Composers and their stage works 


A Place on the Magdalena Flats

Play: Preston Jones. 4 men, 4 women. 2 Interiors (1 Simplified).

The time is 1956; the place a small cattle ranch in drought stricken New Mexico. Carl Grey, a former prisoner of war in World War II, is struggling to make a go of it, battling the elements and worrying about providing for his pregnant wife, Charlene. His problems are not eased by his happy-go-lucky younger brother, Frank, who is often more of a hindrance than a help - and with whom Carl finds himself in growing conflict. Although leavened with humorous scenes involving their colourful neighbours and the denizens of the Busy Bee Cafe, the core of the action focuses on the mounting tension between the two brothers which, despite Charlene's attempts at moderation, ultimately reaches the breaking point when Frank falters at a crucial moment - bringing on an explosive final scene and a split for which there is no longer any hope of reconciliation.
ISBN: 0-8222-0895-4

Planet Fires

Play Thomas Babe. 4 men, 2 women. Unit Set

The action of the play centres on the picaresque adventures of Henry Hitchcock, a Union Army deserter, and Will Hill, a runaway slave with whom Henry has journeyed to the north. They join the travelling circus run by a flamboyant impresario named Bartholomew Van Amburgh, who wants to make Will, the newly freed slave, the centerpiece of his sideshow. A shrewd capitalist ringmaster, Van Amburgh is obsessed with money and machines - the sinister harbinger of the increasingly industrialized nation which will arise from the ashes of the Civil War. The irony of the play is centred on the question of how such "growth and progress" will benefit the country and what quality of life - and freedom - it will provide for its citizens, black and white alike. Along the way Henry and Will encounter, and debate with such personages as Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and even Abraham Lincoln - with results that are both comic and dramatic, and which foreshadow the dilemmas and disorders which we are still struggling to resolve in our own time.
ISBN: 0-8222-0896-2

Play it Again, Sam

Comedy. Woody Allen
M3 (young, 28) F8 (young). A living-room with platform area.

Allan has this thing about Humphrey Bogart. His wife has left him and his friends have been trying to fix him up with beautiful dates, but he is so gauche they always end abysmally. His daydreams of Bogart and the beautiful people are always rudely shattered by real life. And when he falls for his best friend's wife things really seem black. But the homely hero is saved and is left to dream of being greater things.
ISBN 0 573 61404 0

Play On!

Comedy. Rick Abbot
M3 (20, 25) F7 (17, 22, 35, 42, middle-age); or M6 F4 if preferred. A stage in a community theatre.

A theatre group try desperately to put on a play, amid all kinds of maddening interference from its authoress, Phyllis, who keeps revising the script until almost opening night and during the actual performance anything that can go wrong does. At the curtain call Phyllis decides to give a speech on the state of the modern theatre and what befalls her is the madcap climax to this hilarious romp.
ISBN 0 573 61361 3

Play Time

Comedy. Murray Schisgal. 2 men, 3 women. Unit Set.

In a neo-naturalistic, comedic style, integrating original songs, verbal banter, dances and vaudeville turns, Play TIME explores the lives of five contemporary characters in an age of waning convictions. The story told is that of a stockbroker who, in a faustian bargain, agrees to divulge "inside information!' to an enormously successful Wall Street trader. This leads our stockbroker into a series of adventures that transform his personality and his beliefs.
ISBN: 0-8222-1586-1

The Playboy Of the Western World

J.M. Synge
7m 5f extras. Classic tragi-comedy. Single interior set.

A stranger, Christy, arrives in a village bar in the West of Ireland claiming to have killed his father. The locals are impressed - some can even directly relate to the deed - and Christy is lauded as a folk hero. He can't believe his luck, and confidently pursues the affections of the barmaid Pegeen, until the arrival of his not-so-dead father takes the wind out of Christy's sails ... First performed in 1907.
ISBN 1 85459 210 6

Players In a Game

Play Dale Wasserman. 9 men, 5 women. Unit Set

Humane and witty, and appreciative of the pleasures of the flesh and the table, the Bishop of 14th century Prague casts a tolerant eye on the sinful excesses of his rich and self-indulgent parishioners - much to the displeasure of the Pope, then situated in Avignon, France. Bedeviled by gout, the Bishop is especially taken with Richard the Healer, a charming rascal who is notorious for his gambling and wenching but who is the only one able to ease the Bishop's discomfort. Richard also captures the somewhat ambivalent attention of Anna Sarban, an icily beautiful highborn lady who righteously (and perhaps jealously) denounces him to the Grand Inquisitor, Jean Charlier, a sinister young Dominican priest whom the Pope has dispatched to Prague to enforce the ban he has placed on the corrupt Bishop. But Anna's desire for vengeance leads to perilous complications when a group of bumbling dice players and whores (who claim they are only meeting to join in prayer) are also drawn into the Grand Inquisitor's web and, despite Anna's last minute offer to sacrifice herself in their stead, are condemned to be burned at the stake. Angry at this invasion of his authority and determined to gain their release, the Bishop confronts the wily Grand Inquisitor in a gripping, brilliantly constructed scene in which two master strategists manoeuver for advantage, ultimately striking a cynical bargain in which the Bishop, suddenly faced with the threatened loss of his own position, accepts the sacrifice of the condemned "sinners" in order to spare himself, Richard, and the others of his flock for whom the loss of privilege and pleasure would be a burden too onerous to bear.
ISBN: 0-8222-0898-9

Playhouse Creatures

Play. April De Angelis
F5 (16, 20s, 50, 60). Simple settings.

Of vital importance to the development of English drama was the entrance of the first actresses upon the English stage. April De Angelis has taken five actresses- Nell Gwyn, Elizabeth Farley, Rebecca Marshall, Doll Common and Mary Betterton - and given us a fascinating look at the precarious lot of actresses in the Restoration period. A moving and often comic account of a true story, with some earthy language! Period 1669
ISBN 0 573 13007 8

Playing Sinatra

Play. Bernard Kops
M2 F1. A living-room.

A powerful psychological drama set in an oppressive old house in London, where grown-up siblings Norman and Sandra resist their lonely future by living out their fantasies in the music of their idol, Frank Sinatra. Norman, an agoraphobic bookbinder, works at home and heats microwave meals to perfection; Sandra, with outside job and interests, longs to break free of her existence. But the option of leaving her mentally-disturbed brother and running off with the "mystic" Phillip proves less than straightforward ... This tense play's clammy grip never slackens.
ISBN 0 573 01863 4

Playing With Fire (After Frankenstein)

Barbara Field : Drama 5M 1 F Flexible staging

Adapted from Mary Shelley's novel, the play deals with the events which transpire after those usually associated with the Frankenstein story - in this case the final, fateful meeting between Dr Frankenstein and his creation amidst the barren wastes of the North Pole. As the play begins, an exhausted and dying Victor Frankenstein has finally tracked down his Creature in the frozen tundra. Determined to right the wrong he has committed by at last destroying the evil he believes he has created, Frankenstein finds that he must first deal with his own guilt and responsibility - for, as their fascinating confrontation develops, it is evident that the Creature has become a pathetic, lonely and even sensitive being who wants to find only love and that he, Frankenstein, by intruding into the very secrets of life, is truly the evil one. As the two debate, scenes from the past flash by: the doctor's young bride whom the Creature killed when the scientist failed to provide him with a mate of his own; the brilliantly quick-witted Professor Krempe, Frankenstein's mentor; and moments between the youthful Victor and his brother, who also fell victim to the Creature's vengeance. The exchange between the two becomes a confrontation between parent and child, scientist and experiment, rejection and love, even between good and evil, culminating in the Creature's agonising question: "Why did you make me?" It is a question the exhausted Frankenstein can't answer, and as the play ends the Monster lives on, condemned to pass his remaining days in the awful loneliness he has so desperately sought to escape.
ISBN: 0 8222 0889 7

Playing With Fire

Drama. August Strindberg, translated by Michael Meyer. 3 men, 3 women. Unit Set

The play focuses on the triangular relationship of Knut, his wife Kerstin and her lover Axel. When Knut discovers that Kirsten and Axel are strongly drawn to each other he agrees to give up his wife if Axel will marry her. The gesture causes Axel to lose his passion for Kirsten; he leaves hastily and life at the villa returns to normal.

Playing the Wife

Play. Ronald Hayman
M2 (20s, 52) F2 (20s, 40s). A stage.

August Strindberg directs two actors in an autobiographical play detailing his difficult, stormy relationship with his first wife Sid von Essen. Sid is played by Harriet Bosse, with whom Strindberg falls in love and marries; Strindberg himself is played by Bengt Anders, an earnest, ardent young actor who is also in love with Harriet. This impressive drama about a sensitive, driven, turbulent and mystical playwright uses a fictional play-within-a-play device to brilliantly approximate the environment in which Strindberg lived and worked.
ISBN 0 573 01867 7

Plaza Suite

Comedy. Neil Simon
M3/2/2 F1/2 An hotel suite.

The comedy consists of three separate plays all occurring in the same hotel suite, and all parts can be played by separate artists. In the first play, Visitor from Mamaroneck, a middle-aged couple revisit the hotel room of their honeymoon - but the arrangement does not end as romantically as might have been expected. Visitor from Hollywood recounts the meeting of two old flames and what can happen under the influence of repeating magic Hollywood names. The last play, Visitor from Forest Hills, tells of a mother and father and their daughter who has locked herself in the bathroom and refuses to come out for her wedding.
ISBN 0 573 61407 5

Please Communicate

Melodrama. Mary Oldfield 4 men, 3 women. Interior.

Set in England, Robert and Eleanor Clyde, a happily married couple, have one child, a son, Robin, whom they both adore. Eleanor is away on a visit and Robert is taking his secretary, Jane, home one night when he runs over a man on a bicycle. Jane is afraid her fiancé will put the wrong construction on it if he knows she has had dinner with her employer, even though the evening was entirely proper. At her insistence, Robert drives on, leaving the man he has hit lying on the road. When he arrives at his home, Robert learns that the man he hit was his own son - and that the boy is dead. Jane is the only person who knows that it was Robert who killed his son, and they agree to keep it a secret from Eleanor, who arrives immediately afterwards. Eleanor's grief changes her from a charming, gracious woman to someone whose only thought is of revenge - her life becomes dedicated to one purpose, to find and punish the person who killed her son. She offers a large reward to anyone who, can furnish information that may lead to discovery of the driver. Eventually, between a clue that is furnished by the owner of the garage where Robert keeps his car, and Robert's own slips as the result of his unhappy conscience, Eleanor learns that it is her husband who killed her son and the remainder of the play is filled with suspense until we finally learn what course of action Eleanor will take.
ISBN: 0-8222-0900-4

The Pleasure Of His Company

Comedy. Samuel Taylor (with Cornelia Otis Skinner).
5 men, 2 women. Interior.

A somewhat tarnished international playboy returns to the San Francisco home of his former wife to give away their daughter in marriage. He hasn't laid eyes on the girl since she was a baby and now discovering her a resplendent young woman, he turns on the charm that has won his reputation in all the playgrounds of the world. The daughter is utterly transported, the mother and the fiancé are helpless against this sophisticated tidal wave. But the impasse is rationally resolved when the girl wins her plea to be allowed a small sabbatical abroad [with her father] before settling down to the marriage she still cherishes.
ISBN: 0-8222-0901-2

The Plough and the Stars

Tragedy. Sean O' Casey
M9 (25, 40, middle-age) F6 (15, 20, 23, 40). Three interiors. One exterior.

To the Irish Citizen Army 'The Plough and the Stars' symbolises their futile patriotism. To all the slum dwellers the Easter rebellion brings the realisation that there is no help against the strength of the English forces. This tragic satire ends amid a scene of final desolation where two Irishmen sit playing cards until they are rounded up by the King's soldiers. Period 1915-16
ISBN 0 573 01344 4


Comedy/Drama: Christopher Kyle.
3 men, 2 women. Unit Set.

Clare, Marty and Val were the best of friends in college. Now approaching 30, they find themselves struggling with careers and relationships-unhappy, yet fearful of change. The three gather, along with Val's husband Harris, at a country house in Connecticut for a weekend of escape and reminiscence. But this awkward reunion is interrupted by the bmtruck Jim, an office temp with whom Clare had a brief affair. Heedless of the circumstances, Jim proves to be the catalyst that pulls apart these delicately maintained relationships. As the friends' betrayals are revealed and the misbegotten weekend hurtles toward its tragi-comic conclusion, a candid snapshot of a generation comes into focus. Sharp and witty in its observations, Plunge dives through its comic surface to find the melancholy beneath.
ISBN: 0-8222-1670-1