Author H.H. Munro, also known as Saki, wrote about upperclass English society before the first World War and satirized its foibles with dark humor and acid wit. Playwright Burton Bumgarner has updated and Americanized three of Saki's stories, dramatizing their impish ironies, exquisite mischief, and O'Henry-like twist endings. All three stories, which are played before one basic living room set, may be presented for a full evening's entertainment, or each can be presented separately. (See individual listings in the One-Act Section.)
4 m, 3 w
Charles Augustus Milverton is a blackmailer who preys on women who have at times slipped into indiscretions. Thus Lady Eva Blackwell wrote several imprudent letters to a young squire, which Milverton now possesses, and threatens to release them to her future husband if she does not give him 7,000 pounds. Sherlock Holmes, who agrees to represent her, refuses payment. Instead he and Watson resort to obtaining the letters by burglarizing Milverton's home. While doing so, they surreptitiously witness his meeting with a veiled woman whose letters had been sent by ...
5 m, 3 w, extras
Marcus lives in an exciting time for theatre: the very beginning in Ancient Greece. He wants to become a great actor and impress everyone at the Festival of Dionysus, especially the lovely maiden Chara. Unfortunately, he can't act, but the gods Dionysus and Apollo see this and decide to help him out. With his new, god-given talent of acting, Marcus is able to win the tragedy competition and the heart of Chara, but not without upsetting two goddesses on Mt. Olympus. Hera and Aphrodite are outraged and have plans to stir up the situation even more. This magical...
5 m, 5 w, 1 B, 2 G + chorus (can be doubled to 3 m, 3 w, and 3 chorus)
Joanna Spyri's classic story of the orphan who spreads sunshine everywhere she goes is well represented in this fast-paced adaptation. Heidi conquers her grandfather, Peter, Klara, Herr Sesemann and all those with whom she comes in contact.
3 m, 6 w, some doubling possible
Adapted by Philip Lerman From the classic by Euripides. Troy lies in ruins after its defeat by the Grecian army. All the men have been killed, and the women wait to be transported to Greece, as slaves or concubines. Hecuba, Troy’s former queen, learns the disposition of her surviving family from the Grecian soldier Talthybius. In parting scenes with her daughter and with her son's widow, Hecuba’s spirits are lifted by the courage of these young women. After a blunt exchange with Helen, whose illicit romance with Hecuba’s other son Paris led to Troy’s destruct...
14 m, 4 w, extras
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford are up to paying back the mischievous Falstaff for his duplicity. The Merry Wives of Windsor, one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, features the huge and conceited Sir John Falstaff at his funniest. Because the play is filled with a large variety of character types including two with outrageous accents, students will find this condensed version (which uses the Bard's own words), manageable, enjoyable and rewarding. About 90 minutes.
1 w, 6 flexible
The Empress of China learns about a wonderful bird in her garden and demands the bird perform that evening in court. When Miss Nightingale appears, everyone is disappointed by her drab, gray appearance. However, she makes up for it with her beautiful birdsong which even moves the Empress to tears. She decides to have a silver cage built, to keep the bird forever. Just then a gift is received from Japan -- a marvelous, jewel-studded mechanical bird which sings its own mechanical tune. With the attention on the new gift, Miss Nightingale steals away, back to th...
Jabez Wilson is a pawnbroker whose store is located on Coburg Square next to a bank. He consults Sherlock Holmes about the "League of Red-Headed Men." He had been told by his employee, Vincent Spaulding, that it is a group established by a red-headed American millionaire, now dead, who had left a large amount of money for men with such hair color. Spaulding introduced Wilson to Duncan Ross who is also red-headed and the manager of the operation. All Wilson needed to do to earn the money was to spend four hours a day at an office, copying out the Encyclopedia ...
5 m, 1 w
To save his crown, a distraught King of Bohemia comes incognito to 221B Baker Street to seek the help of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes quickly sees through the man's disguise. The throne is threatened by a photograph of the King and Irene Adler taken five years previously. She is threatening to reveal it, now that the King is planning to marry someone else the second daughter of the King of Scandinavia. Holmes makes valiant efforts to retrieve the document, but Irene Adler outwits his every move. On her marriage to Godfrey Norton, a lawyer, she indicates that she w...
2 m, 2 w, 3 flexible
Adapted from the story "Peter Rugg, the Missing Man" by William Austin. This play tells the story of the phantom coachman Peter Rugg, a man doomed forever to race along the roads to Boston but never to arrive there. Overtaken by a fit of rage while traveling during a stormy night, Bostonite Peter Rugg made a dangerous promise: "Let the storm increase! I will see home tonight in spite of the tempest, or may I never see home again!" He never arrived in Boston. Now his ghost rides the roads leading to and from that city, and he always brings behind him the feroc...
7 m, 7 w
Based on the novel by Steve Allen. The rock star was dead, murdered on national TV, right in front of millions of his devoted fans. Little does anyone know, this is merely the beginning of a series of bizarre murders on the talk show circuit that sends shock waves through Hollywood. Who is crazy enough to kill people in full view of millions of loyal watchers? From celebrities down to regulars in the TV audiences, what do these victims have in common? Enter Roger Dale, an extraordinary detective a little bit down on his luck. With the help of his assistant, J...
4 m, 6 w, 1 flexible
Adapted from the short story by H.H. Munro (Saki). When an old friend invites Jake, a science writer for a newspaper, to spend a weekend at a gathering of prize-winning scientists, he sees a way to write an impressive article and move on to being a sports writer, his real goal. At the gathering we meet a botanist, who has invented a rapidly growing vine that the Defense Department can use as a weapon of mass destruction; a systems engineer, who has invented a new software language only engineers can learn; a physicist, who has written a textbook that is a com...
7 m, 11 w. Much doubling possible.
The terrible waste of war never seemed more contemporary than in these quintessential tragedies by Euripides set before and after the siege of Troy. Far from being “historical dramas,” they speak to any generation embroiled in conflict. We see up close and firsthand that war is the most pitiful—and most poetic—of human activities. In the first play, "Iphigenia at Aulis," the Grecian army waits to embark on the conquest of Troy. The army’s commander, Agamemnon, has been forced to offer his young daughter, Iphigenia, as a martyr to ensure victory. Valiant effor...
7 m, 9 w, doubling possible
Based on the stories by Mark Twain. This collection provides an evening's entertainment, but individual selections can easily be performed independently. "The 1,000,000 Bank Note" (two acts for 5m/5w, 60 minutes) features two wealthy British siblings who bet whether a destitute man can survive a month in London if they give him a £1,000,000 bank note, which he can neither account for being in his possession, nor turn into cash. Two one-act plays, "The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" (1m/2w, 20 minutes) and "An Encounter With an I...
7 m, 4 w, 4 flex; doubling possible
In this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's work, John Unger, a studious and innocent young man, has been invited by his fellow prep school student Percy Washington to summer at his family’s opulent estate hidden in the Montana mountains. John readily accepts. There he meets Percy’s parents, sister Jasmine, and sister Kismine – with whom he quickly falls in love. But as he and Kismine begin to make plans for the future, John discovers the source of the family’s wealth is a secret many have died for. Will he survive the summer? Full evening.