2 W 3 M
Alcestis is going to die unless someone can be found to take her place. Her husband, not surprisingly,
declines. During the mourning period Hercules arrives for a visit. As a guest, he mustn’t be told about the tragedy, but he
finds out anyway, and goes to Hades to battle with death and bring Alcestis back.
COMMENTS: Known as the “tragedy with
a happy ending”, and it is, although we are left with some powerful afterthoughts. One of the most accessible of Greek tragedies,
with a rare comic slant on its two leading male characters. No problems with a chorus here – it’s one person, a servant. An
excellent introduction to Greek tragedy.
AS YOU LIKE IT (Shakespeare)
2 W, 5 M
This version was first staged in a forest – an approach we highly recommend, if you ever have the opportunity. The dialogue
is all Shakespeare’s, so there is no royalty on this play, but please give us credit for the acting version in the program.
Tunes and chords for the songs are available.
HAMLET ACT VI
1 W, 6 M, extras
Hamlet and Laertes do not exchange rapiers, Hamlet does not die, so he’s quite surprised when Fortinbras arrives to claim
the throne that Hamlet assumes is his. Both try to line up supporters, play dirty tricks on each other, and finally engage
in combat urged on by the ghosts of their fathers – all in blank verse.
COMMENTS: These are but wild and whirling words,
my lord! For the theater group ready to smile for a moment at the classics.
THE KNIGHTS (Aristophanes)
5 W or
One act, fifty minutes
The Playwright and four friends are in a bind: no one will make a mask representing
the dictator Creon, who is to be satirized in the playwright’s new play. To decide how serious the situation is, the five
read the play aloud. In it a pair of opportunists convince a hot dog seller to take on the dictator for the affections of
the wealthy, complacent Populace. The competition involves prophecies, invective, and dirty tricks, but our hero is good at
all of them, and routs the dictator. The Playwright ultimately decides to play the role, and the show will go on.
The frame story is based on an allegedly true incident in Aristophanes’ career, and the play-within-the-play is a close paraphrase
of his wild original, with only an occasional edit. Aristophanes distrusted anyone who has power and anyone who might ever
get it, and his attitude shines through. This version is extremely easy to stage, since most of it is a reading. For a group
that would enjoy starting a good political discussion! See sample dialogue.
LYSISTRATA (Lizzie’s Sisters/The Women
Say No) (Aristophanes)
4 W, 3 M
Flexible, nonrepresentational setting
War is raging, and Lizzie has
a plan to end it: withhold sex until there’s peace. At first the men don’t believe the women are capable of any such thing;
then they become belligerent, then desperate. The women fight with both words and actions, and ultimately triumph for the
good of all.
COMMENTS: This adaptation solves the notorious problems of the famous original: crude language, choral
staging, and a plot that runs out about halfway through the play. Here the action flows smoothly, the play is clean enough
to be presented for almost any audience, and it still retains the tone – and the point – of the original. Particularly recommended
for groups that have wanted to do the play but have shied away from blatantly sexual language.
A MODERN EVENING
OF CLASSIC DRAMA
Nathan the Wise
The Imaginary Betrayal
2 W, 3 M or more (total roles 6 W, 9 M)
COMMENTS: See the individual plays for descriptions. Want to start your own repertory company? Stage
all three of these significant and varied classic plays. A treat for actors and audiences and for any company looking for
an accessible program of the classics.
NATHAN THE WISE (Lessing)
2 W, 3 M
triangle both religious and emotional, set in Jerusalem in the days of the Crusades, finds the daughter of a wise Jew, Nathan,
being sought after by a young Crusader, while Nathan is called before the Muslim ruler Saladin. Nathan has lessons to teach
everyone, including us.
COMMENTS: An adaptation of a play that was for many generations the most produced in Europe.
This classic tale of tolerance is particularly famous for the unforgettable Parable of the Rings, told by Nathan to Saladin…
which alone would be worth the price of admission.
THE IMAGINARY BETRAYAL (Moliere)
2 W, 3 M
A father insists that his daughter marry someone she doesn’t love… and she is equally determined to marry another.
A picture in a locket, accidentally dropped, leads to confusion and suspicion on everyone’s part. Love triumphs, eventually
COLMMENTS: Classic farce! A straightforward version of Moliere’s The Imaginary Cuckold, easy to play.
REHEARSAL (George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham and others)
4 W or M and a flexible acting company
A theater company, down on its luck, comes up with a scheme to raise money: it will allow wealthy
patrons to design their own plays, and they’ll be so grateful that they’ll dig deep. The scenes that result, needless to say,
are quite off the wall… but enthusiastically presented…
COMMENTS: This Restoration play was the Forbidden Broadway
of its time, and a huge success for generations. The fun for a director lies in matching the period scenes to modern styles
of theater production. This adaptation includes a new prologue, opening and closing, and basic situation, and the text is
thoroughly edited. An excellent opportunity for a company looking for an unfamiliar classic comedy with popular appeal. See
SHAKESPEARE’S ONE-ACT PLAYS
Six or more W or M
last, something new from Shakespeare! A director’s feast: an assemblage of pieces from The Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labours
Lost, Hamlet, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
COMMENTS: The dialogue is all Shakespeare’s, so there is
no royalty on this play, but please give us credit for the acting version in the program.
TWELFTH NIGHT (Shakespeare)
details under "Young Audiences"