- by Stephen Peithman
New plays, scenes and monologues
The opportunity to license and produce the full-length Les Misérables has not previously been available generally to professional and amateur groups, but Music Theatre International is now accepting applications for productions of the hit musical, beginning June 2013. Certain geographic restrictions apply. Full information at www.mtishows.com.
August Strindberg, Selected Plays, (two volumes). Swedish playwright Strindberg, who died in 1912) explored a wide range of dramatic styles, from naturalistic tragedy and history plays to works that look ahead to expressionist and surrealist theater. University of Minnesota Press has released two volumes of his work, translated by Evert Sprinchorn. Vol. I contains his best-known play, Miss Julie, along with Master Olof, The Father, Creditors, The Stronger and Playing with Fire. Vol. II offers To Damascus, Crimes and Crimes, The Dance of Death, The Ghost Sonata, The Pelican and his most influential and critically acclaimed work, A Dream Play. A helpful introduction puts the plays in context of the period and the development of drama in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. [$25 each, University of Minnesota Press]
Playwrights Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Maxim Gorky and John Osborne all cited Strindberg as an influence. So has Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, whose screenplay for Through a Glass Darkly has (with his permission) been adapted for the stage by Jenny Worton. The story revolves around a young woman who has recently returned to the family island after spending some time in a mental hospital. Slowly, her grip on reality slips away and the bonds between the various family members change in the process. Three men, one woman. [Dramatists Play Service]
Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles is a dramatic comedy that looks at how two outsiders find their way in today’s world. After suffering a major loss while on a cross-country bike trip, 21 year-old Leo seeks solace from his feisty 91-year-old grandmother Vera in her West Village apartment. Over the course of a single month, the unlikely roommates infuriate, bewilder and ultimately understand each other. One male, one female. [Samuel French]
Also new from French is Tom Stoppard’s new version of The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekov, in which an impoverished landowning family is unable to face the fact that their estate is about to be auctioned off. Produced by London’s Old Vic and later, New York’s BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Stoppard’s version is true to the original, while pushing things into Alice in Wonderland absurdity. Nine males, five females. [Samuel French]
Best-known for his comic acting chops in the TV series Scrubs, Zach Braff is also a playwright whose All New People is a morbidly funny play with an edgy take on territory once claimed by Neil Simon. Charlie’s proposed suicide on his 35th birthday is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of each of the other character—sitcom stuff perhaps, but smartly done. Two men, two women. [Dramatists Play Service]
From Robert Brustein’s satire Sarah in Blunderland (or The Mad Hater’s Tea Party) to Israel Horovitz’s emotional 10 Years After Paradise, to Gary Garrison’s blind-date-in-crisis in Game On, the 50 ten-minute plays in Boston Theater Marathon XIII: 2011 Anthology manage to ask important questions and entertain at the same time. [$24.95, Smith and Kraus]
Those looking for short-form material for young people will have a field day with five new titles from Meriwether Publishing, beginning with 62 Comedy Duet Scenes for Teens, by Laurie Allen, which offers scenes for two women, two men, and one man and one woman, dealing with topics such as dating, best friends, fashion, phobias, and fads. Scenes may be used for classroom practice or in groups for an evening of entertainment. [$17.95]
Taking a slightly different approach, each of the one-minute pieces in 100 Duet Scenes for Teens, by Michael Moore, explores a particular personality trait, emotion, or situation. The book is divided into four sections: Gender Neutral, Male and Female Duets, Male-Only Duets, and Female-Only Duets, with performing notes provided for each scene. Subject matter includes dating, babysitting, Boy Scouts, cell phones, crushes, driver training, kissing, sports, abuse and disability. [$17.95]
More Short & Sweet: Skits for Student Actors, by Maggie Scriven, contains 50 short skits, with casts of two to ten players, covering a wide variety of topics and dramatic styles, suitable for use in competitions or comedy revue shows. [$17.95]
Finally, 102 Monologues for Middle School Actors, by Rebecca Young [$17.95], and 50/50 II: 100 More Monologues for Guys and Girls, by Mary Depner [$16.95] provide material for both classroom use and auditions.