|This is me, your friendly host, Bobby Keniston|
How do I know these plays I'm about to list are perfect for high school play competitions? Because I wrote them!
Now, before you get the idea that I'm some kind of self-serving playwright, I want to assure you that I am also high school drama teacher who LOVES one act play competitions. I always participated in them when I was a student, and I find the program incredibly valuable now. One Act plays provide a deep potential for the education of student actors. And I wrote each of these plays I am about the list with the intention of them being solid One Act competition plays.
Heck, I wrote them to be WINNING competition plays!
So, the title of each play will also be a link to read more or order the play. If you like the synopsis, click on the play title to go to its official page and read a script preview if you like.
Note: I am listing these plays in the order in which I wrote them, not in any other kind of "superlative" order.
CONFESSION: KAFKA IN HIGH SCHOOL
* available from Playscripts, Inc. 5 males, 4 females, simple unit set
Model student Connor K. wakes up one morning to find himself in his high school's conference room, being interrogated by the principal. How he got there, Connor doesn't know, but the principal is insistent that the only way out of the room is for Connor to confess to a crime that he couldn't have committed -- in fact, he doesn't even know what he is being accused of! Only ever meaning to be a good student, he learns that sometimes you have to speak up for yourself against injustice. This new twist on Kafka's The Trial brings the absurdism and existentialism of his work to high school with keen insight and dark humor.
Note: This play has been used to great success in one act competitions in the U.S. and Canada since 2010!
*available from Brooklyn Publishers Flexible cast of 20, simple set
Dennis, an average guy, is caught littering by Dana, a “concerned citizen” who places him under Citizen's Arrest. While Dennis attempts to keep friendly about the situation, Dana stops every passerby to play a part in her "citizen's trial." Before he even knows what's happening, Dennis finds himself facing an out-of-work actress District Attorney, an ornery office temp Judge, a Jane Austen-obsessed construction worker Bailiff, and his own coffee shop employee Defense Attorney. As the "trial" progresses, a disgruntled tour group becomes the jury. Will Dennis be found not guilty at his "citizen's trial," or will he become victim to the will of the people? With plenty of laughs, mild social commentary, and a surprise ending, "Citizen's Arrest" is a perfect competition piece for high schools, and yet is simple enough to delight even at the middle school level. With twenty lively characters and one simple set, “Citizen's Arrest” is easy to stage and a hoot to perform!
Note: Perfect to accommodate a large cast!
I DON'T MIND THAT YOU'RE UGLY
* available from Brooklyn Publishers 4 males, 5 females, simple unit set
Clyde is waiting at “The Only Fancy Restaurant in Town,” anxious to propose to his beautiful girlfriend, Kira. There is only one problem: Clyde is a very average-looking guy. When Kira arrives, looking stunning, Clyde's night is thrown into a whirlwind when everyone in the restaurant wants to gawk at his bride-to-be. When Kira accidentally makes the comment, “I don't mind that you're ugly,” to Clyde, the night really takes off in an unexpected direction. Will Clyde marry the girl of his dreams, or will his relationship be ruined at this wacky restaurant? Including several colorful characters, this one-act romantic comedy is sure to delight and make you say, “Awwww,” all at once!
Note: One of my most produced one acts!
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP BEING AFRAID OF MY GYM TEACHER
*available from Eldridge Plays and Musicals 5 males, 7 females, 4 either, doubling possible, simple sets
Forget the school yard bully! There's always one teacher who can intimidate us! Will, an average high school freshman, used to love going to school…until he stumbled upon the terror of gym class under the formidable Mr. Breakwater's rule. Will's coddling mother and nervous wreck of a father (who hides out in the bathtub) are worried. Will's friends, who call themselves the Geek Squad, want to devise a plan to take Mr. Breakwater down. Can Will find a way to stop being afraid of his gym teacher? With a romance novel-obsessed principal, a jock chorus, and an unorthodox child psychologist, "How I Learned to Stop Being Afraid of My Gym Teacher" is a hilarious comedy with a touching and poignant ending.
Note: My Number 1 produced play across the country!
THE DARK TOWER
* available from Eldridge Plays and Musicals, 5 m, 7 w, or with doubling 5 m, 4 w Simple sets
Roland, a warrior and perhaps the son of a king, has reached the Dark Tower. After years of eschewing death, he seeks nothing but sweet release after lifetimes of wandering the Earth. At the Dark Tower, he is confronted by Three Sisters, each in her own window. While the Amber Sister taunts him, and the Silent Sister pities him, the Dark Sister encourages him to release his burdens by sharing his life story. As Roland travels through his memories, we meet classic characters such as Merlin and Nimue (the Lady of the Lake), as well as his wife, friends, and family that Roland has lost to the Dark Tower. Told in lyrical language and staged simply with theatricality, this adaptation traces the story back to its original roots, incorporating elements of the Arthurian legends, giving a depth and completeness to the tale that has never been seen before.
Note: Also a great piece for community theatres!
FRANKIE AND THE GINGERBREAD BOY (ONE ACT VERSION)
* available from Brooklyn Publishers, 6 females, 5 males, simple settings
Frankie is an outcast, constantly put-upon by her peers. She is the quintessential loner. The only peace she finds is from her baking. One day Frankie decides to bake herself a companion, a perfect love who shares her soul and gives her joy. When her creation follows her to school one day, the social order of the high school is threatened, and the cruelty Frankie has known reaches new heights. Told by an energetic high school Chorus, this is a play that employs rhythm, dark humor, and high theatricality to tell its gripping story. With nods to Frankenstein, the Pygmalion myth, and even the Gingerbread Man nursery rhyme, this play will leave audiences riveted with its poignant tale of love, creation, cruelty, satire and tragedy. This one-act version of Frankie and the Gingerbread Boy is the perfect length for high school competitions.
Note: Perfect social awareness play in regards to bullying!
MY PROM DATE WAS A FELON
available from Brooklyn Publishers, 4 females, 3 males, 1 either, 2 simple sets
Noah doesn't have a date to the prom, which, according to some, means he is missing out on one of the great milestones in his life. Feeling sorry for himself on Prom Night, he decides to get dressed up in a makeshift tuxedo (including the bow tie he has to wear for jazz band), and go out to a fancy restaurant, confronting what he's missing head-on. After a run-in with a rude waitress, he meets Indigo, a girl in a leather jacket and boots who decides to invite herself to dine with him. Indigo is a strange, sweet girl, who may or may not have just broken out of a juvenile detention facility. After Indigo helps him deal with a nasty bully, a smitten Noah asks her to go to the prom. Has Noah finally found the high school sweetheart he's been looking for, or will his prom date be escorted away by the police?
Note: Can be a companion piece to How I Learned to Stop Being Afraid of My Gym Teacher, or stand alone. I have seen this performed at one act competition, and it did very well.
AEROPLANE OVER THE SEA
available from Brooklyn Publishers, 2 females, 3 males, simple settings
A Good Doctor travels to an Unnamed Country that is in desperate need of help. He quickly learns that the government of this country distrusts all Americans, and that he is in great danger from the one called Peacemaker. After a bombing in the streets, the Doctor desperately tries to save the life of an injured girl, only to be apprehended by the Peacemaker on suspicion of terrorism. He is subjected to the questions of a sinister interrogator and then placed in a cell, alone, with only his thoughts of life back at home and the girl he tried so hard to save. This dramatic fairy tale is an emotional story of what it means to be good, and the strength we all have within, even when faced with dire circumstances. Perfect for one act play competitions!
Note: I personally took this play to competitions with my school group to great success (2 acting awards, and a lighting award)
BETTY LOU TWINKLE'S TABLOID SCANDAL
* available from Brooklyn Publishers, 4-5 females, 3-6 males, simple settings
Betty Lou Twinkle wants to be a normal teenage girl and play soccer. Unfortunately, her mother has other ideas. Ever since Betty Lou was a toddler on “Divas in Diapers,” her mother has dragged her to every pageant or reality show she could find, determined to make her little girl the brightest star in the world. After winning “America’s Future One-Hit Wonders,” Betty Lou’s mother hires an obnoxious “Fame Mentor” who claims the only way to stay famous is to have a scandal in the tabloids. Tired of it all, Betty Lou escapes to the park to meet with her secret friend who hides under the bandstand, and appreciates Betty Lou for who she really is. Will Betty Lou find comfort and peace with her secret friend, or is this friend the very tabloid scandal Betty Lou’s mother has been waiting for? This laugh-out-loud satire targets the very notion of teenage fame, stage mothers, and the exploitative nature of the media.
Note: New this school year! You could be the first to produce it!
AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF HIGH SCHOOL DATING
*available from Eldridge Plays and Musicals, 5 males, 5 females, simple unit set
Welcome to "Avoiding the Pitfalls of High School Dating," a seminar for high school students who have trouble going on dates. Your hosts for the evening are Lucky Daye and Starry Knight, two people who have invested their entire life savings into creating this simple system of five "never-fail" rules for dating success. Lenny and Matilda, two outcasts, have been brought in to demonstrate the system by going on a series of speed-dates to bring the five simple rules to life. Through a series of humorous and humiliating scenes and hilarious one-liners, we will see if the system is really all it is cracked up to be, or if Lucky and Starry are in for a long, long night. This one-act comedy is simple to produce, and will keep the audience rolling in the aisles-- even if they came without a date!
Note: Brand new and lots of fun!
Thank you for reading my post today! If you choose to utilize any of the plays on this list for your high school one act play competitions, let me say thank you in advance, and feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!
Have a great school year, and remember--- theater is a sport!
If you're interested, I've started a blog where I'm going to write a story every day for a year. Each story will be between 100-250 words. I call it Micro Fiction Experiment or Bobby's Short Shorts.
CLICK HERE TO READ IT!