my scheming, to sit here with the dead hugged to my breast, and the silly mug of a moon grinning down, enjoying the joke!”


by William Hanley (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Mrs. Dally (38) and Frankie (18)

This two-character, one-act play presents several possibilities for scenework. In one seven-page scene, it is late afternoon, and Mrs. Dally and Frankie are organizing themselves after what was apparently a very passionate lovemaking session (pp. 45-52). Start, Frankie: “What happened to my…?” End, Mrs. Dally: “Wait a sec.”

In the second excerpt, Mrs. Dally tells Frankie that she’d like to go out in public with him, to visit museums and such (pp. 59-68). They talk about what makes them happy, the differences in their ages, and religious guilt. Start, Mrs. Dally: “I’d like to go for a walk. Down by the river, maybe.” End, Mrs. Dally: “Well…you’ll understand soon enough.”

Yet another choice for scenework overlaps the preceding excerpt (pp. 66-75). Here, Mrs. Dally tells Frankie about her show-business career and plays the trombone a tiny bit, after which they discuss John Donne’s poetry. If you don’t want to attempt playing the trombone, simply eliminate all mention of it. Start, Mrs. Dally: “Frankie…did you ever wonder if I did this before?” Continue to the end of the play. End, Mrs. Dally: “Just remember what I said: listen to the sweet music…and pass it on.”


by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 8-11, Arlene (38) and Mitchell (36)

Arlene and her dentist/lover, Mitchell, wait in a room at the Howard Johnson’s hotel for her husband, Paul. She intends to ask him for a divorce. If he balks, she and Mitchell plan to murder him. The closer they get to the moment of truth, the more sexually turned on they get. Start, Mitchell: “Well, the bathtub is ready.” End, Mitchell: “Think positive.”

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 27-32, Arlene (38) and Paul (40-45)

Arlene has discovered that Mitchell is having an affair with his dental assistant, and she is bent on revenge. Faking a suicide attempt, she tricks her ex-husband, Paul, into rescuing her and then enlists his assistance in killing Mitchell. Start, Arlene: “Hello, Mitchell. This is Arlene.” End, Paul: “Who needs a hundred percent? Don’t do it!”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 49-52, Maxine (40s) and Shannon (35)

Shannon is struggling with inner demons, trying to choose between returning as a priest to a hypocritical church he despises, or committing suicide. Here, he composes a letter to the dean of the divinity school at Sewanee as the lusty Maxine, recently widowed, presses him to forget all that and move in with her. Begin at the top of Act II. Start, Maxine: “Workin’ on your sermon for next Sunday, Rev’rend?” End, Shannon: “I’ll handle it myself and you keep out of it, please.”


by Alan Ayckbourn (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 23-27, Ruth (30s) and Norman (30s)

Sarah has summoned Ruth, Norman’s wife, to the country house for the weekend because it has come to light that Norman has been planning a romantic holiday with Ruth’s sister, Annie, who is also in residence. In this scene, which takes place at breakfast time, Ruth has just arrived. After a few moments, Norman tells her outright that he is planning to go away with Annie. Ruth just laughs in his face. You’ll need some breakfast cereal, bowls, and utensils. Written in the British vernacular. Start, Ruth: “Oh, Reg, how are you? I’ve been meaning to ring you, but I haven’t had a minute.” End, Ruth (laughing uncontrollably): “I never heard anything so funny.”


by Elaine May (Samuel French)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 5-8, Edith (25-35) and Claude (25-35)

Edith wants to borrow some rope from the new man moving in across the hall so she can hang herself. He has only some packing twine. Begin at the top of the play, and continue until Edith’s exit back into her own apartment. Start, Edith: “Hi, there! I’m your neighbor from across the hall…” End, Claude: “You’re welcome…Oh God…”


by John Steinbeck (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, pp. 59-63, Lennie (30-40) and Curley’s wife (20s)

Curley’s pretty wife has decided to leave her jealous husband and run away to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies. As she hides her suitcase in the barn for tonight’s escape, she encounters Lennie, who is sadly hiding there because he has accidentally killed his new puppy. Lennie tells her about the farm he and George are going to have someday, and she tells him about how she is really cut out to be an actress. Then she places his hand on her hair so he can feel how soft it is. When Lennie innocently grasps her hair too hard, she panics and tries to get away from him. Then Lennie, a physically powerful man, accidentally breaks her neck, killing her. Start, Curley’s wife: “What—what you doin’ here?” End, Lennie: “I’ll throw him away. It’s bad enough like it is.”


by Arthur Kopit (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 16-24, Rosalie (20-25) and Jonathan (18-25)

Rosalie babysits for the absentee couple in the penthouse across the way and comes to visit Jonathan, who has recently arrived in this Caribbean resort with his mother. In this comically wild first meeting, Rosalie learns that Jonathan’s mother has completely shielded him from the outside world. As a result, he has no social skills or experience with the opposite sex, and devotes all his energy to his hobbies: coin and stamp collecting. Toward the end of the scene, Rosalie turns seductive; this behavior stumps Jonathan. You’ll need the sound of an offstage cuckoo clock that gets progressively louder. Start, Rosalie: “But if you’ve been here two weeks, why haven’t I seen you?” End, Jonathan: “I—I—I lllove you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I…”


by Harold Pinter (Grove Press)

Drama: Act I, Keeley (40s) and Kate (40s)

As Kate and Keeley wait at home for her friend’s arrival, they discuss Anna, whom Kate hasn’t seen for twenty years. Actually, Anna is standing onstage during all of this, but she hasn’t entered the scene. Start, Kate: “Dark.” End, Keeley: “Anyway, none of this matters.”

Drama: Act II, Deeley (40s) and Anna (40s)

Kate is in the bathroom. Deeley and Anna talk. Did Deeley and Anna know each other before Deeley married Kate? Were Anna and Kate lovers? Only playwright Harold Pinter knows for sure. Start, Deeley: “Here we are. Good and hot.” End, Deeley: “If I walked into The Wayfarers Tavern now, and saw you sitting in the corner, I wouldn’t recognize you.”


by David Mamet (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 30-36, John (35-45) and Carol (20)

John’s tenure was derailed because of the sexual harassment accusations one of his students filed. In this fifteen-page act, he has summoned Carol to his office to try to resolve the issue before more damage is done. There is, however, no reasoning with her. You’ll need a telephone that rings. Start, John: “You see, I love to teach. And I flatter myself I am skilled at it.” End, Carol: “Let me go. Let me go. Would somebody help me please?” For a shorter excerpt, start, Carol: “Whatever you have done to me—to the extend that you’ve done it to me, do you know, rather than to me as a student.” Continue to the same end.


by Frank D. Gilroy (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 7, pp. 37-47, Fran Walker (28) and Thomas Lockwood (52)

Tom Lockwood, Fran Walker’s longtime lover, shows up unexpectedly at her Las Vegas apartment and lets himself in while she is at work. Fran walks in at 2 A.M. with Joe Grady, who lives with her and is stunned to discover Tom sitting in the living room. Joe leaves them alone, and Tom tells her that he has obtained a divorce at last and wants her to marry him. Initially ecstatic, Fran suddenly realizes that she can’t go through with it. She tells Tom that she isn’t going with him and that she has fallen in love with Joe. Start, Fran: “I’ve been living with him.” End, Fran: “You too, Mister.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 60-71, Fran Walker (28) and Joe Grady (30-35)

Joe Grady and Fran Walker have had a relationship-of-convenience for two years, neither having spoken the words, “I love you.” After a traumatic day and night during which Joe gambles away all his money—and then wins it back—he realizes his love for Fran is important. He returns to the apartment, declares his feelings, and asks her to marry him. Fran is still afraid of deep emotional commitment and resists at first. Then she agrees. This is the final scene of the play. Start, Joe: “Top of the morning.” End, Joe: “One…two…three.”


by Shirley Lauro (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 50-60, Ginny (30s) and Calvin (18)

Calvin realizes that his grades in the New York State university system mean nothing. He has been getting Bs but doesn’t understand ten percent of the subject matter covered. Here, Calvin confronts Ginny, one of his teachers, as she is leaving for the day. This is a very powerful, sometimes physical scene. For a lengthy excerpt, you can begin with Ginny’s telephone call, which establishes her personal problems. End, Calvin: “Burn it! Bullshittin Image bitch!!! Burn it, burn it, down, down down!!!” For a shorter version, begin as Ginny starts to leave the room and discovers Calvin. “OOOHH!! You scared me!” Continue to the same end.

Drama: Act II, pp. 70-75, Salina (20s) and Calvin (18)

When Calvin arrived home, he was still upset by the confrontation with his teacher, and slapped his seven-year-old niece. Now he is overcome with guilt. Calvin’s sister, Salina, tries to figure out what is going on with him, and when she realizes that he intends to quit school, she is infuriated. Eliminate the niece’s line, and roll up some blankets to serve as the child onstage. Start, Salina: “Calvin!…Calvin!” End, Salina: “Oh Lord God, where you goin? Come back! Don’t do nothin’ crazy, hear? Calvin?!?!? Oh God!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 80-87, Ginny (30s) and Calvin (18)

In the final scene, Calvin and his teacher come to terms with each other, and Ginny agrees to actually teach him something rather than give him Bs and walk him through the classes. This dynamic scene is very physical at times and quite emotional. Start, Ginny: “Oh! My God! Calvin! You scared me!” Continue to the end of the play. End, Calvin: “Asking…asking…asking…asking…”


by Jerry Sterner (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 46-50, Garfinkle (40-45) and Kate (35)

Kate and Garfinkle, two bright, aggressive people, talk business. But there is an erotic subtext, which is sometimes overt. Start, Garfinkle: “You know what kills me? I’ve done maybe seven—eight deals like this.” End, Garfinkle: “I think I’m falling in love.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 75-78, Garfinkle (40-45) and Bea (early 60s)

Kate’s mother, Bea, tries to give Garfinkle money from her personal stock holdings in exchange for him stopping his efforts to take over the company she works for. Start, Bea: “Good afternoon, Mr. Garfinkle.” End, Bea: “I hope you choke on your money and die!”


by Simon Gray (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 31-36, Simon (39) and Beth (30s)

Simon has suspected for months that his wife, Beth, is having an affair but has chosen to say nothing about it. Simon himself isn’t altogether sexually faithful. In this comically tense scene, Beth returns from a supposed business trip, which was actually a tryst, and all the cards are laid on the table. Written in the British vernacular. Begin after Stephen exits. Start, Beth: “What did he say?” Stop just before Dave’s entrance. End, Beth: “Because I hate you.”


by Philip Barry (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 76-82, Tracy Lord (24) and Mike Connor (30)

Mike Connor and a female photographer are on assignment for a gossip magazine, reporting on the wedding of wealthy socialite Tracy Lord to successful, self-made businessman George Kittredge. One thing has led to another and, in this scene, Tracy and Mike find themselves in a romantic embrace. It is almost dawn, and both of them have had a bit too much to drink. Start, Tracy: “Hello you.” End, Tracy: “Not me—oh, not me! Put me in your pocket, Mike.”


by August Wilson (Plume Drama)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 2, Avery (38) and Berniece (35)

Avery tries to get Berniece to marry him, telling her that she can use the piano in his new church. But she doesn’t want to get married. Start, Berniece: “Who is it?” End, Avery: “God says He will soothe the troubled waters. I’ll come by tomorrow and bless the house.”


by William Inge (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 54-56, Madge (18) and Hal (early 20s)

Everyone except Madge and Hal have departed for the picnic. Hal is trying to sort out his feelings from an earlier confrontation with Rosemary Sidney, who accused him of being a bum and a fraud. Madge and Hal talk and kiss, and at scene’s end, walk off hand in hand, presumably to make love. Start, Madge: “Don’t feel bad. Women like Miss Sidney make me disgusted with the whole female sex.” End, Hal: “Do we? There’s other places…with not so many people.”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, pp. 57-60, Rosemary Sidney (about 40) and Howard (42)

After making love with Rosemary Sidney, Howard brings her home. She is depressed and shaken. As he turns to leave, she suddenly and forcefully demands that he marry her. But he, being a confirmed bachelor, hedges. Start, Howard: “Here we are, honey.” End, Howard: “Good night.”


by Joanna M. Glass (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 59-62, Jean MacMillan (20s, playing early teens) and Cam (late 50s)

Jean MacMillan comes home from school and, as usual, finds Cam, her father, sitting alone, immersed in self-pity. She tells him how much she longs for a “normal” family, and he launches into a speech about how despicable “normal” is. Jean is frustrated and sad that she can’t seem to inspire her father to get his act together. Cam knows how his behavior appears to others, but he is evidently unable to change. His is a slow, steady descent into alcoholism and poverty. Start, Cam: “Hello…May I deduce that things did not go well at school today?” End, Cam: “I can see you need to—change your clothes.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 68-72, Ruth (50s) and Cam (late 50s)

After Cam swapped his twelve-year-old daughter’s beautiful carved closet door for some liquor, she stopped talking. She hasn’t made a sound for two weeks. This scene begins as Ruth, Cam’s wife, comes in, having spoken to the school counselor about options. The counselor has suggested that mother and daughter move out of this home and has arranged a place for them to go. But Ruth wants more than anything to hold the family together, even in the face of its poverty and alcoholism. Cam, however, knows that the situation has gone too far, and he encourages Ruth to take the girl and leave him. He insists and, finally, Ruth agrees. A very touching, intense scene. Start, Ruth: “Any change in Jean?” End, Cam: “Should have paid more attention since he’s now to be the—steward of my family.”


by Jeffrey Sweet (Samuel French)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 8-14, Amy (early 30s) and Ernest Herbert (early 60s)

Ernest Herbert is a widower, facing exploratory surgery tomorrow. In this scene, he presses Amy, his daughter and only surviving child, to marry and have a family, to give him grandchildren. Start, Herbert: “So tell me.” End, Herbert: “No, you’re not.”

Drama: One-act play, pp. 21-31, Amy (early 30s) and Sam (early 30s)

Amy is visiting with her father when her old high-school boyfriend, Sam, shows up. Amy’s father told Sam that she was in town, hoping that sparks would fly again between these two lovers, who haven’t seen each other for eleven years. Begin after Herbert leaves them alone on the porch. Start, Amy: “Subtle, isn’t he?” End, Amy: “Yup.”

Drama: One-act play, pp. 30-39, Amy (early 30s) and Sam (early 30s)

Amy still believes that the decision she made years ago to abort her pregnancy by Sam was the right one. Though she hasn’t seen him or answered his letters for eleven years, some of those old sparks are still glowing. In this excerpt, Sam and Amy talk about what might have been, but she refuses to rekindle their romance. Start, Sam: “You ever wonder what would have happened if we’d gone through with it? Gotten married, had the kid?” Stop with Sam’s exit. End, Amy: “Yuh.”


by Craig Lucas (Broadway Play Publishing)

Comedy: Act I, Rita (mid-to-late 20s) and Peter (mid-to-late 20s)

Because most scenes in this play are quite short, you’ll probably want to combine two. In this excerpt, the first part takes place in Rita’s apartment. After Peter and Rita make love, they talk about sexual fantasies, whether or not to have children, and political preferences—the kinds of topics you would expect new lovers to talk about. In the second part, which takes place in Rita’s apartment six weeks later, Peter asks Rita to marry him. As written, the scenes are intended to be played back-to-back. Start, Peter: “Christ!” End, Rita: “Uh huh.”


by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 18-29, Mel (46) and Edna (early 40s)

Mel is in a bad enough mood because he lost his job. Then he comes home to discover his apartment has been robbed. The thieves even took his dental floss. This rather long scene moves fast. You’ll need props that suggest the apartment has been ransacked. Start, Edna: “Edison…Mrs. Edna Edison…I’ve just been robbed.” End, Mel: “Because it’s not a heart attack. It’s pains in my chest.”


by Noel Coward (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 10-12, Sybil (23) and Elyot (30)

The setting: the terrace of Elyot and Sybil’s honeymoon suite on a romantic, moonlit night in the south of France. Sybil went inside to dress for dinner and, as she returns, is shocked to hear an inexplicably rattled Elyot announce that he wants to leave the hotel immediately. His insistence leads to an argument when she balks. What Sybil doesn’t realize, however, is that Elyot discovered only a few moments ago that his ex-wife, Amanda, is honeymooning with her new husband in the adjacent suite! Start, Sybil: “Cocktail, please.” End, Sybil: “Oh, Elli, Elli, Elli.”

Comedy: Act I, pp. 13-15, Amanda (late 20s) and Victor (35)

The setting: the balcony of Amanda and Victor’s honeymoon suite on the same romantic, moonlit night in the south of France. Victor went inside to dress for dinner and, as he returns, is shocked to hear an inexplicably rattled Amanda announce that she wants to leave the hotel immediately. Her insistence leads to an argument when he balks. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that Amanda discovered only a few moments ago that her ex-husband, Elyot, is honeymooning with his new wife in the adjacent suite! Start, Victor: “You were certainly right when you said you weren’t normal.” End, Amanda: “Go away, go away, go away.”

Comedy: Act I, pp. 15-22, Amanda (late 20s) and Elyot (30)

Amanda and Elyot’s new spouses have left their respective hotel suites in anger, and Amanda and Elyot confront each other on their respective terraces. Still madly in love, the formerly married couple soon decides to abandon their new spouses, cast caution to the wind, and run away together to Paris. The characters refer to offstage music at key points in this scene. If you don’t use music, omit the corresponding references. Start, Amanda: “Thoughtful of them to play that, wasn’t it?” End, Elyot: “Solomon Issacs.” For an alternative, shorter excerpt that doesn’t require smoking, start, Amanda: “I’m in such a rage.” Continue to the same end.

Comedy: Act II, pp. 24-29, Amanda (late 20s) and Elyot (30)

Act II is a prolonged scene between Amanda and Elyot in her Paris flat. The scene begins very romantically and ends with the couple literally rolling on the floor fighting, obviously on the road to breaking up again. Start, Amanda: “I’m glad we let Louise go.” End, Elyot: “I think I love you more than ever before. Isn’t it ridiculous? Put your feet up.”


by David Auburn (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 5-12, Robert (50s) and Catherine (25)

This is actually a dream sequence because Catherine’s father, Robert, died a week ago. She is disheveled, deep in thought on the back porch of the house she shared with her dad. He enters and they talk about whether or not she has inherited his mental instability. The scene is fueled by both love and loss. Start, Robert: “Can’t sleep?” End, Robert: “For you, Catherine, my daughter—who I love very much—it could be a bad sign.”

Drama: Act 1, Scene 1, pp. 12-20, Hal (28) and Catherine (25)

Hal has been upstairs riffling through Catherine’s late father’s journals, hoping that they contain as-yet-unfound insights of genius into mathematics. He comes downstairs, heading for the front door, when this scene takes place. Catherine correctly guesses that Hal is stealing one of her dad’s journals. Later in the play, these two characters become lovers, so there should be a spark. Start with Hal’s entrance on page 5. Catherine: “What?” End, Catherine: “Shit!”


by Anton Chekhov (The Sneeze: Plays and Stories by Anton Chekhov, translated and adapted by Michael Frayn, Samuel French)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 84-89, Natalya Stepanovna (25) and Lomov (35)

Lomov has finally gotten up the nerve to ask Natalya Stepanova to marry him. But before he can get to the important part of his proposal, the exchange degenerates into an argument about whether her family or his owns a nearby parcel of land, Ox Lea Meadows. Start, Natalya: “Oh, good Lord, it’s you!” End, Lomov: “They’re mine!”


by James Kirkwood (revised edition, Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 15-23, Jimmy (38) and Kate (32)

Kate has chosen New Year’s Eve to break off her live-in relationship with Jimmy. While he is out of their apartment, she is packing her stuff. Jimmy comes home unexpectedly, and he and Kate have a breakup scene. Start, Kate: “Oh—Jimmy.” End, Kate: “Enchanting!…Good-bye!”


by N. Richard Nash (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 64-70, Lizzie (27) and File (late 30s)

File has allegedly traveled to the Curry place to apologize for hitting Lizzie’s brother Jim earlier in the day. The truth is that File wants to see Lizzie. They’re attracted to each other, but neither is comfortable with the opposite sex. This charming scene is frequently overlooked because everyone wants to do the Lizzie/Starbuck scenes. Eliminate Noah’s brief interruption. Start, Lizzie: “How about a cup of coffee?” End, File: “Don’t be so damn ridiculous. Be yourself!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 75-79, Lizzie (27) and Starbuck (30s)

Lizzie was humiliated by her brother Noah when he called her an old maid and suggested that she get used to the idea that she is, in fact, plain, not pretty. Distraught, she ran from the room, picking up Starbuck’s bed linen on the way. She came directly to the barn where he is spending the night, intent on delivering the linen to him. During the scene, Starbuck tells Lizzie that she is pretty. They kiss. Start, Starbuck: “Who’s that?…Who’s there?” Continue to the end of the act. End, Lizzie: “Oh, is it me? Is it really me?!”

Drama: Act III, pp. 88-90, Lizzie (27) and Starbuck (30s)

In the afterglow of lovemaking, Starbuck confesses to Lizzie that he is a fraud and a dreamer, and that, contrary to his claims, he has never made it rain. Start, Starbuck: “And I always walk so fast and ride so far I never have time to stop and ask myself no question.” End, Lizzie: “And then one night you look down—and there it is—shining in your hand!”


by John Patrick Shanley (Welcome to the Moon and Other Plays, Dramatists Play Service; 13 by Shanley, Applause)

Comedy: One-act play, Dramatists Play Service pp. 9-12, Mary (16) and John (17)

In this short play, John is at a festive party but still feels lonely, so he goes outside to sit in the light of the full moon. When Mary, who is on her way to the same party, arrives, they talk. Their conversation quickly becomes an exultant declaration of mutual love and understanding. Start, John: “Hi, Mary.” End, John: “I know. I can feel them shining.”


by David Mamet (Reunion and Dark Pony, Grove Press)

Drama: One-act play, Carol (24) and Bernie (53)

The subject of this one-act play is the reunion of a father and daughter after a twenty-year separation. Just twenty-three pages long, the play is divided into fourteen brief scenes that take place during a single conversation. One option is to perform scenes 1, 2, and 3 without interruption; together, they contain plenty of subtext (pp. 9-16). This excerpt includes the opening moments of Carol and her father Bernie’s meeting. They’re trying to figure out how to talk to one another and are feeling their way in the dark. Start, Bernie: “I would have recognized you anywhere. It is you, isn’t it?” End, Bernie: “I’ll be goddamned if I don’t feel like I’m gonna bust out crying. And I almost did.”

A second option is to perform scenes 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 without interruption for an excerpt that runs about five-and-a-half pages (pp. 27-32). In the final moments of the play, Carol tells her father that she looked him up because she simply “felt lonely…I never had a father.” He gives her a gift, a gold bracelet he had specially inscribed to mark the occasion. Start, Bernie: “But I can’t work for the phone company anymore. When they finally pulled my license, that was it.” End, Bernie: “Thank you.”


by Arthur Kopit (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, pp. 79-89, Jerry (30s to 40s) and Nirvana (late 20s)

Nirvana, rock’s biggest female star, and Jerry spend their first moments alone next to her massive swimming pool. They talk about reincarnation, loyalty, and movie deals. What Jerry doesn’t know is that Nirvana is sizing him up and, very soon, will ask for his testicles—or at least one of them—as proof of his loyalty to her and the price of her participation in the movie project he is producing. Start, Nirvana: “Have you any coke?” End, Nirvana: “You’re my protector now.”


by Elan Garonzik (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Scene 6, pp. 20-24, Millie (23, playing teens) and Dennis (20s, playing teens)

Millie dreams of being a famous painter. In this flashback scene, she paints a portrait of Dennis, the young man from the farm next door. He is feeling his oats and wants her to be the first one he kisses, so after a while they go ahead and do it. Dennis discovers that kissing Millie “ain’t like kissin’ old Aunt Eleanor or huggin’ my horse.” Start, Millie: “Dennis Houser, how could you speak such an awful lie? Why, you make me just indignant!” End, Millie: “Oh, Dennis Houser, eat your raspberries.”

Drama: Scene 10, pp. 32-37, Helena (25) and Samuel (27)

The year is 1893, and Samuel, the manager of Helena’s Pennsylvania farm, is trying to save up enough money to head west. But he and Helena have known one another for a few weeks, and romance is in the air. In this five-page scene, which takes place in a ripe raspberry patch, they dance around the issues of commitment and marriage. In a nice monologue, Helena tells Samuel about her first true love and how it evaporated. Then they kiss. Start, Samuel: “And we spent seven dollars on new planking for the barn.” End, Samuel: “Wanting so much. Desiring so much.”

Comedy-Drama: Scene 12, pp. 40-46, Millie (21) and Dennis (21)

It is Dennis’s birthday, and Millie has bought him a pipe. They smoke the pipe together as they talk about the future. She admits that she has always loved him, that she knows he loves her, and that she expects them to marry. Dennis then tells Millie that he has been courting another woman. Millie may be crushed, but she takes the high road, wishing him all the luck in the world. Then they go skinny-dipping. Start, Millie: “Dennis! Deeennniss! Hurry up! Or the moon’ll go down and we won’t see a thing.” End, Millie: “Anyway, Dennis Houser, this is 1893. And that’s not the Middle Ages!”


by Anton Chekhov (a new version by Jean-Claude Van Itallie, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act IV, pp. 49-53, Nina (21) and Treplev (27)

Two years ago, Nina left her father’s comfortable home outside Moscow, moved to the big city to become an actress, and began an affair with Trigorin, a famous novelist much older than she. The affair resulted in a child who died, and ultimately, Trigorin abandoned her. Nina’s acting career has been mediocre, but since being disowned by her father, she has been forced to make her meager living from the stage.

In this scene, Nina appears unexpectedly one night in Treplev’s studio. He is ecstatic to see her since he has loved her madly for years. He again declares his undying love; she, in turn, tells him she still loves Trigorin even though the man has treated her badly. As quickly as Nina appeared, she bids farewell to Treplev, leaving for a winter acting engagement in a distant province. After her departure, Treplev is in despair over this life that will never be fulfilled, and takes his own. Start, Treplev: “I’ve talked a lot about new forms.” End, Treplev: “I hope no one sees her in the garden and tells Mamma. Mamma would be upset.”


by Edward J. Moore (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 11-19, Gertrude (late 30s) and Harry (late 30s)

This two-character play examines the relationship between a strong, independent woman and the sailor who has come to love her. There are a number of possibilities for scenework. In one scene, which is filled with conflict, Harry tells Gertrude about his plans to buy a fishing boat and marry her. She doesn’t like the idea because she can’t accept that kind of intimacy. They argue, and then make up. If you decide to use this play for scene study, keep in mind that Moore specified an important casting consideration: Gertrude is described as a “big woman” and should be overweight. Start, Gertrude: “This run was a lot longer, wasn’t it?” End, Gertrude: “Yeah, I think you better tell me about it now!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 33-41, Gertrude (late 30s) and Harry (late 30s)

Gertrude wakes up to find Harry fixing breakfast for her and trying to make amends for the fight they had last night. Still unwilling to accept this kind of intimacy, she gets angry. Start, Harry: “Oh…morning…Wow!” End, Harry: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!”


by David Mamet (Samuel French)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 14-17, Bernard (30-35) and Joan (about 25)

In this short scene, Bernard tries to pick Joan up in a singles bar. He is arrogant, crude, dishonest, and insulting. It is unclear why Joan is in a singles bar in the first place. Start, Bernard: “Evening. Good evening.” End, Bernard: “You got a lot of fuckin’ nerve.”


by Michael Cristofer (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 13-18, Joe (48-55) and Maggie (38-45)

Joe hasn’t seen his wife, Maggie, and their young son for six months. During his time here in the hospital, he has come to terms with his prognosis of terminal cancer, but she is still in denial. Maggie continues to put on a happy face, hoping everything will turn out okay. During this scene, Maggie tries to get Joe to come back home and talks about plans for the future. But Joe resists. He insists that she realize how very much he loves her even though he is dying. In the end, the reality of the situation drags Maggie into despair. Start, Maggie: “End of line.” End, Maggie: “I knew it. I knew it.”

Drama: Act I, pp. 22-27, Beverly (mid-30s) and Mark (25-30)

Beverly has come to the hospital to visit her ex-husband, Brian, who is dying of cancer. She drinks herself into a party mood, and when she happily bursts into his room, she is surprised to find herself face-to-face with his male lover, Mark, who is not at all happy to see her. Start, Beverly: “Surprise!” End, Beverly: “Hey!”

Drama: Act I, pp. 37-41, Brian (mid-40s) and Beverly (mid-30s)

Now that he is dying, Beverly gets reacquainted with Brian, her ex-husband. They talk about their feelings and come to terms with his prognosis. Laughter through tears. No longer married, they are still good friends. Start, Beverly: “Caro! Caro! You old fart!” End, Beverly: “Yes. But why it is I always seem to end up in Naples?”

Drama: Act II, pp. 76-80, Joe (48-55) and Maggie (38-45)

Here, Joe and Maggie talk about the farm they never had and their life together, and Maggie begins to accept the fact that Joe is going to die from cancer. Start, Joe: “It would have been nice.” End, Maggie: “I can’t. I can’t.”


by Neil Labute (Faber and Faber)

Drama: “A Park,” pp. 46-58, Adam (early 20s) and Jenny (early 20s)

Jenny is engaged to marry Phillip, and Adam is involved with another woman. They meet in a park just to catch up on things and wind up sharing a totally unexpected romantic kiss. Could this be a relationship that might have been? Start, Adam: “…hey.” End, Jenny: “Come on. We should go bury this. Out in the woods…”

Drama: “An Exhibition Gallery,” pp. 123-137, Adam (early 20s) and Evelyn (early 20s)

This is the final scene in the play and presents considerable acting challenges. Moments before the scene begins, Adam learns that he has been the object of an elaborate hoax perpetuated by Evelyn. He thought the two of them were in love, but she was in fact “sculpting” him, making him over as a living art project. He has just learned that she really only objectifies him. In this complex emotional scene, he confronts her. Start, Adam: “…not a big ‘modern art’ crowd, I guess, huh?” End, Adam: “…oh.”


by Donald Margulies (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 9-20, Patricia (35-45) and Jonathan (35-45)

During the years following the failure of Jonathan and Patricia’s love affair, he has become a celebrated and financially successful painter. On the occasion of his first major exhibit outside North America, he looks Patricia up. She is now married to an archaeologist and living on a farm in Norfolk, England. Start, Jonathan: “You look beautiful.” End, Patricia: “You aren’t invited. You’re cold. I think it actually is warmer inside.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 32-36, Patricia (35-45) and Jonathan (35-45)

In this flashback scene that takes place shortly after Jonathan’s mother’s death, he tells Patricia, who has come to console him, that he no longer loves her. Start, Patricia: “Jonathan!” End, Jonathan: “I don’t love you, Patty.”


by Robert Anderson (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 33-43, Katherine (mid-30s) and John (40)

John and Katherine occupy adjoining rooms in a New England inn this Christmas Eve. The only other guests in the inn are the honeymooners upstairs. After meeting for the first time a few hours ago, Katherine and John go to a movie and have drinks with the other couple afterward in Katherine’s room. Alone again now, with dawn approaching, the prospect of whether or not to go to bed together hangs in the air.

Katherine says that it isn’t going to happen, and then tells John about the trouble she is having with her husband. He, in turn, tells her about other Christmases abroad. Both of them need to be close to someone tonight, so rather than return to his room, John sleeps on the sofa. Start, Katherine: “Maybe I’d better say something. It may sound ridiculous, but…Oh, no, it is ridiculous.” End, John: “Christmas Eve is Hell, isn’t it? The Fourth of July is much easier.” For a five-page version of this scene, start, Katherine: “What are you doing here alone in a God-forsaken spot on Christmas Eve?” Continue to the same end.

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 57-62, Katherine (mid-30s) and John (40)

This scene is filled to the brim with subtext. John and Katherine have bared their souls and finally slept together only a few hours ago. Now they’re going their separate ways with no regrets, certain that the experience was significant, important, and perhaps even lifesaving. John enters into Katherine’s room as she is packing. You’ll need a telephone to ring. Start, John: “Good morning.” End, Katherine: “I have nothing either.…(reaches in her pocket) a handkerchief.”


by Lewis John Carline (Cages, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, John (40s) and Connie (35-45)

This nineteen-page one-act play centers on a 4 A.M. meeting between a prostitute and a john (customer). Several excerpts capture the essence of Connie and John’s complicated involvement. One option is to begin at the top of the play and continue through to John’s suggestion that Connie reenact the first meeting he had with his first love (pp. 7-15). Connie responds with outrage and telephones her pimp, who tells her that she has to do it. Start, John: “Connie?…Connie?” End, Connie: “You got your way! Now what’a ya want me to do?”

The second scene choice begins where the first excerpt ends and continues to the end of the play (pp. 15-26). This excerpt is far more physically and emotionally demanding than the first one. Connie gets progressively drunk while she attempts to act out John’s fantasy, and he is frustrated with her inability to reenact it as he remembers it. Finally, he slaps her. When Connie recovers, they begin to act out her first-love fantasy. Start, John: “Your dresses in here?” End, Connie: “A dark angel…it’s me. Me!”


by William Inge (Eleven Short Plays by William Inge, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 30-35, Randy (25-30) and Carole (25-30)

In this rare comedy from William Inge, Randy and Carole are two Hollywood actors on the make. They’re trying to get an invitation to the funeral of a prominent actor they cared little about. All that matters to them is being “seen” at this social event. Start, Randy: “Muriel? We’re getting up now. Bring up the usual breakfast.” End, Randy: “Just a slight case so you could tell them with a straight face.”


by Peter Parnell (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 11-17, Stephen (mid-20s) and Liz (mid-20s)

When Stephen arrives at the apartment he shares with Liz, he is stunned to discover her packing to leave him. He tries to talk her out of it while she packs. They discuss the situation in a civil and enlightened way, they kiss and hug, and then she leaves. Start, Stephen: “I don’t believe it.” Stop with Liz’s exit, or continue to the end of the scene and end, Stephen:“…Sorry. I’m sorry to disturb you…I must have copied the wrong…number.…”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 53-61, Stephen (mid-20s) and Christine (mid-20s)

Christine loves William, but she has begun an affair with his best friend, Stephen. Both Stephen and Christine feel conflicted about this romantic triangle, but they kiss and hug a great deal. Start, Christine (reading): “As you know me, you will understand only too clearly what attracts me.” End, Stephen: “Let me embrace you. Let me make you feel safe.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 5, pp. 69-75, William (mid-20s) and Christine (mid-20s)

William has booked a lovely suite at the Plaza Hotel for Christine and himself. He is still apologizing for last night’s mix-up at the opera when he punched the man he erroneously suspected was having an affair with her. William has been drinking champagne and is now tipsy. When he asks Christine to marry him, she agrees even though she also secretly loves Stephen. You’ll need a bed for the scene. Start, Christine (reading): “Lotte had slept little that night.” End, Christine: “The Yanamam. Yes.”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 7, pp. 77-83, Stephen (mid-20s) and Christine (mid-20s)

On a romantic, rainy afternoon in the sculpture garden at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Stephen asks Christine to marry him. She refuses, explaining that she is going to marry Stephen’s best friend, William. She then says that she and Stephen have to end their affair. This is a meaty scene because Christine legitimately loves both men. Start, Christine: “It’s nice out here, isn’t it?” End, Stephen: “Christine, please! Go!”


by David Mamet (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 37-44, Karen (20s) and Gould (35-45)

This is a choice scene in which studio executive Gould has most of the lines. He is “teaching” Karen, his sexy temp secretary, about the movie system before assigning her a boring book on radiation to read. Gould is actually after a roll in the hay with Karen. She is less naive than she appears. Start, Karen: “Mr. Gould.” End, Gould: “And tell him that he owes me five hundred bucks.”

Comedy: Act II, pp. 45-55, Karen (20s) and Gould (35-45)

Karen, the sexy office temp, has read the boring radiation book and is pushing it for movie development. Gould wants to get her into bed. Start, Karen: “He puts his hand on the child’s door.” End, Karen: “You asked me to come. Here I am.” For a shorter version, start, Gould: “You’ve done a fantastic job.” Continue to the same end.


by Rebecca Gilman (Dramatic Publishing)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 9-15, Sarah (mid-to-late 30s) and Ross (mid-to-late 30s)

Ross and Sarah, both members of the Belmont College faculty, have been having a sexual relationship. In this scene, Ross tells Sarah that his previous girlfriend, Petra, has returned from her sabbatical and that he is resuming his relationship with her. He wants to “just be friends” with Sarah. By the end of the scene, she accepts that relationship. Start, Ross: “Have you got a second?” End, Sarah: “Okay. Next?”

Drama: Act I, Scene 6, pp. 45-49, Sarah (mid-to-late 30s) and Patrick (19)

Patrick has written an editorial in the school newspaper, accusing school administrators of racial “tokenism.” Sarah correctly recognizes herself as the unnamed administrator and tries to talk it out with the student. The more she tries to explain herself, however, the worse it gets. Start, Sarah: “…Sorry about the wait. Did you get a letter from financial aid?” End, Sarah: “Patrick. I’m sorry.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 50-54, Sarah (mid-to-late 30s) and Ross (mid-to-late 30s)

Sarah attempts to convince Ross that he is guilty of “idealizing” people that are different from him, thereby prohibiting them from being his true equal. Ross denies it. Start, Ross: “You know, I grew up on a farm.” End, Ross: “…You’re equivocating.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 58-71, Sarah (mid-to-late 30s) and Ross (mid-to-late 30s)

This is a difficult scene to play, for several reasons. Basically, the playwright is laying out the philosophical underpinnings of the entire play as Sarah cleanses herself by admitting to being a closet racist. Ross is appalled. The challenge for the actors is to find the real negotiations in the scene and to avoid a one-note rant. Start, Sarah: “Who is it?” End, Sarah: “I know, I know, I know.”


by Dennis McIntyre (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 33-41, Alea (28-35) and Val (28-35)

Val is an African-American New York City cop who, a few hours ago, lost his temper and killed a racist Caucasian car thief he’d taken into custody. After shooting the thief, Val restaged the crime scene to make it look like a case of self-defense. It is now 4:30 A.M., and he is arriving home where his wife, Alea, has fallen asleep on the sofa. At first Val lies about what happened earlier, but then he tells Alea the truth. Her reaction is to tell him he made the right choice by officially altering the facts. Start, Alea: “What time is it?” End, Val: “No.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 4, pp. 65-69, Alea (28-35) and Rusty (55-60)

Alea and her father-in-law, Rusty, both know what actually happened when Val shot and killed a car thief who was already handcuffed and in custody. Rusty, a retired cop, is ashamed of his son’s actions and the subsequent lie he told to cover up the crime. Alea thinks that expediency was the best choice, that it was better for Val to distort the truth than to risk going to jail. In this tense, four-page scene, Alea tries to get Rusty to change his position to one of support for his son. Start, Rusty: “We could have talked about it over the phone.” End, Alea: “As long as he’s here, that’s all that counts.”


by Michael Weller (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 7-16, Elise (mid-30s) and Martin (16)

Martin comes home from boarding school to find the electricity turned off in his mother’s small Greenwich Village apartment. Elise doesn’t realize that he has been seeing her estranged husband on the sly, planning to engineer a reconciliation between them. An interesting scene because of the age differences between the characters and their complex relationship. Elise is quite the bohemian. Start, Martin: “Mom!” End, Elise: “Angel!”

Drama: Act I, pp. 39-41, Penny (20s) and Martin (16)

In this short scene, Martin talks to Penny, his father’s girlfriend, and tries to convince her not to show up at the party next Sunday. Penny doesn’t know that Martin is scheming to get his mother and father back together at the function. Start, Martin: “I got lost after the Sheep Meadow, sorry.” End, Penny: “I know my overalls stink, but I can still smell bullshit when a truckload of it falls on my head. The answer is no, en-oh.”

Drama: Act I, pp. 42-46, Elise (mid-30s) and Martin (16)

Martin finally tells his mother that he has been secretly seeing his father for some time. He then tells Elise that next Sunday he wants her to come to a party that his father will be attending. Elise resists at first but then agrees to attend. Start, Elise: “Martin, hurry up in there, what are you doing, plotting the Revolution?!” End, Elise: “After all the pains taken, how could I disappoint? We should call and warn him, it’s only fair. But on the other hand, in love and war. Well? What a pair we are, you and I.”


by Steve Metcalfe (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 30-41, Megs (late 30s) and Martha (mid-30s)

Megs and Martha share a common high-school-prom fantasy that leads to a moment of true affection, but Martha resists it. The scene requires a few props: Martha fixes Megs a bowl of soup, which he eats. Stop just before Megs angrily puts his fist through a glass windowpane. Start, Megs: “Martha! Hey, Martha!?” End, Megs: “That bad a dancer, huh!” If you can figure out a way to safely break a window on stage, end, Megs: “Joseph. You’re too much, Martha. M-A-R-T-H-A.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 42-48, Dave (late 30s) and Martha (mid-30s)

Dave, who is unwilling to confront his personal demons, definitely doesn’t want Megs, his old Vietnam War buddy, to come for dinner. But Martha, Dave’s sister, is attracted to Megs and definitely wants him to come. Start, Dave: “Whata you mean you invited him over for dinner?” End, Dave: “Get ’m for me, huh?”


by Tennessee Williams (The Theater of Tennessee Williams, Volume 6; New Directions)

Drama: Scene 2, Landlady (40) and Little Man (35-40)

Little Man has moved into this seedy rooming house and keeps to himself, becoming friends with the cat that was left behind by a former boarder. In this scene, Landlady, who is lonely, walks in on Little Man and tries to seduce him. This event only makes him more nervous and uncertain. Later in the play, Little Man has a complete nervous breakdown. This scene is appropriate for sophisticated actors. Start, Landlady: “Oh—you were playing possum.” End, Landlady: “Nature says—Don’t—be lonesome.”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 20-24, Stanley (about 30) and Stella (late 20s)

Stanley returns to the apartment and discovers Blanche’s fine clothing and jewelry lying around. He figures she bought these relatively expensive items with the money she swindled from Stella. This scene requires some specific props, including clothes and jewelry. Start, Stanley: “Hiya, sweetheart.” End, Stanley: “You’re damn’ tootin’ I’m goin’ to stay here.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 27-29, Stanley (about 30) and Blanche (early 30s)

Stanley demands that Blanche show him the documents of sale for Belle Reve, Stella’s family home. This short but powerful scene contains their first confrontation. Start, Blanche: “The poor little thing was out there listening to us.” End, Blanche: “I didn’t know she was going to have a baby.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 61-68, Blanche (early 30s) and Mitch (about 30)

In this key scene, Blanche has been coming on to Mitch. Alone in the apartment after a date, they move cautiously toward a deeper relationship. He still doesn’t know the truth about her sordid past. If you choose to work on this scene, keep in mind that Mitch is described in the play as six feet tall and weighing 207 pounds. There is a specific reference to his weight in this scene. Begin at the top of the scene. Start, Blanche: “Well…” End, Blanche: “Sometimes—there’s God—so quickly.” For a shorter version, start, Mitch: “Blanche—Blanche—guess how much I weigh?” Continue to the same end.


by Frank D. Gilroy (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 6-10, Nettie (45) and John (50)

It is 1946. Timmy has been discharged from the Army and has returned to the Bronx apartment he has always shared with his parents, Nettie and John. Last night the family celebrated, and Timmy is sleeping it off as John and Nettie talk in the kitchen. They are both grateful that he wasn’t killed or injured in World War II, as so many other young men were, and they have plans to really enjoy him now. Their conversation, however, seems more like sparring than discussion, and it becomes clear that they are competing for Timmy’s affections. This is the first glimpse of a tense relationship that has been sexless for many years. Start, Nettie: “It’s a lovely day…Timmy still asleep?” End, John: “Did I say it wasn’t? There.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 48-51, Nettie (45) and Timmy (21)

Last night, the family ate out in a fancy restaurant and then went to a dance club. After Timmy went to bed, John tried—for the first time in a long time—to make love to Nettie and was rebuffed. This morning, he is in a foul mood and takes out his frustration on Timmy. A few moments ago, John stormed out, apparently on his way to church. In this scene Timmy blames his mother for the problems at home, says she has never really understood or been supportive of John, and has been too involved with her own mother and cousin. Nettie is stunned by the verbal assault. Start, Nettie: “Now what was that all about?” End, Nettie: “Thank you for the roses.”


by Jon Robin Baitz (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 48-55, Issac Geldhart (60s) and Marge Hackett (50s)

Marge Hackett, a psychiatric social worker, is sent by Issac Geldhart’s children to determine whether he is competent to manage his own affairs. It turns out that Marge and Issac have much in common. Start, Marge: “We usually do this at the office. It took a bending of the rules.” End, Marge: “I’m not from Sotheby and I should be here. Goodbye, Mr. Geldhart.”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Part I, Scene 1, pp. 14-19, Alma (25-29) and John (25-29)

John teases Alma for “putting on airs,” and she gets angry. Then they make up. Start, Alma: “What book is she talking about?” End, John: “Get one!”

Drama: Part I, Scene 7, pp. 45-51, Alma (25-29) and John (25-29)

John and Alma are on a date, and he wants to go to the cockfights at the Moonlight Casino. When Alma won’t hear of it, they argue and she leaves. For scene-study purposes, eliminate Dusty, the waiter. Start, John: “I don’t understand why we can’t go in the casino.” End, Alma: “You’re not a gentleman.”

Drama: Part II, Scene 5, pp. 69-75, Alma (25-29) and John (25-29)

Alma comes to John’s office to let him know that she loves him and is now willing to sleep with him. She discovers that he has changed his mind, however, and that it is too late. Time has passed them by. Start, Alma: “No greetings? No greetings at all?” End, John: “I’ll write a prescription for you.”


by David Ives (All in the Timing: Six One-Act Comedies, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 13-21, Bill (mid-20s) and Betty (mid-20s)

Bill and Betty meet in a café and fall in love. What makes this scene so delicious to play is the inclusion of an offstage bell-ringer. Every time Bill or Betty make a false start, a gaffe or faux pas, the offstage bell rings. They do not acknowledge the sound of the bell, but every time it rings, it causes them to back up and start again. Everything is in the timing. Make sure you get somebody sharp to ring the bell offstage. And make sure the bell is loud enough to be heard by the audience. Keep the pace brisk. Start, Bill: “Excuse me. Is this chair taken?” End, Bill and Betty together: “Waiter!”


by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, Chance (29) and Aunt Nonnie (35-45)

Aunt Nonnie tries to get Chance to leave town before Boss Finley’s henchmen hurt him. But Chance is sinking more deeply into a drug-induced haze and only wants to talk about his love for Heavenly. Start, Aunt Nonnie: “I’ve got just one thing to tell you, Chance. Get out of St. Cloud.” End, Aunt Nonnie: “I’ll write to you. Send me an address. I’ll write to you.” (This scene does not appear in the Dramatists Play Service acting edition, but you can find it in earlier library compilations.)


by A. R. Gurney (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 26-30, Greg (45-55), Sylvia (a dog, 20-30)

Greg takes Sylvia for a nighttime stroll in Central Park. He speaks to her of philosophical things, which she of course does not understand. Then she sees a cat and, like dogs everywhere, wants to tear its head off. What’s funny about this scene is the shift in mood from quiet philosophical conversation to the no-holds-barred profane pursuit of the cat. Start, Greg: “Know something? I’m beginning to like these late night walks, Sylvia.…” End, Greg: “Surprise me, Sylvia. Surprise me.”

Comedy: Act II, pp. 63-68, Greg (45-55), Sylvia (a dog, 20-30)

Greg has finally given in to his wife’s demands and has arranged to give Sylvia to a family in the country. In this scene, he tells Sylvia that she has to go. Start, Greg: “You look particularly glamorous today, Sylvia.” End, Sylvia: “…After all, her majesty won’t be there to object.”


by José Rivera (Ten-Minute Plays: Volume 3 from Actors Theatre of Louisville, Samuel French)

Comedy: One-act play, Male (any age) and Female (any age)

The setting is purgatory, a dimly lit room with nothing in it except a table, a tape recorder, a glass, and a pitcher of water. The man is there to listen to tape recordings of every lie he ever told in his life. He learns that there are ten thousand boxes of tapes. By the way, with a slight script alteration, these roles could easily be played by two actors of the same sex.


by Shelagh Delaney (Grove Press)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, Jo (17) and Boy (22)

Jo finds romance with a sailor. In her mind, Boy is a black prince of mysterious origins. And in Boy’s mind, Jo is a delightful convenience while he is in port. They haven’t been intimate yet, but they will be. A sexual charge is in the air. Written in the British vernacular. Start, Jo: “I’d better go now. Thanks for carrying my books.” End, Jo: “Because you’re daft.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, Jo (17) and Geoffrey (20s)

Geoffrey, a homosexual student, has moved in with Jo to care for her during her pregnancy. As this scene begins, they’ve been living together for about two months, and she isn’t looking forward to motherhood. Although there is no sexual attraction between Geoff and Jo, he would love to be a father. He kisses her, trying to get something started, but it is hopeless. An excellent six-page scene for two people trying to define the parameters of their relationship. Written in the British vernacular. Start, Jo: “God, it’s hot.” End, Jo: “I don’t suppose so.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, Jo (17) and Geoffrey (20s)

Jo, who is in her ninth month of pregnancy, is still unhappy about having a baby. Geoffrey wants to marry her, even though he is gay. Written in the British vernacular. Start, Jo: “Ninth month, everything should now be in readiness for the little stranger.” End, Jo: “I think I’ll give it to you, Geoff. You like babies, don’t you? I might call it Number One. It’ll always be number one to itself.”


by Paddy Chayefsky (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act III, pp. 78-82, Evelyn (18) and Arthur (30s)

As Arthur and Evelyn await final preparations for her exorcism, she tells him that she has fallen in love with him. Arthur says that this is impossible for several reasons. They’ve known each other for only five hours, he doesn’t believe in love, and, at any rate, she is schizophrenic and doesn’t know her own mind. When Evelyn insists, Arthur resists. Still, there is a very strong attraction between them. Eliminate the group of elderly Jewish men eavesdropping on this scene from an adjacent room. Start, Evelyn: “I am very frightened, Arthur.” End, Evelyn: “We could be very happy if you would have faith in me.”


by William Saroyan (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 55-60, Joe (25-35) and Mary (25-35)

Mary is “an unhappy woman of quality and great beauty.” Joe is a man trying to lead a life in which he doesn’t hurt anybody. They meet in Nick’s waterfront bar in 1939. Joe and Mary are attracted to one another but after this conversation in which they speak of life and philosophy, she leaves, never to return. A wonderfully poetic scene, classic Saroyan. Start, Joe: “Is it Madge—Laubowitz?” End, Joe: “Good-bye.”


by Eugene O’Neill (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Nora (40) and Melody (45)

Cornelius Melody, one of Eugene O’Neill’s most colorful characters, has an ambivalent relationship with Nora, his wife. He loves her deeply, but he is ashamed of her working-class roots. During this scene, Melody remembers that today is the anniversary of his war victories and decides to celebrate. Nora has a slight Irish brogue. Start, Melody: “Good morning, Nora.” End, Melody: “Yes! In a while. Fifteen minutes, say. But leave me alone now.”

Drama: Act I, Sara (20) and Melody (45)

Sara’s contempt for her father is barely disguised when she discovers him preening in front of a mirror. She is on her way to beg Neilan the storekeeper for more credit in her father’s name, resenting every moment of the humiliating task. Father and daughter discuss the possibilities of her romance with wealthy young Harford, who is recovering from an illness in an upstairs room. Melody wants them to marry so that he can get some of Harford’s family money. Start, Melody: “Thank God, I still bear the unmistakable stamp of an officer and a gentleman.” End, Sara: “Father! Will you never let yourself wake up—not even now when you’re sober, or nearly?”

Drama: Act III, Sara (20) and Melody (45)

Still devising ways to get his hands on young Harford’s family money, Melody tells Sara that he has talked to the fellow, prodding him to make a marriage commitment and a financial “settlement.” Sara is, of course, outraged by this development. In this scene, Melody is supposed to be wearing his old military uniform, a garment that somewhat transforms him into the strong, daring soldier he used to be. Such a costume is rarely practical for workshops, but the actor playing this role should make some kind of appropriate substitution. Start, Sara: “You’re drunk. If you think I’m going to stay here and listen to…” End, Melody: “I believe I have said all I wished to say to you. If you will excuse me, I shall join Corporal Cregan.”


by Gardner McKay (Samuel French)

This two-character, two-act drama turns on whether or not Peter is actually a serial mutilator/rapist, an actor doing a weird acting exercise, a voyeur, or all of the above. He terrorizes Maude, a psychiatrist, in her Hollywood Hills home. Peter sends her through extreme emotional peaks and valleys. First, he makes her think that she is about to die; then he tells her that he was only joking, that the whole thing is an acting exercise, and then he seduces her. The next morning he tells her that he is in fact the real criminal after all. The later scenes are more difficult for the actress because of all the accumulating and emotionally draining transitions. Maude is alternately terrorized and relieved, to the point that she becomes disoriented.

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 14-24, Maude (30s) and Peter (20s)

Peter makes his first entrance into Maude’s house. He is going to make a telephone call, and she thinks he is a strange but helpful biker who did her a favor earlier in the day. This expository scene is worth doing for the subtext it creates. Maude is wary of strangers because of the highly publicized stalker on the loose, and Peter, alias Toyer, is looking for victim number 12. Start, Peter: “This is fun.” End, Maude: “I am an expert.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 26-37, Maude (30s) and Peter (20s)

Peter has made a fake call to the police to report a voyeur. He acts as though he is going to leave and then suddenly admits that he is, in fact, the voyeur. Danger hangs in the air. Peter then tells Maude that he loves her. As a psychiatrist, Maude has firsthand knowledge of scopophilia (voyeurism), so she strikes a deal with Peter. She’ll let him watch her undress if he’ll leave. He agrees, and she takes off her blouse and bra, allowing him to watch in a mirror. But as Peter puts his hand on the doorknob to leave, he turns and admits that he is actually Toyer. Start, Peter: “Maybe I’d better go.” End, Peter: “Yeah. Really. You sure are. Sort of.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 37-45, Maude (30s) and Peter (20s)

This excerpt, which runs for eight pages, begins with Maude believing that Peter is Toyer. She is in fear for her life. As she emotionally collapses into tears, he jumps up gaily and says it was all a joke, that he is really only an actor doing an elaborate acting exercise. Doubtful at first, Maude slowly comes to believe him. Then, just as Peter is about to leave, he changes course again, saying that he is, after all, Toyer. Start, Peter: “I’m always touched by someone I can completely control.” End, Peter: “I love you.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 52-60, Maude (30s) and Peter (20s)

Maude has turned the lights off, grabbed a knife, and cut Peter on his arm. Suddenly, he is docile again, claiming the stunt was a joke and that he is afraid of blood. She feels sorry for him, treats his wound, and apologizes for having injured him. They drink some liquor, start dancing, undress each other, and head for the bedroom. You can eliminate the nudity from this eight-page scene. Start, Peter: “You still hate me.” End, Maude (offstage): “Where are you?”

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 63-70, Maude (30s) and Peter (20s)

The next morning, Maude discovers that Peter actually is, after all, Toyer. He tries to give her an animal tranquilizer, and she pretends to drink it while she slips him some powerful tranquilizers of her own. Then she fakes the effects of the poison she supposedly ingested while he gets excited by her becoming incapacitated. As Peter starts marking Maude’s neck with a magic marker, preparing to sever her spinal cord, the stuff she gave him kicks in, and he collapses. She jumps up and ties him to a chair. Now that she is utterly distraught, she decides to sever his spinal cord—just as he did to all those other women. As the curtain falls on this climactic scene, Maude is reaching for the knife. Start, Maude: “How do you like it?” End, Maude: “I’m sorry for you, Peter, dreadfully sorry for what I’m about to do.”


by Bernard Slade (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 43-48, Maggie (mid-40s) and Scottie (51)

Scottie reluctantly shares his true feelings with Maggie, his ex-wife, about being terminally ill. She comforts him in a scene filled with laughter and tears, after which they fall into a romantic embrace. Start, Scottie: “Hello, Operator—Hi there, how are you?” End, Scottie: “Times have changed. I used to laugh you into bed.”


by John Bishop (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 82-87, Bobby (37) and Barbara (39)

Depressed by the state of his life, Bobby has been driving around Mansfield. He winds up at his brother’s home, where he is staying. He finds himself alone with his brother’s wife, Barbara. After they commiserate, they recall how hot they used to be for each other back in their dating days. Bobby and Barbara then fall into one another’s arms. At the end of the scene, it appears as if they are about to go upstairs and make love. But they don’t. Start, Barbara: “What are you doing here?” End, Barbara: “Oh, Christ, I’ve wanted you for so long. Upstairs. All right?”


by Tennessee Williams (The Theater of Tennessee Williams, Volume 6; New Directions)

Drama: Scene 2, Silva Vicarro (35-50) and Flora Meighan (35-45)

Silva Vicarro, the manager of the Syndicate Plantation, is alone on the porch with Flora Meighan, Jake’s uneducated, childlike wife. She quickly lets it slip that her husband is the one who set the big fire last night, burning down Silva’s cotton gin. Silva responds by cruelly seducing the woman, who behaves much like a trapped animal. The erotic buildup in this fifteen-page scene is slow and deadly, difficult to shorten, and appropriate for sophisticated actors. These characters are rural, earthy, sweaty, dusty, and raw. Start, Silva: “The good-neighbor policy!” End, Flora: “Don’t follow. Please don’t follow!”


by Murray Schisgal (Samuel French)

Comedy: “A Need for Brussels Sprouts” pp. 13-20, Margaret (40s) and Leon (50s)

Leon is a New York actor who has been practicing for an upcoming commercial audition in which he must mime an opera singer. His upstairs neighbor has complained about the volume of his opera tapes to no avail. Margaret, a police officer, knocks on the door and gives Leon a summons for disturbing the peace. It turns out that she is actually the upstairs neighbor. After the initial shock, Leon and Margaret begin to establish a relationship that, very soon, will result in true love. You’ll need a recording of Tosca and, ideally, a recording of a dog barking. If you can’t get the latter, simply omit the reference to it. Start, Margaret: “Are you the tenant of this apartment?” End, Margaret: “Margaret, Margaret Heinz.”

Comedy: “A Need for Brussels Sprouts,” pp. 28-33, Margaret (40s) and Leon (50s)

Margaret is role-playing with Leon. She is a judge, and he is going to testify about his three failed marriages. Start, Leon: “Margie, all men aren’t the same.” End, Margaret: “If you can’t stand the heat, mister, stay out of the kitchen.”

Comedy: “A Need for Less Expertise,” pp. 54-60, Edie (50s) and Gus (50s)

Edie and Gus have been married for twenty-six years, live on the East Side of New York, and are experiencing sexual difficulties. The main problem is that he isn’t interested. Edie has been spending a great deal of money on therapy, self-help groups, and sexual-advice gurus. Today, she has convinced Gus to grudgingly follow the recorded instructions of one Dr. Oliovsky. After a while, Gus quits in disgust, and Edie begins to sulk. In this excerpt, he confronts her, and they rehash their problems. Start, Gus: “I don’t know what the hell is going on. Every week, you find a reason to start a fight.” End, Gus: “Be fair now, Edie. You have to be fair, too. Didn’t I tell you to get a job?”


by Lee Blessing (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 16-20, Lainie Wells (30s) and Walker Harris (30s)

Walker Harris is a newspaperman who wants Lainie Wells to go public with the story of her husband’s kidnapping in Beirut and her subsequent painful vigil. Although she is supposed to be showing him slides, you can substitute a photo album. Start, Lainie: “This is a hotel in Beirut near where he lives.” End, Lainie: “Get out! If I want to see a scavenger, I’ll go to the marsh.”


by Neal Bell (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 14-17, Eileen Mahoney (late 20s) and Lieutenant Brann (40s)

Lieutenant Brann has been investigating the disappearance of Eileen Mahoney’s children for some time when he drops by her place for a talk. By now, she is close to the edge and fed up with his continual probing. Tension, including vaguely sexual, bristles between them. Start, Lieutenant Brann: “Nice night.” End, Eileen: “Do you know what I mean?”

Drama: Act I, Scene 6, pp. 17-20, Eileen Mahoney (late 20s) and Lieutenant Brann (40s)

Lieutenant Brann changes clothes in front of Eileen Mahoney as they discuss the kidnapping of her children. This scene has more overt hostility than the previous one. You’ll need a table, a tablecloth and unbreakable dishes. As written, Lieutenant Brann has to rip the tablecloth off the table, sending the dishes flying. A gun and shoulder holster would also be useful costuming. Start, Eileen: “What’s that?” End, Lieutenant Brann: “That was a joke, huh? See, I’m catching on.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 8, pp. 23-25, Eileen Mahoney (late 20s) and Lieutenant Brann (40s)

The investigation of her children’s kidnapping is stretching Eileen Mahoney to the breaking point emotionally. Lieutenant Brann is apparently enjoying the tension. Start, Lieutenant Brann: “Let me show you something.” End, Lieutenant Brann: “There are walls and walls.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 26-39, Eileen Mahoney (late 20s) and Lieutenant Brann (40s)

Although Eileen Mahoney’s lawyer advises her not to talk to Lieutenant Brann, they can’t resist each other, and their relationship is becoming erotic. At one point in this scene, Eileen strips to her underwear and, at another point, she places Lieutenant Brann in handcuffs and then massages his shoulders. At the end, he tells her the police have caught her children’s killer, that a man has confessed and that they have positive proof. The question is, Why doesn’t Lieutenant Brann tell Eileen this at the beginning of the scene? Precisely what is the nature of their relationship? This challenging thirteen-page scene is hard to shorten because it contains transitions at several levels. It is best played by experienced actors. Start, Eileen: “Can’t you knock?” End, Lieutenant Brann: “I don’t know.”


by Jeffrey Sweet (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 23-27, Norma Teitel (early 20s) and Leo Greshen (late 60s)

After the original director of a new play suffers a stroke, Leo Greshen replaces him. As a result, the female lead, Norma Silverman, threatens to withdraw. Leo learns that Norma is the daughter of his old crony Benny Silverman, whom he named as a communist sympathizer when testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s. Leo goes to Benny’s Hollywood Hills home, where Norma is staying, to convince her to remain with the production and to make up with Benny. Start, Leo: “Miss Teitel?” End, Leo: “You’re a lot like him, Miss Teitel. By the way, that’s a compliment.”

Drama: One-act play, pp. 48-52, Norma Teitel (early 20s) and Benny Silverman (late 60s)

Norma tries to convince her father that his unwillingness to forgive Leo Greshen is self-destructive. Begin after Leo’s exit. Start, Norma: “Okay, I think I’ve got it now.” Continue to the end of the play. End, Benny: “Norma Teitel is the daughter of actor Benny Silverman.”


by Tennessee Williams (New Directions)

Drama: Part II, Scene 9, Jane (20s) and Tye (25-30)

No one in the rooming house knows that Jane has leukemia, not even her lowlife lover, Tye. So when she receives word from a medical clinic that her blood count “had changed for the worse,” she keeps the news to herself. In this eight-page scene, Jane orders Tye out of her life, citing two reasons. He has begun to shoot heroin again, and she has given up fashion illustration in favor of prostitution. The first reason is true, but the second one probably isn’t. Jane may have toyed with the idea of prostitution, but her primary problem is the blood disease. This terrific scene, which is full of rough material and a great deal of physicality, is best suited for experienced actors. Start, Jane: “Tye, Tye, oh-Christ.” End, Tye: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”


by Arthur Miller (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 24-26, Eddie (40) and Beatrice (40)

Eddie is becoming increasingly jealous of the love affair that is developing between Catherine, his wife’s beautiful seventeen-year-old niece, and Rodolpho, the Sicilian immigrant who is staying with the family. Since Eddie reared Catherine from childhood, however, his relationship with her is parental, and he would never even speak of his secret lust for her. This is the first scene to expose the depth of his conflict. Eddie is so distressed by recent developments that he has stopped making love to Beatrice, his wife. She sees the situation for exactly what it is. Start, Eddie: “It’s after eight.” End, Eddie: “I’ll be in right away. Go ahead.”

Drama: Act I, pp. 29-30, Eddie (40) and Catherine (17)

Eddie finally confronts Catherine about her feelings for Rodolpho, in the course of which she admits she is in love. Eddie warns her that Rodolpho is interested in her only because, through marriage, he can become an American citizen. The truth is, however, that Eddie is jealous. Catherine begins to sob and runs into the house. Start, Catherine: “Why don’t you talk to him, Eddie? He blesses you, and you don’t talk to him hardly.” End, Catherine: “I don’t believe it and I wish to hell you’d stop it.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 45-48, Catherine (17) and Rodolpho (early 20s)

Catherine and Rodolpho are very much in love, but Eddie, her guardian and surrogate father, is deeply jealous and has been trying to break them up. He warns Catherine that Rodolpho is interested in her only because, if she marries him, he’ll get his U.S. citizenship. In this excellent scene, she first entertains the idea of getting married and living in Italy instead of America. When Rodolpho realizes she is questioning his love and motives, he becomes angry. Catherine knows right away that he loves her and that she was wrong to be doubtful. They fall into one another’s arms and then head for the bedroom to make love for the first time. Rodolpho is an Italian immigrant, so an accent would be appropriate. Start, Catherine: “You hungry?” End, Rodolpho: “There’s nobody here now. Come inside. Come…And don’t cry any more.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 52-54, Eddie (40) and Beatrice (40)

Eddie has made an anonymous call to the Immigration Bureau to report Rodolpho and Marco, aware that the men will be deported. It is his last resort in trying to break up the romance between Rodolpho and Catherine. Arriving home, he discovers that the lovers have moved upstairs with Mrs. Dondero. This is a disastrous development, seeing that Mrs. Dondero has two other illegal immigrants living with her, who are sure to be included in the Immigration Bureau sweep. As Eddie suffers for what he has done, Beatrice tells him that Catherine and Rodolpho are getting married right away. This news crushes Eddie even more. Start, Eddie: “Where is everybody? I says where is everybody?” End, Eddie: “I’m goin’, I’m goin’ for a walk.”


by Friedrich Durrenmatt (translated by Patrick Bowles, Grove Press)

Comedy-Drama: Act III, Claire (63) and Schoolmaster (40-55)

The schoolmaster tries to convince Claire to withdraw her offer of one million pounds to the citizens of the town if they’ll murder Alfred Ill, the man who done her wrong many years ago. She refuses, explaining that she can make her own rules in the game of life with the money she already has. You’ll have to do a little editing to make this a two-character scene. Eliminate the doctor, perhaps give his lines to the schoolmaster, and eliminate Roby and Toby. Start, Schoolmaster: “Madam.” End, Claire: “Guellen for a murder, a boom for a body.”


by Clifford Odets (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Scene 1, “Joe and Edna,” Edna (30) and Joe (30s)

In 1935, the Depression is making life tough. Joe arrives home to discover that the creditors came today and repossessed all the furniture, and that his wife is threatening to leave him for another man if he can’t become a better provider for the family. The children aren’t eating regularly, their shoes are worn out, and the family is about to fall two months behind in the rent. Joe argues that he is doing his best and tries to give Edna the $1.04 he earned today, but they both know it isn’t enough. At the end of the scene, Joe vows to support a strike action in the hope of winning higher wages for cab drivers. Although the language is very dated now, this play is still powerful, and is unquestionably one of the most significant dramas in American theater history. Start, Joe: “Where’s all the furniture, honey?” End, Joe: “I’ll be back.”

Drama: Scene 3, “The Young Hack and His Girl,” Flor (20s) and Sid (20s)

Flor can’t afford to marry Sid because he doesn’t make enough as a cab driver to support them both. Furthermore, Flor’s immediate family needs the nine dollars she brings home each week. Sid and Flor try to smile through their misery, but it is no use. Sid ends the scene by falling to his knees, sobbing into Flor’s skirt. Start, Sid: “Hello, Florrie.” End, Flor: “Hello honey. You’re looking tired.”


by Philip Kan Gotanda (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 8, pp. 45-47, Masi (67) and Nobu (68)

Masi and Nobu are Nisei, second-generation Japanese American, and have been married for forty-two years. But Masi left Nobu thirteen months ago, has taken up with a new man, and wants to marry him. In this excellent and tense scene, she tells Nobu that she has seen a lawyer and is filing for divorce. It is important to remember that divorce is very unusual among older-generation Nisei. Start, Masi: “I want to talk, Nobu.” End, Masi: “Because I want to be happy, Nobu. I have the right to be happy.”


by Edward Albee (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 5-12, George (46) and Martha (52)

George and his wife, Martha, arrive home after a faculty reception and prepare to entertain Nick, the new young biology professor, and Honey, his wife, who are dropping by for late-night drinks. As the curtain goes up, George and Martha have already been drinking most of the evening and are engaged in their customary verbal sparring. This is definitely the easiest George/Martha scene for workshop use. You’ll need an offstage doorbell. Begin at the top of Act I, and continue until Nick and Honey’s entrance. Start, Martha: “Jesus…” End, Martha: “Screw you!”

Drama: Act II, pp. 71-75, George (46) and Martha (52)

George has completely humiliated Honey, who has once again headed for the bathroom to throw up. Nick furiously goes to comfort her, leaving George and Martha alone. The verbal warfare between the pair escalates. Begin after Nick’s exit. Start, Martha: “Very good, George.” George: “Thank you, Martha.” Stop just before Nick reenters. End, George: “Total war?” Martha: “Total.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 82-85, George (46) and Honey (26)

During the last moments of Act II, Martha humiliates George by making out with Nick in the kitchen. Honey comes out of the bathroom, weak, still drunk, and vulnerable, and George berates her. Then he gets the notion of telling Honey that his and his wife Martha’s “son” has died. Begin as Honey enters, and continue to the end of the act. Start, Honey: “Bells. Ringing. I’ve been hearing bells.” End, George: “…It’s about our…son. He’s dead. Can you hear me, Martha? Our boy is dead.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 86-91, Martha (52) and Nick (30)

Martha took Nick to her bedroom to have sex, but he was unable to perform because he was too drunk. Now back in the living room and deep in her own alcoholic haze, Martha belittles him for his impotence and says that George is the only man who has ever made her happy. You’ll need an offstage doorbell. Begin at the top of the act, and stop when George arrives with flowers. Start, Martha: “Hey, hey…Where is everybody…?” End, Nick: “Christ.”


by Brian Clark (Dramatic Publishing Company)

Drama: Act I, Ken Harrison (35-45) and Mrs. Boyle (35)

Mrs. Boyle, a medical social worker, is sent to see Ken because the hospital staff thinks he is depressed. In this first encounter between them, he tells Mrs. Boyle that he chooses not to go on living with his physical limitations. (He is paralyzed from the neck down.) Start, Mrs. Boyle: “Good morning.” End, Ken: “Go…For God’s sake get out…Go on…Get out…Get out.”

Drama: Act I, Ken Harrison (35-45) and Dr. Scott (25-30)

Ken became angry during his meeting with the medical social worker, and the nurses had to give him oxygen to breathe. As he calms down, Dr. Scott enters to find out what is going on. During this scene, Ken tells her what it is like to still have sexual desires and not be able to act on them. Start, Dr. Scott: “And what was all the fuss about?” End, Ken: “You still have lovely breasts.”


by Michael Frayn (adapted from an early, untitled play by Anton Chekhov; Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 49-51, Anna Petrovna (late 20s) and Platonov (28-32)

Along with Platonov in the garden, Anna Petrovna suddenly declares her love for him. He resists, admitting his attraction to her but worried about the threat to his marriage. Start, Anna Petrovna: “And here he is. Our philosopher. Shunning us all.” Stop with Platonov’s exit. End, Anna Petrovna: “Intolerable man! Come back here! Misha! Misha!”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 61-64, Anna Petrovna (late 20s) and Platonov (28-32)

Anna Petrovna continues her attempted seduction of Platonov, and he continues to resist, although less enthusiastically now. This scene is a little stronger than their Act I encounter. Start, Anna Petrovna: “Platonov! I knew you wouldn’t be asleep. How can anyone sleep on a night like this?” End, Anna Petrovna: “To the old summerhouse!” For a longer version, eliminate Sasha’s offstage lines and end, Anna Petrovna: “…I’ll come in and fetch you.”

Comedy Act II, Scene 2, pp. 77-81, Sofya (early 20s) and Platonov (28-32)

Sofya and Platonov were lovers back in their university days but are now married to other partners. During a night of mad love and confusion three weeks ago, they started an affair. Platonov’s wife, who mistakenly believes he has become involved with Anna Petrovna, left him and took the baby. Since then, he has hung around the house in something of a drunken stupor. In this scene, Sofya convinces Platonov to run away with her, an option he accepts unenthusiastically. She surprises him by saying that she has told her newlywed husband of their affair. Start, Sofya: “Platonov! Wake up!” End, Sofya: “I’ve got some money—we’ll eat on the way. And smarten yourself up a bit for the journey!”

Comedy: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 89-95, Anna Petrovna (late 20s) and Platonov (28-32)

Anna Petrovna doesn’t realize that Platonov has begun an affair with her daughter-in-law, Sofya. Anna Petrovna seeks him out, wanting to know why he hasn’t been responding to her letters. Then she suggests a plan that has them running away together. Platonov, for his part, is miserable with all this romance and primarily wants to reunite with his wife. Start, Anna Petrovna: “Come here, Platonov. Why are you running away from me?” End, Anna Petrovna: “He can easily give me some of it. That’s all we need, my love.”


by Margaret Edson (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 7-12, Vivian (50) and Dr. Kelekian (50)

Begin at the very top of the play, where Vivian steps out and introduces herself to the audience. After her initial speech, we go into a flashback vignette in which Dr. Kelekian first tells Vivian that she has cancer. It is not a long scene but is worth working on because of the shock of the news and the interaction between the two. Begin, Vivian: “Hi. How are you feeling today?” End with Vivian’s speech after Kelekian exits. Vivian: “That is why I chose, while a student of the great E. M. Ashford, to study Donne.”


by William Mastrosimone (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 5-12, Rosie (mid-20s) and Cliff (25-35)

Cliff picks up Rosie and goes back to her place, hoping for a one-night stand. The evening doesn’t go as planned, however, and she turns out to be just a little bit strange. Start, Rosie: “And there was this girl…She was a poet.” End, Cliff: “How would you know if the boards were up when you moved in?”

Comedy-Drama: Act I, pp. 38-45, Rosie (mid-20s) and Cliff (25-35)

Cliff gets frustrated with Rosie’s avoidance of intimacy, decides that she is something of a fruit, and leaves. As he does, she asks if she can keep his sweater. Start, Cliff: “Someday I’m gonna take you cross country in my truck.” End, Cliff: “Me? Cold? Hey, Rosie, you’re lookin’ at the only survivor of the Great Ice Age.”