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High school plays - what shows are you doing and have you done?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Sayen, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Every year it seems like I'm reading through stacks of bad plays looking for something new. I get tired of plays that are over produced, even if they're still new to the students. Really, does anyone need to see Arsenic and Old Lace again? I had a list started on my computer that I was tracking by surfing different school websites, but I seem to have lost it.

    Anyone who's tried to plan a high school season knows there isn't a great deal of material out there that is school appropriate, offers decent female roles, is reasonably current, and doesn't stink.

    So...what plays did you do in high school? Those of you in high school, what are you doing / have you done? I'm mostly looking for non-musicals, but I'd love to hear some seasons out there. Other theater teachers frequently ask me this as well, so a list might be of value.
  2. tech2000

    tech2000 Member

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    We just did Noises Off last Spring.
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Yes, they do!--exactly for the reason that they are new to the students and young audiences. You Can't Take It With You, Wait Until Dark, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Harvey, any Neil Simon comedy, any Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neil, Tennessee Williams have all stood the test of time and many are just as pertinent today, and NOT exposing your students to the Great American Classics, even though YOU'VE seen/done them to death, is a disservice.
  4. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Member

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    A play that my school did 2 years ago was Rehearsal for Murder which is based on the movie of the same name by Richard Levinson and William Link. It is a very good show, and all of us involved really enjoyed working on it. Its a murder mystery, and has a some-what surprise ending. You can read it on google books. Edit: You can read parts of the play on google books, some pages are missing.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2009
  5. hhslights

    hhslights Member

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    I am in high school and I have been a part of

    High School Musical
    The Man Who Corrupted Haddleyburg
    Hello Dolly

    Going to be doing

    Pride and Prejudice
    Alice in Wonderland
    Beauty and the Beast

    Has been done but I have not been a part of

    The Legend of Sleepy Hallow
    12 Angry Jurors (men)
  6. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I wouldn't write any of those plays off completely - but when three schools in a local district all did Arsenic in the same year, there's a problem. There are plenty of good playwrights out there, and plenty of modern classics to be explored. We've hit all of the authors you mentioned except Williams, and that's partially due to the limited appropriateness of his works. We read Glass Menagerie, but we owe audiences better than just classics.

    Harvey is a potential on my list, if it helps redeem me at all.
  7. MSLD

    MSLD Member

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    We have done Meet Me in St. Louis
  8. MillburyAuditorium

    MillburyAuditorium Member

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    Since I have been in charge of the schools theatre, we have done, in order

    Oklahoma
    The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree (My favorite!)
    The Princess and the Pea (Or I think its called something else...)
    Guys and Dolls
    The Wizard of Oz
    Get Up and Go! (Junior kids did that one.)
    Back to the 80's The totally awesome musical! (Was a good one)
    Bedside Manor (I have to say was the worst play we have ever done. Not that acting was bad, was actually pretty good, but the plot and the play itself was kind of blah.)

    Might be missing one or two.
  9. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I should add some of what I've done. Off the top of my head:

    House of Blue Leaves
    Get Smart
    Curious Savage
    Crucible
    Arsenic and Old Lace
    Importance of Being Ernest - hit a little to close to home with my population
    Noises Off - fun, too inappropriate
    Macbeth
    Midsummer Night's Dream
    Steel Magnolias
    The Philadelphia
    Blyth Spirit
    Skin of Our Teeth
    Miracle Worker
    Crimes of the Heart
    Thurber Carnival
    2 different Draculas
    Cyrano
    Tartuffe
    12 Angy Jurors/Men
    Beauty and the Beast (non musical)
    Night of January 16 - Highly recommended, audience loved it


    That's without musicals and one acts. At four plays a year though, I'm always looking for more.
  10. misterm

    misterm Member

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    i'm enjoying this thread because i'm getting some new ideas for shows for my group!!
    some we did in high school/college/current teaching position that were different but good:
    Shadowlands
    The Curious Savage (or its sequel, The Savage Dilemma, which is actually funnier)
    The Right to Remain Silent
    The Imaginary Invalid
    The King Stag
    The Diviners
    A Bad Year for Tomatoes
    The Boys Next Door

    We also do a yearly night of one-acts where we feature 2 to 3 plays, one of which is our competition piece. Lots of fun because you get to work with a lot of new students and find new talent and do some fun short plays without getting burned out.
  11. Seldred

    Seldred New Member

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    What a great thread! I run a HS theater program, and am always mired in the problem of finding plays that a) deal with issues that are compelling to students and their families, b) have good female roles, c) are castable in "non-traditional" ways, and d) bring in audiences.

    We normally do 3 productions a year - a classical (usually Shakespeare), a modern, and a musical. Our recent classical productions:

    Taming of the Shrew
    The Lady's not for Burning (a verse play written in the 40's but set in 14th century England)
    12th Night
    Constance Congdon's adaptation of Moliere's "The Imaginary Invalid" - only do this play if you like fart jokes!
    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    As You Like It

    Recent "modern" plays:

    The Rimers of Eldritch, by Lanford Wilson - 17 characters, ensemble piece, powerful melodrama about hypocrisy in small-town life.

    On the Verge, by Eric Overmyer - smaller cast, but 3 terrific lead female roles! Very funny, very witty, very imaginative journey by 3 "victorian" explorers who somehow magically wind up in a lounge bar in the middle of the 20th Century.

    The Madwoman of Chaillot, by Jean Giraudoux. Once again, GREAT female roles. Very topical for this year's Wall Street headlines. A beautiful romance set in Paris in the late 1940's. There are about 35 roles, which should be doubled down to about 25 actors. I made the mistake of casting 35 actors - don't do it!

    All In the Timing, by David Ives - this is a collection of 6 One-Acts that becomes a full-length theatrical entertainment (he's since written another 8). This was our biggest hit in years - VERY funny, very diverse, and even better - very easy to rehearse because students are only cast in 1 one act and only have to show up to rehearse that one. We're taking a hint from this and trying out a "1-act fest" for this year's winter production.

    Our recent musicals:

    Cabaret
    West Side Story
    The Wizard of Oz (on 100th anniversary)
    A Chorus Line
    Anything Goes
    Sweet Charity (a surprising hit!)
    This year, we'll do "Bye Bye Birdie".
  12. Seldred

    Seldred New Member

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    Oh! I forgot to mention a terrific resource that we're looking at very seriously for future productions - the plays of Charles Mee - particularly those plays that are part of his "re-making project". Mee has written a number of very imaginative, very playable adaptations of obscure classics. They are re-imagined in quirky, contemporary forms. The entire scripts are posted online, here:

    the plays

    Please look around his website to learn more about what he's doing - it's fascinating!
  13. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I do a couple of one act festivals as well, when I can stomache one acts. So many of them are very preachy. I've moved to having students write most of those.

    A great short script dealing with teen social issues is And Stuff, the follow up to the less compelling Voices from the High School. Students and adults liked And Stuff.
  14. ReiRei

    ReiRei Member

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    The first show I ever did in high school was The Spoon River Anthology. This was when I was thrust into theatre by my friends. I didn't like it at all and I don't suggest it. I did costumes and every time I went up to watch for wardrobe malfunctions I went back down to our dressing room wanting to hang myself.

    My first REAL season consisted of just Little Shop of Horrors and Beauty and the Beast. Little Shop will always be my most favorite show that I have ever done. It's pretty catchy. Though BatB is a little cliche it's GREAT for bringing in big crowds because think about it... little children MUST come see BatB live with their parents. Plus it's a good musical to have a big cast in.

    My second and last season at my high school consisted of Company of Wayward Saints, The Pajama Game, and Anatomy of Gray. Company was a good show but it's a cast of fifteen at the most, and it's not very tech heavy. While it's a fun show to do I wouldn't really suggest it. Pajama Game was a good show with a good amount of ensemble and whatnot. It was NOT my favorite show for my own personal reasons but I would suggest it to other people. Anatomy was a pretty good show too, I wasn't around for much else but the lighting calls so I can't really say too much about it. When I saw the first half though I thought that it was pretty good.
  15. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Due to budget restrictions and program needs we rotate through types of shows each season. This year we are doing:

    Pride & Prejudice (adaption by Jon Jory. EXCELLENT adaptaion, great script for those looking for strong female roles. Available through Playscripts.com)
    War at Home: Students Respond to September 11th
    Bleacher Bums


    Last season:
    Charlottes Web (Middle School Production)
    Story Theatre (One Act)
    Guys & Dolls

    Going into the past you'll see the headache I deal with. For our Middle School production, I am hands off on the play selection, and usually they are the horrid stuff (in my opinion) from Pioneer Drama, usually written by Tim Kelly. I officially banned Kelly as a playwright to be performed in our space. One Director I work with only knows Neil Simon (see below). I have been pushing more edgy stuff in our One Acts and have had great response on them. Don't fall into the trap that you have to do High School "Issue" plays as your One Acts. Anyway, here's my list from 1999 on:
    The Hobbit
    Bury the Dead (One Act)
    Footloose
    Arsenic & Old Lace
    The Good Doctor (One Act)
    Music Man
    How The West was Done (Middle School Production)
    The Grapes of Wrath
    A Christmas Carol
    Don't Drink the Water
    Becoming Arthur (One Act)
    Godspell
    Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (Middle School)
    Fortress (One Act)
    Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    Jungle Book (Middle School)
    Ducktails & Bobbysox (Middle School)
    You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
    Bullshot Crummond (One Act)
    Brighton Beach Memoirs
    Beauty & the Beast (Not Disney, Middle School)
    The Diviners
    The Wizard of Oz (RSC)
    California Suite
    Get Smart (Middle School)
    Once Upon a Mattress
    Much Ado About Nothing
    The Mousetrap
    The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe (Middle School)
    Final Dress Rehearsal (One Act)
    Class Action (One Act)
    Bye Bye Birdie
    The Glass Menagerie
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Annie
  16. misterm

    misterm Member

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    Yeah, its hard to find good one-act plays that of any decent quality that aren't preachy or written specifically for that playwright's school. i've gotten where i search out older ones that arent in print anymore, like "The Valiant" or "Mannequin's Demise." we can't afford a big musical every year so we try to do smaller ones (which are usually just as fun and well-written!). recently, i started doing playwriting jams with the students with the possibility of performing the better ones they write.
  17. Dionysus

    Dionysus Active Member

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    Back in Highschool, off the top of my head:

    The Compleat Works of Wllm. Shakespeare (abridged)

    Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare

    The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus; By: Christopher Marlowe, adapted by Warren Robinson. This has now been published for high-school use, including some of our original production notes

    The Orestia by: Aeschylus Adapted by: Warren Robinson, I think this may also be available now.

    Fiddler on the Roof, MTI

    Triple header "Trigon" : Heroes, Martine Continued & All show (I believe all student written one-acts)

    Lysistrata by: Aristophanes, Adapted by: Warren Robinson. Possibly also available published.

    That's all that jumps to mind.
  18. Arez

    Arez The Royal Renaissance Man Premium Member

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    The Tragedy of Richard II, By Robert J. Myers.

    "The life and times of Richard II (1367-1400), King of England (13&&-1399)
    Compared to those of Richard of America in His Second Administration"

    ISBN 87491-371-3 (cloth)
    ISBN 87491-372-1 (paper)

    You know you want to...
  19. Jinglish

    Jinglish Member

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    Well, when I started doing lights my sophomore year, we did Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, The Foreigner (my favorite of our plays so far), and Beauty and the Beast as our spring musical. The year before that consisted of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Fiddler on the Roof. Last year had Romeo and Juliet and The Music Man, and next year we're doing Into the Woods as the spring musical; we're still not quite sure what we're doing in the fall and/or winter.
  20. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    How did you pull off Lysistrata in a high school? I've heard of colleges not liking the sexual content.

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